In US evangelical capital, a new progressiveness and differing views on Israel

THE GUARDIAN:

This week, the Trump administration completed its move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At the opening ceremony, two of the American speakers were evangelical superstars: Pastor Robert Jeffress, the author of several doomsday books about Israel, and John Hagee, who interpreted recent lunar eclipses as evidence that the end times were nigh. The Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro, meanwhile, declared that Trump had “fulfilled biblical prophecy”.

The ceremony coincided with massive protests, in which 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.

Thousands of miles away, in her home outside Colorado Springs, Kimberly Troup sat in a cluttered basement office. She is an evangelical Christian who takes to heart the Bible verse in which God speaks of the Jewish nation: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”

Accordingly, she has devoted 22 years to Israel. She is now the US director of Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, an advocacy group with a Zionist ideology. Two other CFIC employees work with her. This week, they have been very busy.

Ever since she was a child, in Kentucky, Troup has been immersed in Israel. Her father saw the creation of the state in 1948 and the six-day war of 1967 as evidence of biblical prophecy surrounding the end of the world. Troup believes in such prophecies, though she does not pretend to know when they will occur. She sees it as her Christian duty to care for Israel, to defend it against “Arabs” who are “not interested in peace”.

As she described her position an associate, previously silent, spoke up, quoting the book of Isaiah: “You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”

Christians around the world have always had an intense interest in the Holy Land. It has often been believed that the restoration of the Jews in Palestine will bring about a holy war between good and evil (as prophesied in the Book of Revelation), after which God will set up a holy kingdom on Earth.

In the 1970s, Troup’s father was one of millions who purchased a book called The Late Great Planet Earth, which interpreted events in Israel as evidence that the great war of Armageddon would happen by the late 1980s. The non-fiction bestseller of the decade, it was followed by the wildly popular end times conspiracy tome The New World Order, by the televangelist Pat Robertson, and then the Left Behind novels and films, which concerned violent clashes in Israel that would bring about biblical prophecy.

To outsiders, these pieces of doomsday pop culture seem like far-fetched lunacy. For millions of Christians, they are a roadmap to the end of the world.

Read more at The Guardian

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