Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2023 —The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has joined with SBC and other Christian leaders in developing an “Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel,” in response to the horrific atrocities committed against the people of Israel by Hamas.
The statement has garnered more than 60 signatories from SBC leaders and a broad group of evangelicals to support Israel and advocate for the vulnerable involved with this ongoing conflict.
ERLC President Brent Leatherwood commented on the statement.
“These repugnant atrocities by Hamas should shake us to our core. Hundreds of innocent Israeli lives have been struck down by a rampaging enemy. There should be no question that the Israeli government has the right to defend its citizens and sovereignty that have been so grossly violated. Our statement today, from leaders across denominational lines in evangelicalism and from various sectors of ministry, represents a significant show of solidarity with Israel as it responds to this evil.
“In the face of such wickedness, this is not the time for false equivalency or excuses by national leaders and policymakers, but clear-eyed moral leadership. Extremists and authoritarians are threatening lives across the globe, rendering countless individuals vulnerable. As we read in the 13th chapter of the Book of Romans, governments have a responsibility to thwart such evil—and that responsibility should translate to action.
“At the same time, we must pray without ceasing for the families who have and continue to suffer from this attack. We pray that no additional innocent life be taken as Israel rightfully defends itself from this horror.”
The evangelical statement also calls on Christians across the globe to pray for the salvation and peace of the people in Israel and Palestine.
Excerpts from the statement are below:
“While our theological perspectives on Israel and the Church may vary, we are unified in calling attacks against Jewish people especially troubling as they have been often targeted by their neighbors since God called them as His people in the days of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). . . .
“The tragic events of October 7th further underscore the importance of democracy in our world and stand as a sober reminder that supporting Israel’s right to exist is both urgent and needed. . . .
“Furthermore, we recognize the dignity and personhood of all persons living in the Middle East and affirm God’s love for them as well as His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ to all people. . . .
“Finally, we call on American policymakers to use their power to take all forms of terrorism seriously and call governments and civil authorities to confront evil work to prevent future attacks so that the innocent and vulnerable will be protected.”
Daniel Darling, director of The Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as a key drafter for the evangelical statement and commented on the crisis in Israel.
“These despicable acts represent a second Holocaust against the Jewish people. As in every generation, Israel needs defenders. There can be no equivocation. This is the time for the church to speak clearly and with one voice that we not only condemn these barbarous acts of terrorism but that we support Israel’s right to defend itself. I’m grateful for the moral clarity of those who added their name to this document and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Southern Baptists passed a resolution at the 2016 annual meeting titled, “On Prayer and Support For Israel” supporting the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state.
The full statement can be found here.
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 13.6 million members and a network of over 47,000 cooperating churches and congregations. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.