Evangelicals and U.S. Foreign Policy Symposium: Evangelicals and the Middle East - Session III

Presider:
Rachel Bronson Vice President, Programs and Studies, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Speakers:
Eliza Griswold Fellow, New America Foundation
Timothy P. Weber Senior Consultant, Former President, Higher Education Practice, EFL Associates; Memphis Theological Seminary
Description

12:45 to 2:00 p.m. Meeting

Audio
Transcript

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

 

RACHEL BRONSON:  Good afternoon.  I'm Rachel Bronson.  I'm the vice president for Programs and Studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  And to allay any confusion, I had been at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York for a number of years, and so it's really terrific to be home again.  And I thank Harry and Tim and Walter for making that possible.

I'm just delighted to be moderating the session that we have this afternoon, which, after two what I thought were powerful and interesting conversations, we have a lot to live up to.  But I think any conversation on the Middle East, particularly American foreign policy in the Middle East, and especially the role of evangelicalism in American foreign policy and the Middle East, can be nothing but interesting.

And so we have a big task in front of us, but hopefully made a little bit easier by how challenging and interesting the subject itself is.

On the panel today are three fantastic people to speak with us about it.  And I hope that, in my role, I'm able to draw them out so that they can really showcase how interesting and important the subject is.

Tim Weber, to my left, is a senior consultant at EFL Associates.  In his role in higher education in Denver, he's been president of four institutions -- four institutions of graduate theological issues.  To his left, Eliza Griswold is a fellow at the National America Foundation.  And to her left is Paul Marshall, who is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Just to give a little background also before we get into the conversation, Tim's done some very important and path-breaking work on the role of evangelicalism and Israel.  Eliza is finishing a book on the 10/40 parallel that we've been hearing so much about and will allow us also to get into a little bit of conversation on missionaries today.  And then Paul, of course, has been working on issues of religious freedom.  That's been actually referred to in the conversation.  So here we have three experts on very important topics and issues when it comes to the Middle East.

So what we've agreed to kind of as a panel is just to take some very basic questions and have each of the panelists take it on and give their take of the questions.

So let me just start with Paul, and maybe just start very broadly, Paul, on how do evangelicals view the Muslim world and the Middle East?  I mean, as we think about this very big topic, can you kind of give us a sense of what that landscape looks like?

PAUL MARSHALL:  Okay.  As we heard this morning, any statement which begins "Evangelicals think" is -- I'd better rephrase that.  Is there an evangelical view of something?  No.

With Israel, as I think Tim will point out in much more detail and nuance, I think most evangelical opinion is supportive of Israel.  Of that, about one-third is probably for prophetic reasons, premillennial dispensationalists; I would say another third for biblical reasons -- (inaudible) -- view of the Jews.  So there's a biblical tie-in there, but it's not dispensational or prophetic.  And the third would see Israel as a democratic country which has our values and we should support them.  So there is generally a pro-Israel tilt.

That's also supplemented by the fact of a more negative or critical view of Middle Eastern countries generally, and a lot of that is tied to the treatment of the Christian minorities, which the evangelical world has become more aware of.  You know, most notably would, of course, be Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also with Egypt, with Turkey, with Syria, people becoming aware of what's happening in there.

So in short form, a pro-Israel tilt, for a variety of reasons, but also concern about a lot of the Middle East.  If we include Sudan in the Middle East -- it depends where we want to draw that boundary -- then particularly the north-south conflict in Sudan, that peace agreement is fraying, but still holding.

I would say, in terms of focus on any country, the focus on Sudan has been the largest amongst the evangelical community in the last 10 years, and a lot of that has carried over into Darfur.  So that's also a large issue for evangelicals.

BRONSON:  Tim, why don't you pick up on that about -- I mean, I think the point has been made repeatedly that evangelicals don't think something.  But yet Paul has kind of laid out some area where there is some commonality in general, a pro-Israel stance in general, concern with human rights; not that out of touch with the American public, actually, in many ways, which I think is interesting.

So how should -- when you look over the landscape of evangelicalism in foreign policy and thinking about the Middle East -- and we'll get specifically to Israel, but even your work, obviously, will inform that -- what is the role for evangelicals in thinking about American Middle East policy?  Who are they and where are they?

TIMOTHY P. WEBER:  Well, as Paul has pointed out, most evangelicals are very pro-Israel.  All the polls say so.  But not all evangelicals are pro-Israel for the same reason.  A quarter, a third at the most, probably, are very concerned about Israel and the Middle East for prophetic reasons.  They follow a particular view of Bible prophecy which originated in the 1830s in Britain called dispensationalism, came to this country in the 1870s after our Civil War, and, by World War I, was firmly established among people who were beginning to call themselves fundamentalists.

It is a view of the future which is extremely detailed.  The conviction is that the Bible contains a scenario of great import and great detail that spells out what's going to happen in what order, when and where.

Bottom line for dispensationalism is that there can be no second coming of Christ without the rise of anti-Christ.  There can be no rise of anti-Christ without the restoration of the Jews in the Holy Land.  And this was a view that was taught in Britain and the United States from the 1830s on.

