Many Christians here and elsewhere express enthusiastic support for the state of Israel, so they welcomed President Trump's incendiary declaration that henceforth, Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel.
In a way, it's a no-brainer: Of course, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. But it is also an international city, the central hub of three of the world's great religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And in the minds of Palestinians, it is also the capital - albeit a shared one - of their future state. But Trump, who favors bravado - some would say bullying - over diplomacy, doesn't seem to understand the nuanced approach the rest of the world has used with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Even if he does, he has cast those considerations aside to do what he wants - or, depending on perspective, what his base wants.
Despite all the brouhaha in the wake of his declaration, it's highly unlikely the U.S. embassy or others will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem anytime soon, because other world leaders worry about the escalation of violence. Nevertheless, everyone should understand the rationale of some fundamentalist Christians in supporting the Israeli state, at all costs.
Some Christians eagerly await the Rapture, when they and other true believers will be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ, right before the tribulation occurs. After that, unspeakable horrors will be visited upon the planet before it ends in a conflagration. Anyone who comes to believe during the ensuing nightmare will be taken to heaven (or a "new earth"). As for unbelievers, or those who follow the antichrist - everyone knows where those folks will be headed. But before these prophecies can be fulfilled, the Jews must first build a new temple on the site of the one the Romans destroyed nearly two millennia ago. Most Christians understand only that the temple will be rebuilt, summarily defiled, and then the Rapture will occur. That means one or both of the mosques on the Temple Mount will have to be destroyed, and a global war would ensue; even those who doubt the veracity of the Rapture can't deny that fact.
Many American Christians are ignorant about the beliefs of Orthodox Jews and other sects. They don't realize the temple can't be erected until its builders are ritually pure, and since every living Jew is presumably "unclean" according to temple law, they would first need the ashes from a pure red heifer. But those are complicated issues that do not concern some Christians. For other Christians, the issue is simpler: Because of historical perspectives about terrorism, they favor the Jews over the Muslims, and therefore want Israel to triumph. What they fail to grasp is that in pushing this policy, they are crushing some of the oldest sects of Christianity in the world.
Those who believe in the New Testament narrative know some of the first "Christians" were in Jerusalem and nearby cities and regions, where Christ spread his teachings. The descendants of these Christians are still in that area, and people like former Tahlequah resident Kristen Brown have regular contact with them. Brown, an ordained elder, is a liaison in Jerusalem with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She now lives near Bethlehem, and as she explained to the Press last week in a piece by Sean Rowley, she and most others who live near that "Ground Zero" oppose what Trump is doing. Though violence in that region had been ebbing, 12 Palestinians have died since Trump's move.
Brown and others understand how even a few thoughtless words can wreak havoc. Most of the few remaining Palestinian Christians are destitute and desperate, and they don't understand why American Christians don't seem to care about them. These people are peaceful, Brown says, and in fact, so are most Muslim Palestinians. They simply don't like how the Israeli government is treating them.
American Christians who make quick judgments and automatically disdain all Palestinians, while upholding all Israelis, should be ashamed. Not only are they throwing their Christian brothers and sisters in that troubled land under a bus of mammoth proportions, they are advancing policies that will ultimately be bad for all the people who live there.
Support for Israel is one thing, but bulldozing forward with reckless policies that will result in the deaths of Jews, Christians and Muslims alike is not just morally wrong; it's scripturally abhorrent. Americans should educate themselves on the complicated issues in that region of the world before they back moves that will dissolve decades of delicate diplomacy.