For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel Is ‘God’s Foreign Policy’





Many conservative Christians say they believe that the president’s support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East....

Now, in tandem with the Israeli government, many evangelical Christians have focused on a new villain, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Evangelical broadcasters and commentators have seized on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments questioning the Holocaust and calling for the abolition of the Israeli state. And many evangelicals now talk of the Iranian leader as a “mortal threat” to Israel.

Some evangelical leaders say they are wary of reports that a panel including former Secretary of State James A. Baker III might recommend negotiating with Iran about the future of Iraq. “It certainly bothers me,” said Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential conservative Christians. “That has the same kind of feel to it as the British negotiating with Germany, Italy and Japan in the run up to World War II.”

At rallies this fall for Christian conservative voters, Dr. Dobson sometimes singled out Mr. Ahmadinejad as a reason to go to the polls, arguing that Democrats could not be trusted to face down such dangers. “Hitler told everybody what he was going to do, and Ahmadinejad is saying exactly what he is going to do,” Dr. Dobson explained. “He is talking genocide.”

The same name, with many pronunciations, comes up repeatedly on Christian talk radio shows, said Gary Bauer, a Christian conservative political organizer. “I am not sure there is a foreign leader who has made a bigger splash in American culture since Khrushchev, certainly among committed Christians,” he said.

Mr. Hagee [the Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio], for his part, said Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel and the Holocaust were part of what motivated him to found Christians United For Israel late last year. Since the fight with Hezbollah, Mr. Hagee said, he is doing all he can to keep the pressure on United States officials to take a hard line with Iran.



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