What I see as most significant about the evangelical approach to the Middle East is that it took an enormous turn, of course, in 1948 with the founding of the state of Israel, and then again it took great urgency again by 1970 after the Six-Day War, when Israel gained a lot of territory and began to put together a map that looked very much like the maps that used to hang on evangelicals' Sunday School walls.

Evangelicals love Israel because they're in the Bible a lot -- (laughter) -- from the beginning to the end.  Jesus was the son of God and the son of Israel, and all the children of Israel were the apples of God's eye.  For that reason alone, if a Bible prophecy was never uttered, those facts are enough to keep evangelicals in the game with Israel.

But you had this other thing, this premillennial dispensationalism, which really has given a public voice to a minority position within the evangelical community.  And we can say some more about that later.

BRONSON:  Eliza, why don't you talk a little bit?  The panel's been couched as evangelicalism with American foreign policy and the Middle East.  But a lot of your work is showing the importance of Muslim communities and where Christians meet Muslims outside and around and throughout the Middle East.  I mean, maybe you can talk a little bit about how really we should be thinking about our foreign policy in the Middle East and then beyond.

ELIZA GRISWOLD:  Well, I think what's important to remember, that 80 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims live outside what we term the Middle East.  So when we're looking at the encounter of evangelical Christianity and Islam, we're looking primarily in the developing world in Africa and Asia.

Now, we've been hearing a lot about this 10/40 window, which I thought I might define -- just kind of backup and define for a minute so we'd understand some of the terms.  And again, I think it's essential to remember that there's not one unified position or evangelical view of what this window is.  But the 10/40 window is also called the window of opportunity.  It's a geographic space that begins on the line of latitude 10 degrees north of the equator and it continues up until the line 40 degrees north of the equator.  It's a rectangle.  Inside live about two-thirds of the world's population.  Eighty-five percent of the poorest of the poor, which means people who live on less than $500 a year.  And I think it's between -- it's a soft figure -- but definitely over 90 percent have not been reached with the gospel -- have not heard someone preach to them directly about salvation through Jesus Christ.  So that is what this 10/40 window.

It was named in 1990 by an evangelist named Luis Bush --

MARSHALL:  No relation.

GRISWOLD:  I don't know.  (Laughter.)

Anyway, so -- and it became and still is -- I don't want to overstate its importance as some sort of pre-millennial drive, but it is certainly a focus among evangelical Christians and missionaries for the last great push of salvation -- reaching the unreached within this window.

Now, what I have been looking at specifically is that line of latitude 10 degrees north of the equator, which is about 700 miles north of the equator.  That splits, Nigeria, Sudan, the Horn of Africa; it runs through Somalia and Ethiopia; it's just above Indonesia and Asia and it splits the Philippines north-south.

In Sudan, in particular — which is a point of interest I'm looking forward to hearing Paul talk about -- the Brits used this 10th parallel to divide the north and south in 1905.  Now, right now looking at the evangelical presence in south Sudan, really the reason that we know about what's going on in south Sudan is the presence of evangelical relief workers who have absolutely consistently supported the people of south Sudan, and not just because they're perceived as Christians.  And they are the first to say, this is beyond a religious understanding.  Yet, there is a very -- there's a point in the current peace agreement that was forged in 2005 between north and south that involved a very specific oil rich area between north and south and it is directly on this 10th parallel.  And it is looking like -- the place is called Abyei -- and it's looking like peace may break down again.

So there's -- I was just speaking yesterday to a wonderful evangelical relief worker who was saying, watch Abyei, watch Abyei.  And he is not in the State Department.  And you know, he knows who's going where and why, because he's deeply committed to that work.

BRONSON: Let me pick up on that and kind of continue to broaden the conversation.  But Eliza, let's start with you and kind of the sort missionary work and where Christians and Muslims meet about sort of the key concerns and issues for evangelicals in the Middle East.  And so we talked a little bit before about persecution and things like this.  So I'd like to start with you on that one about talking about this particular issue of such key concern.

GRISWOLD:  Well, I think one place to begin in the Middle East -- I was in Iraq when the war began and I was with a group of missionaries who used what they call "creative access" -- meaning that they were in Iraq teaching English and not openly working as missionaries.  This group had been there -- and that's all I'm going to say about them in terms of defining information -- they had been teaching English through the first Gulf War and providing aid work there.  And although there is no question their primary and singular drive in their head was to bring people to salvation through Christ, their success rate was extremely low by their own admission.  And what served the daily good in a very important way was the teaching of English, the medical care.  So why that may not be the primary drive, very frankly -- by many of the missionaries who work within this area -- that is their primary affect.

When it comes to persecution, looking at persecution in terms of basically -- I think the nexus of evangelical Christianity -- and Paul will address this in detail, I'm sure -- the nexus of evangelical issues and human rights is really this issue of persecution.  It is extremely real.  We may couch it as something else.  You know, I mean, southern Sudan is a perfect example.  I went several months ago to a conference in Franklin, Tennessee called Voice of the Martyrs, which serves the persecuted church.  That is their mandate.  They work mostly in PR, so it's a pretty flashy presentation of information.  One pastor, an American, got up and talked about a southern Sudanese boy he had met -- and he showed pictures of this boy -- who had been sent to the north as a slave.  Clearly, he was sold and working as a slave.  And this boy had, in fact, been crucified and survived.  But he was nailed to planks.  Now, the pastor's understanding of that was that he was crucified in terms of Jesus -- that this was a direct corollary to his being Christian.  But identity isn't fixed.  It's shifting all the time and this young boy had about 10 identities.  So there's a very important and in many ways providential to both the human rights community and the evangelical community that brings these two concerns together around issues of persecution.

