World News

Israeli leader suspends bill against Christian proselytism

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he would block the passage of a proposal by a powerful ally in his ruling coalition to punish Christian proselytizing with a prison term.

The proposal had raised an outcry from evangelical Christians – one of Israel’s strongest and most influential supporters in the United States.

The bill was introduced in January by two ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmakers, including Moshe Gafni, who heads the parliament’s finance committee. He says soliciting someone to convert their faith should be punishable by one year in prison and soliciting to convert a minor would be punishable by two years.

“Recently, attempts by missionary groups, mainly Christians, to solicit religious conversion have increased,” he said.

The bill was never advanced, but it gained widespread attention in the American evangelical world this week after All Israel News, an evangelical news site, reported on it.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced on Twitter: “We will not advance any law against the Christian community.”

Gafni said he presented the bill as a procedural matter, as he has done in the past, and there were no plans to move it forward.

Evangelical Christians, especially in the United States, are among Israel’s staunchest supporters, viewing it as the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, with some seeing it as the harbinger of a second coming of Jesus Christ and of the end of days.

Israel has long welcomed political and financial support from evangelicals, and it has largely ignored concerns about any hidden religious agenda. But most Jews view any effort to convert them to Christianity as deeply offensive, a legacy of centuries of persecution and forced conversion at the hands of Christian rulers. Partly because of these sensitivities, evangelical Christians rarely target Jews.

Joel Rosenberg, editor of All Israel News, welcomed Netanyahu’s announcement, which comes at a time of internal turmoil in Israel over his plans to overhaul the country’s legal system and growing tensions with the Biden administration. about settlement activities in the West Bank.

“Netanyahu is a long-time and tried friend of the global Christian community and his action today — amid all the other issues on his plate — is further proof of that,” Rosenberg said.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button