Israeli ministries spar over support of Evangelical Christians
Foreign Ministry wants to upgrade status of Evangelicals in Israel; Interior Ministry opposes, may be influenced by anti-missionary groups.
Israel's Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry are engaged in a heated debate over whether or not to recognize Evangelical Christians as a sovereign, independent church and offer them the benefits that go along with that status, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.
The Foreign Ministry wants to upgrade the status of Evangelical Christians in Israel, encouraging even more interaction with the Christian group that has most supported and aided the Jewish state since its rebirth.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon noted that Evangelical Christians donate untold sums of money to Israel and, especially in the US and Europe, initiative formidable public relations campaigns in support of the Jewish state. Ayalon suggested that the least Israel could do in return is grant Evangelicals the same status as Catholics, Greeks, Armenians and other orthodox churches.
An Interior Ministry representative quoted by Army Radio rejected the idea, arguing that if Evangelicals were granted such status in Israel, it would open the flood gates and similar requests from other religious groups would come pouring in.
Our readers are aware of the trouble Evangelical Christians living in Israel have had with the Interior Ministry in recent years, and revelations that those troubles stem directly from the ministry's relationship with Yad L'Achim.
Yad L'Achim and other anti-missionary groups view Evangelical Christians as a threat and want them out of Israel, and that likely has far more to do with the Interior Ministry's opposition to upgrading the status of Evangelicals than a fear of additional requests from other religious groups.
Both ministries agreed to form a joint committee to find a solution to the impasse.