BRONSON:  Paul, let me ask you to kind of pick up on this and talk about the importance of religious freedom and what it means for foreign policy, and for the U.S., and looking and thinking about the Middle East and our involvement in the Middle East.

MARSHALL:  Okay.

Just in terms of foreign policy, religious freedom, I don't think, is being properly taken up as an issue.  One reason is still in Washington in foreign policy, religion is not taken seriously.  I would say the difference is 10 years ago people would tell you, well, religion wasn't that important for foreign policy.  Now, almost nobody will say that.  They say, oh, yeah.  We realize now it's important.  But people produce their reports in exactly the same way.  It doesn't -- it has not been integrated into an understanding.  And so the problem of religious freedom is an issue.  And Tom Farr has a -- long-time the first head of the Religious Freedom Office in the State Department -- has a book coming out next year on this.  As a humanitarian thing -- there's someone in prison, we want to get them out of prison.  So you deal -- you put out fires.  And that's worthwhile -- more than that is done.

But in areas where religion is plainly significant -- and that's most of the world -- I could put it this way:  When religion and politics intertwine, if you don't have religious freedom, you cannot have political freedom.  If there's no freedom for Muslims to argue about the meaning of Islam, in a state which defines itself as an Islamic state, then you can't argue about the political order.  So it's not a marginal issue.  It's central to the discussion of democratization and many other things.  It's especially true in the Middle East.  You know, the Iranians, the Saudis, the Egyptians will imprison religious and political reformers -- who are often the same -- on grounds of blasphemy.  So that's a general background statement.

In the Middle East as a whole, most of the non-Muslim -- there's lots of Muslim religious minorities -- most of the non-Muslim religious minorities are disappearing.  And there are other groups -- there are Mandaeans, Sabians, Yazidis and so forth in Iraq -- but in most of this area, 90 percent of the minorities you're talking about are Christian, and historic.

If I can interrupt myself -- just to pick up on language, we often refer to these as "Muslim countries."  Quite a few of these countries are demographically no more Muslim than the United States is Christian, okay -- certainly Lebanon, obviously; Syria would be another example; Egypt is another one.  They're no more -- they're as religiously diverse as the United States is.  So when we start calling them Muslim countries, if you happen not to be a Muslim who lives in that country, that's also of concern.

So these communities are leaving -- obviously the Palestinians, the Palestinian Christian population is now a tenth of what it was 30 or 40 years ago.  But it's not simply a Palestinian thing.  There's a similar movement out of Turkey, the old Christian communities -- the Syriacs in the southeast, they've, by and large, gone -- and it's much more than guest workers.  You're seeing a movement out of Jordan.  You're seeing a movement out of Syria.  Also in Egypt, that's the largest group going, but I think their birth rate may be high enough so that they're self-sustaining.

Then the obvious example is, of course, Iraq.  You know, every Iraqi has suffered, but you find out that amongst the refugees, the minorities -- who are four percent of the population, are over 40 percent of the refugees.  They don't have militias.  They can't fight back.  They can't defend.  So they go.  So you see this large scale movement out.

Evangelicals, more than most Americans, are aware of that.  They see reports of persecution; they often know much more about what's going on than other people.  So this also colors (their ?) views of Islam, in general, because -- (inaudible) -- when you hear about Islam it's very often in these particular contexts.  So let me leave that there.  I can say more -- then I'll break.

BRONSON:  Yeah, we'll come back -- we'll come back because I want to get to Tim, but I'm reminded the economist quote, just recently -- and Adrian, you may have written it (laughs), but saying that "Faithful Unsettle Politics Everywhere This Century."  And unless we understand that, Washington understands that, and figures out how to engage, we will be operating with one hand tied behind our back on the foreign policy stage.

Tim, let me ask you to pick up where Paul left off, talking a little bit about the views of Muslim countries.  But also clearly very important to this -- and you kind of hinted in your introduction, is the role of Israel, and pro-Israel take, and some splits that are happening recently, but if you can kind of round that out for us in terms of thinking about the role of our own domestic politics and foreign policy, and how this pro-Israel sentiment plays itself out.

WEBER:  In my latest book on this subject I equated the changes within the pre-millennial community in these terms:  I talked about how, for most of their history, dispensationalists have been sitting in the stands on history's 50-yard line, (laughter) looking at the field below, watching the teams enter the stadium, begin to take up positions and then predicting what was going to happen next.  Their job was to explain the game before the game started -- and certainly before it ended.

But after the founding of the State of Israel -- and especially after the Six-Day War, more and more of these pre-millennialists believed that it was time to get out of the stands and get down on the field where they could arrange the teams in ways that fit their scenario.  So they became activists, not just observers and explainers.

