Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel condemns attacks, calls for prayer and action

A statement has been released by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission — called the Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel — condemning the attacks on Israel, calling on Christians to pray for Israelis and Palestinians, and urging policymakers to use their power to protect innocent life in the Middle East. The statement bears the signatures of dozens of pastors, SBC entity and state convention leaders, and leaders of various Christian organizations.

“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,” said Brent Leatherwood, ERLC president, in a press release.

Leatherwood said the statement is meant to present a unified front against the attacks waged by Hamas on Israel beginning on Oct. 7.

“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,” Leatherwood said.

More than 1,200 Israelis have been killed since Saturday, according to the Associated Press, and more than 1,050 Palestinians have died. Thousands have been injured by the gunfighting, rocket attacks and ongoing battles. More than 100 were kidnapped by Hamas militants over the weekend.

The statement urges policy leaders 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.”

Leatherwood calls this desire a biblical approach to such 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,” he said.

People are invited to sign on to the statement at the ERLC website.

“We must pray without ceasing for the families who … continue to suffer from this attack,” Leatherwood said.

“We pray that no additional innocent life be taken as Israel rightfully defends itself from this horror.”

The full Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel is posted below:

In the wake of the evil and indefensible atrocities now committed against the people of Israel by Hamas, we, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the violence against the vulnerable, fully support Israel’s right and duty to defend itself against further attack, and urgently call all Christians to pray for the salvation and peace of the people of Israel and Palestine.

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).

Since the inception of the modern state of Israel in 1948, Israel has faced numerous attacks, incursions, and violations of its national sovereignty. The Jewish people have long endured genocidal attempts to eradicate them and to destroy the Jewish state. These anti-Semitic, deadly ideologies and terrorist actions must be opposed.

Israel stands as a rare example of democracy in a region dominated by authoritarian regimes. 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.

In keeping with Christian Just War tradition, we also affirm the legitimacy of Israel’s right to respond against those who have initiated these attacks as Romans 13 grants governments the power to bear the sword against those who commit such evil acts against innocent life.

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.

We also recognize the difficult ministry of Jewish and Palestinian believers who labor for the gospel. We pray for their protection and for God’s blessing on their gospel ministry.

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.

May God bring peace to the Middle East.

— Brandon Porter serves as associate vice president for convention news at the SBC Executive Committee.