Much of this new approach came about at the urging of the Israelis in the late '70s, early '80s.  Israel recognized that it was quickly losing the liberal Protestant support that it had had before the Six-Day War.  And when they did not withdraw from occupied territory, mainline Protestantism began to be highly critical of the Jewish state.  And they discovered instead, the fundamentalist, evangelical, pre-millennialists world that they didn't know much about before; and they began to court in major ways.  And the pre-millennialists loved it, and they responded.

Sometimes even prime ministers of Israel would help evangelical prophesy-types arrange tours of Israel to bring their constituencies there.  And from that time to this, Tel Aviv Airport is just flooded with evangelical tour groups to walk where Jesus walked, and to get the Israeli spin on the Middle East crisis.  And this has been a very important part of this marriage that has taken place.

So what we have, since the early '80s, is a -- is a tendency among some of these prophesy believers to organize in very overtly political ways, to influence American foreign policy.  And they've done so by creating essentially political action groups with names like "Christian Friends of Israel," "Bridges for Peace," "International Fellowship of Christians and Jews" -- which is run by a rabbi but which is supported overwhelmingly by evangelicals, or the "International Embassy -- International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem," we could go and on.

Most recently, the one that has received a lot of recent public attention is "Christians United for Israel," which is headed by John Hagee, who has a big church in San Antonio.  They have -- this last summer they had a huge rally in Washington -- 4,500 people came.  They trained them to disperse on Capitol Hill and lobby their various members of Congress and Senators on Israel with talking points.

I'm on the mailing list and I got my "E-mail Alert" this last week to e-mail the White House about the Annapolis Conference; to urge the White House to "Cut it out," and not to pressure Israel anymore to give up land for peace.  There's just all this kind of very sophisticated political involvement among that kind of group.

Now other evangelicals don't see it this way -- never have, never will.  They don't read the bible, prophetically, in the same way but they still are very pro-Israel.  In August a group of 34, I think -- evangelical leaders, presidents of seminaries, denominational leaders, apparent church leaders of various kinds, wrote a letter to the president urging him to recognize two things:  Number one, not all evangelicals are in the prophetic camp; and secondly, not all -- a very large number of evangelicals are for a Two-state solution in the Middle East.  And they sent that off.

John Hagee responded and said, "Evangelicals will laugh to scorn, this letter.  Well, what happened in Annapolis -- all those e-mails, all that lobbying did not stop Annapolis from happening, but that letter was right, it was calling on the president to do what he did in Annapolis.  So that raises all kinds of interesting questions about who's got the political connections and the political power in the evangelical community, under this president, to influence American foreign policy.

BRONSON:  Eliza, picking up on some of this, we were talking a little bit before about Israel and Palestine, in light of your work.  I wonder if you had some thoughts in terms of dispensational views, or maybe even talking about a little bit social justice and where that plays into all this conversation about where the evangelical community is going.

GRISWOLD:  Sure.  Well, definitely the prophetic tradition is alive and well outside of Israel and Palestine.  I mean, a couple of months ago I was in the "middle belt" of Nigeria which -- and, again, generalizations are dangerous here, but the mostly-Muslim north of Nigeria meets a predominantly-Christian south in an area called Middle Belt, which unsurprisingly, is 10 degrees north of the equator.  And again, it's the southern edge of arid land.  So basically, that's as far as Islam got during the 19th century before tsetse flies caused camels and horses to die of sleeping sickness.  So that's where Islam stopped.

And now, I think really important to our discussion today, is to remember that this explosive growth of effervescent Christianity in Africa and Latin American and Asia -- but especially along that sub Saharan region -- is one of the things driving our foreign policy, because we're seeing a new form of belief and really listening to people who have a form faith that does not necessarily come from us.

But anyway, back to social justice issues.  Well, in the middle belt, for example, there's a specific field that lies between a small Islamic emirate and a Christian village.  Maybe -- certainly over 1,000 people have died in the past several years fighting over this one field.  Now, religion is one of a thousand factors in that life.  You have land.  You have desertification, the influence of climate change and grazing patterns -- all of these play into issues of social justice throughout the developing world.  And then religion comes to color conflicts in an extremely convenient way for those who want to propagate conflict.

Am I answering your question enough?

BRONSON:  You are.  I mean, what I was fishing for a little bit.  And Paul, you can wrap us up too before we go to the Q&A.  But you know, in sort of my recent conversations, there's been this overwhelmingly pro-Israel sentiment.  This notion, though, of social justice has been very important to evangelicals and that is leading some to begin to take a more pro-Palestinian view in terms of their views of social justice and what's just.

So in that context -- and I probably should have set it up a little bit better -- I know that you've been running into sort of conflicts and questions around social justice --

GRISWOLD:  Oh, absolutely.

BRONSON:  -- elsewhere around the world.  But I'd like to come back to it, because, Paul, I want you to kind of jump in on this too.

MARSHALL:  Yeah.  A couple of things here:  You've always got to be careful with polling data.  We see amongst evangelicals a strong pro-Israel sentiment.  Amongst most, the major thing that boils down to is you want Israel to be protected.  It survives.  It exists.  If that is established, then you could do other things.  And I've seen some polling data which says -- actually, support for a Palestinian state is higher amongst evangelicals than it is amongst the general population.  The opposition isn't to a Palestinian state.  The basic thing is the preservation of Israel.  If that is secured, then one, you know -- you want the Palestinians to be happy and prosperous and as wealthy as possible.

And again, the concern about a lot of the Muslim world is, again, it's repressive.  If they haven't got oil, it tends to be very poor.  So that's there.  But with Israel and the Palestinians it's submerged to the basic conflict.  In other areas there's a lot of relief work going on.  That's true in Iraq.  Some of the major relief NGOs, even in Egypt, are indigenous Christian ones.  So that goes on, but the religious freedom-religious persecution issue in a lot of the area, then the Israel and the Palestinian issue overshadows that.

To add something else:  We've been talking -- when we've been talking about evangelicals, we've been talking more of say movement evangelicals or sociological terms, public opinion.  I'd just like to add, as you mentioned before, if you took that -- you know, if you raised -- what about evangelicals in Annapolis?  I said, well, I saw this evangelical standing in the middle of the Israelis and the Palestinians.  His name's George Bush.  A chief organizer of that was another one named Condi Rice.  I was surprised when we talked about Africa we didn't talk about Mike Guss (sp) and his role in that.  Or going back further from Middle Eastern politics take another one -- James Baker.  There are many evangelical figures who've been involved in foreign policy circles who are not identified as evangelicals -- that's not their public persona or whatever -- but nevertheless are.

Amongst elite evangelicals is a very strong realist streak, I think you'll find.  And let me throw out one other name which hasn't come up, who's very influential:  Doug Coe of the Fellowship.  Somebody mentioned before that evangelicals were -- I think it was Rich -- not very big on dialogue or at least structured dialogue, often very big on reconciliation.  There's quite a few organizations, lots of Catholic ones as well, who work on that.  A new group in Washington called the Fellowship -- that's very much one of their themes.  And they're quite influential in terms of foreign policy -- not so much on the hard edge, but bringing people together.  They've done this with Sudan.  And I think in discussions about Israel and the Palestinians they've done a lot of informal diplomacy -- what's the expression -- the two-track or third track.  There's a lot of that going on.  Someone like Doug Coe, I think, would have been very influential in bringing these parties together. So there's this subterranean element going on too.  Again, that's not mass opinion.  But if you're dealing with office holders, there's a lot of influence which we haven't really touched on much.

BRONSON:  Let me open up to the audience -- you've got a whole bunch of very broad themes here -- and just look for your engagement after a nice lunch.

Right there -- Jeff.  You can stand and introduce yourself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you, Rachel.  Jeff Laurenti at the Century Foundation.

While Israeli authorities are far more hospitable to Christian minorities within Israel than a lot of Christians in Arab -- suffocatingly Muslim societies nearby are -- still, Palestinian Christians have been active in the Palestinian cause almost from the beginning.  Is it that evangelicals don't see these Christian surviving communities that have lasted 14 centuries under Muslim domination -- Israeli Christian, because they're Catholic or Orthodox or whatever?  Because one has the sense that there is not much bonding among at least nominally co-shared Christian communities.  And you know, they certainly don't have, it would seem, an interest in the holy places the way the Catholic and Orthodox churches have been battling over each other for the Holy Church of the Holy Sepulcher and such.  What is the view among evangelicals of those Christian communities inside historic Palestine and the broader Middle East?

WEBER:  Let me say that this is one of the most surprising things to me in my own research was how evangelical Christians in America with this prophetic slant could so totally miss these Christian communities in the Middle East -- especially the Arab ones.  I think it's safe to say that Palestinian Christians simply do not make it on the dispensationalist radar screen.  They're just not there.  And some people who have taken these kind of prophetic -- prophetically informed tours of Israel will say that when they have asked about, can we meet with some Christians here in Israel?  They've been told there aren't any.  Well, there are -- although most of them have moved to Detroit in recent years.  I mean, the percentage of the Christian community among the Arab population -- the Palestinian population has greatly been reduced in the last couple of decades, because they find themselves caught in between Israel and the Muslim community and they're getting it from both sides.

But I think it's true that evangelicals from this prophetic point of view just don't see that community as playing a role in end-time events.  And if you don't play a role, then you don't show up.

MARSHALL:  If I could add on that:  not just the prophet camp, but American evangelicals have generally have not been aware of Middle East Christians.  In that, they're probably typical of Americans.  That's why I said, even we fall into calling these places Arab countries.  Well, there are Kurds.  There are all sorts of other people.  We call them Muslim countries.  There are all sorts of non-Muslims.

They hadn't been aware of that.  When people had been aware of it -- when earlier missionaries -- Presbyterians, say, founded the American University of Beirut, American University of Cairo, and so on -- with the exception of the Anglican, the Episcopalian -- they often didn't relate.

With evangelicals, the emphasis is very much on a living committed faith.  You've got to live that out.  You go to these places and these people just seem like everybody else.  They may show up in church on Sunday, but it doesn't do anything.  So they're just nominal Christians.  They're -- you know, they don't -- they're not really committed.  They're not real believers.  So ignore it or object to evangelism.  I think that's changing and it's changing quite rapidly as people start to become aware of the historic communities there.  But in general, evangelicals haven't been aware of them and when they had been, dismissed them.

Let me just put in a sort of additional ad on top of that because mentioning the universities there.  The disappearance of the Christian communities from the Middle East is, I think, an important foreign policy issue for reasons -- I mean, it's not just a concern of Christians.  You could say, "Well, it's sad that they're going, but does that really affect world dynamics?"  I think it does.  One has been disproportionately, the Christian communities have related to the West.  If you look in the Arab world, say, in terms of the growth of literature, education, many other things -- it's been disproportionately the minorities.  They have related to the West and that continues.  They've imported other ideas -- ideas of democracy, liberalism and so on have generally come through Christians.  Also other ones -- Ba'athism was chief -- early ideologue of -- Ba'athism was at first -- you know, Greek Orthodox -- Michel Aflaq.  So they brought in bad ideas, but very much a gateway that it goes -- you know, if they disappear, that creates that problem.

And secondly, they maintain that society is plural.  If you want religious freedom and I -- religious freedom is a gateway to many other freedoms, that's harder -- it's easier to argue for if there's more religious diversity.  It doesn't mean you can't without it, but it's tougher.  So if the size is approaching 99.9 percent of Muslim, these questions start to recede and you miss other forms of pluralism there.  So I think it will in fact affect the dynamics of the region as such.  So it's an important issue for all of us.

BRONSON:  Let me jump in.  Eliza, do you want to pick up or do you want to back to the audience?

GRISWOLD:  Yeah.

I want to say that I think that the flight of minority Christians is extremely important to evangelicals because it plays into their perception of persecution.  Here we're being forced out.  We will not be forced out.  We will stand our ground and then leads to especially vis-a-vis Islam a greater binary division that then feeds into this idea of light versus darkness, salvation versus damnation and a very deep line in the sand that can be problematic for local communities and for our foreign policy.  So I think that's an important point today.

BRONSON:  That's very helpful. let me come right here, and then I'll head over there.

Please stand and introduce yourself.

QUESTIONER:  Thanks, Rachel.

My name is Pernan Qupei (zp).

You talked about Christianity in the Middle East, and obviously this is Christianity among Arabs.  But there's another Christianity, of course, which is that of expatriates and if you look at countries of the Gulf, for example, the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries -- nearly 80 (percent) to 85 percent of their populations are not indigenous.

WEBER:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTIONER:  They are expatriate.  And an overwhelming majority of those populations -- the expatriate ones, that is -- are indeed Christian or they are Hindu or they are non-Muslim.

Now this ties in with the question of freedom to worship -- freedom of worship.  And my question really is that how much to evangelicals take into account in their proselytizing or in their outreach to the Middle East the whole question of being able to worship or the worship in a church?  In Saudi Arabia, for example, that's banned.  In most -- or if not most, many Muslim countries, that kind of non-Muslim or non-Islamic worship is banned.  In the UAE, for example, it's far more liberal.  What sort of talk is going on right now and where do you see any new approaches toward this issue, if any?

Thanks.

WEBER:  Okay.

The point is very good with the expatriate population.  We notice in Saudi Arabia.  But as you mention, the smaller Gulf countries are majority expats.  And the question of freedom of religion -- even just freedom of worship, which is obviously only one part of freedom of religion, becomes important.  And we're always emphasizing -- when you mention this to people over here, they always think you're talking about the American oil executives.  I said, "No, they're from India.  They're from -- you know, they're from Egypt."  You know, Egypt -- a lot of Egyptian Christian workers in the Gulf.  But, you know, the Philippines especially with Bangladesh, India, elsewhere, the usually very poor people have no idea what's in their contract when they go over there to work.  So their situation is very important.

In terms of freedom of worship -- I mean, this is getting raised with the Saudi's a lot -- it's an important issue for evangelicals.  Evangelicals -- and I'm encouraging as many as possible to push our government to, you know, keep leaning on the Saudis on this issue.  With the other Gulf countries, there is more room to negotiate.  Kuwait has a variety of churches.  It has very traditional Christian families, so there are not just expats but Christian Kuwaitis.  Qatar has allowed the construction -- recently the construction of -- a Catholic church and donated the land to do that, and the government's also donating land for construction of other churches.  So with Bahrain, with Quatar, you're seeing some movement more in Kuwait.  With the Emirates, I'd have to know more.  But I -- in these settings, I think partially because economically they're growing, they're the wealthier -- they're feeling more relaxed.  I think good diplomacy is starting to open doors there.

With the Saudis, who are much more ideologically dug in on this and trying to portray themselves as the Vatican of Islam, which is very un-Islamic, the -- it's much tougher.

BRONSON:  Let me just --

WEBER:  Oh.

But -- again, though -- but to just to emphasize, the majority of the people -- not in the Gulf states, but in the country at large -- the majority of people we're talking about are not expats, they're not missionaries.  They're 2,000-year-old communities.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  I'm Jim Wallace from Boston University.

We have alluded to earlier in our conversation today about how evangelicals have had their differences in the past historically with both the Catholic community, the Jewish community -- but how bridges have been built over different issues -- the Catholic community particularly over social issues, the Jewish community primarily over Israel.  My question is this.  Do you see any hope for building bridges between evangelicals -- particularly neo-evangelicals versus the more fundamentalist variety and the Islamic revivalist versus the Islamic fundamentalist?  Where, how, on what issues could bridges be built between evangelicals and the Islamic revivalists with whom they share both values and some theological perspectives on the world?

BRONSON:  Eliza.

GRISWOLD:  Oh, I know -- that's a great question.

Here in this country around some of those moral issues about, you know, sex education and abstinence, there has been some movement between, let's say, conservative Christians and conservative Muslims to find some common ground on -- really, an education policy would be the primary place.  I think that can be dangerous because, for example, if you look at faith-based foreign policy, which sometimes -- I went with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, who has a $500 million-a-year evangelical empire, to meet with President Bashir, the president of Sudan, for the first time in 2003.  And this is a man he has called just as evil as Saddam Hussein, even more so.  And this meeting was possible because, ostensibly, you're dealing with two leaders who place their faith before anything else.  In truth, that meeting ended up not being, although Franklin was able to ask about his right to evangelize and makes some strides toward that, what happened was these two people were coming from a point of view.  Both said, "I'd like to convert you; no, I'd like to convert you."

And the ability of the deep moral respect wasn't really present, because -- (laughter) -- and I think there really can't be deep understanding without some notions of absolute salvation.  "I am going to heaven and you are not, my friend."  Those can be extremely problematic in working out real-life issues.  So I think there has to be a deeper sense of pluralism before approaching some of those other social issues.

MARSHALL:  But you can also have -- I was about to add, "Well, I want to convert you."  "I want to convert you."  He says, "Good, then we're in agreement."  (Laughter.)

GRISWOLD:  Well, and that is --

MARSHALL:  But that's serious.

GRISWOLD:  And that's religious freedom, of course.

MARSHALL:  Yeah.  But it also means you know where the other person is coming from; then you can deal with that.  I'm always amused by people who say, "Well, obviously, get rid of all the conversion (thing ?) and then we'll have agreement."  He says, "No, they're much more in agreement already than they are with you.  You're the odd person out here."

So I think there is this foundation.  I was also in Nigeria finding out that quite a few of the Muslim schools in the north use curriculum, (sex ?) education, which they adapted with the help of the Southern Baptists, from the Southern Baptist curriculum being used in the Christian schools in Nigeria.

So you start to see this overlap in cooperation.  But, you know, the fact that you have two groups of people who take their religion seriously -- you know, that's why often evangelicals get along much better with Orthodox Jews than with Reform Jews, because you take your beliefs seriously, and so you can understand someone else.

I was talking to -- I shouldn't take too many anecdotes, but I was talking to one Muslim in Texas.  He says, "It's much easier being a Muslim in Texas.  People here take their religion seriously and they take mine."  He says, "I can close my store five times a day here to pray and people understand that."  He says, "You try and do that in France, you're a nut case."  Or you wear a head cover. Oh, people understand that.  Amish wear head covers.  All the Mennonites wear head covers.  Nuns wear head covers.  People -- it's assumed that people are religious, so you're open about that.

So I don't want to exaggerate it.  The opposition is there, but there is room for cooperation.  And there's been a lot of sort of faith-based diplomacy amongst more radical Muslims and conservative Christians.

GRISWOLD:  And just a note to that, that Franklin Graham has an ongoing relationship with Bashir that has been helpful in other ways.  But one other note is that I don't think you have to be conservative to take your religion seriously.

MARSHALL:  Yeah.

BRONSON:  Let me come over to Tim here on this.

WEBER:  Yeah, just a brief comment.  There is a Muslim-evangelical dialogue beginning here in America.  Back in July, a meeting was held, put together by Benny Hinn.  Do you know who Benny Hinn is?  He's on TV, healing things, lots of things.  But anyway, Benny Hinn got together this group of Muslim -- or ambassadors from Arab countries in the Middle East and a bunch of evangelical leaders with things like Falwell and Robertson.

Before you get too excited, these were the sons of Falwell and Robertson.  This is a generational shift -- a different style, a different openness to talking with different kinds of people.  And Rick Cizik was there for that.  And I think there's some more scheduled.  Right, Rick?  Do you want to say just a word?

RICHARD CIZIK:  I'm not sure what's going to happen.  It was pretty interesting, though.  Benny Hinn went around the room and introduced both sides.  I think that the evangelicals, like Ron Godwin, who had been one of the founders with Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and the Moral Majority, he was interested in an academic kind of contact.

I think Jonathan Falwell was speaking for religious freedom.  That's what he was saying.  Don Argue was there.  He's from the NAE.  He's on the International Religious Freedom Commission, recently sworn in by Hillary Clinton; Don generally for increasing relationships and diplomacy.  Everyone had a little bit different agenda.

I think the Muslim ambassadors were primarily interested in sounding them out; like you say, second-generation leaders to see if they were at all willing to move on the question of Israel.  And the evangelicals present, they weren't willing to say they were.  They weren't willing to acknowledge that there's any room here for dialogue.

But sitting at the end of the table, I at one point said, "I think, knowing some on both sides" -- because we've been doing this since 2003, the same kind of thing, but not quite so high-profile.  (There has ?), as somebody said, (been ?) fellowship for years.  But I think there was a sounding out to see if there's any flexibility in the policies that evangelicals have been holding so dear to them on these issues, especially those within that community.  And so whether it takes flight and becomes anything more than what it was once, I'm not sure.

But the question I would have is, can we improve relations with the Muslim leaders around the world -- that is, the evangelicals -- can the evangelicals, without a change in our foreign policy views?

BRONSON:  So let me just get this straight.  You're asking the panelists -- (laughs) -- whether --

CIZIK:  In their mind, yeah.

BRONSON:  Yeah -- I mean, whether evangelicals -- because you have an important answer to that, I would think.  But I'm going to come back to the panel since you threw it to them.

WEBER:  Well, I think, from the prophecy-based evangelical community, there's not going to be any perceptive change on some of these issues.  They believe the Bible is clear on what's going to happen and what their responsibilities are for the future; that is, stick with Israel no matter what, because history is under the control of a sovereign God who spelled out the details.  And therefore, if you go against those details, if you back the wrong horse in these kinds of political debates, you not only are opposed to God, but you incur the judgment of God on yourself.

And there's a real interesting part of this prophecy community that is constantly warning about the practical consequences of going for a two-state solution.  They said, "You know what happened the last time America pushed hard for a two-state solution?  God sent us Katrina and Rita.  And just wait what's going to happen after Annapolis."  So there's that kind of fear.  So, you know, people with that mentality are not going to sit down at a table and say, "Let's talk about the West Bank."  They're just not going to do it.

But this other evangelical group made up their minds a long time ago that one of the best ways of being pro-Israel is to help Israel survive in its community, and that is by making peace.  So they write the letters and they support the president in his attempt to bring about a Palestinian state.  So, again, there's not one evangelical answer to that question.

BRONSON:  Walter, let me turn to you.  I know that you have a -- (inaudible).  Wait for the mike.  Introduce yourself.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  I'm Walter Mead here at the Council.

Maybe this is for Eliza primarily, but the others would probably have something to add to it too.  I was in Nairobi last summer, and the big best-selling book on display at the Anglican cathedral in Nairobi was John Hagee's book on Israel.  And I'm wondering, you know, has, through this rapid Christianization of other parts of the global south, are you getting an export also of some of these prophecy views and other sort of emotional support for Israel?  And how much has this been playing into relations between Christian and Muslim communities in those parts of the world?

GRISWOLD:  I think primarily what you're seeing is Palestine is a huge issue for every Islamic community from, you know, Detroit to rural Nigeria.  So the issue of Palestine obviously has those kind of legs.

In terms of biblical prophesy tradition yes, very much so in areas of conflict because -- I mean, I'm thinking specifically about a church that was burned down in 2004 by a group in -- a group of Muslims who surrounded the church and shouted and burnt the church down and killed every Christian coming out.

Now, what isn't told in that story -- and then the Christians who live in that community -- and most had to leave afterwards and they're now coming back -- believe that that is the destruction of the temple foreordained -- that they have now entered end times quite viscerally, and Voice of the Martyrs sent them $18,000 to rebuild their church.  So that has become even a more pronounced fault line along -- so yes, that's definitely happening, not -- I haven't seen -- you know, in Nigeria and Sudan and Indonesia and Malaysia, the Horn of Africa and the Philippines -- I haven't seen a lot of awareness of -- about Israel per se among new Christians but I have seen Palestine for sure and biblical prophesy of end times in other ways.

MEAD:  Where was the church burned down?  Where did that happen?

GRISWOLD:  This church was burned down in the town of Yelwa.

MEAD:  In Nigeria?

GRISWOLD:  Yeah, and just to make sure that I told the full context of that, there were a series of -- right after that -- about two months after a group of Christians surrounded the town and massacred 900 Muslims who lived there so -- and these two communities are now coming back and this began very viscerally in a field.  So it's infinitely -- and about land and politics and of course power.  So -- no, but definitely.

WEBER:  Yeah.  The -- there is some export but comparatively little.  There's a few reasons.  One is I think -- I seem to remember about a lot of evangelicalism and especially dispensational kind, it's very Anglo American.  It was often tied up with a sort of British identity so that's the -- another feature when we're talking -- evangelicalism is so very American.  People -- what are the distinctions of evangelicalism?  Well, the distinctions of Americans -- it's individualism, it's activism, it's moralism -- all of those kinds of things.  So -- and then partially contradicting myself you go to evangelical -- you know, talk to British evangelicals.  Talk to Canadian evangelicals, then Nigerian, Ugandan, Singaporean.  Very different things going on.  That's one dynamic.

Secondly, particularly in Africa, most of the evangelicals will be Anglican, often Presbyterian, Methodist, and so on, you could probably say Catholic too.  The mainline churches are evangelical churches in most of Africa, and so in some ways have stronger theological traditions than many of the more free church evangelicals in the United States and so are less inclined to look at these prophetic strands.  If they go to theological education it's very often to England, no -- often are extremely well educated.  So I don't expect -- I expect a pro-Israel stance for -- because Israel is the people of the Bible -- it's that sort of second level of attachment -- but I don't expect developed prophetic scenarios to be that influential.

MARSHALL:  Just a quick word about how American prophetic tradition ends up in Israel.  This interesting marriage between the Israeli government, especially the Likud government and American pre-millennialists, one of the offshoots of that is that American pre-millennialists are often in cahoots with the so-called temple movement in Israel that sees the rebuilding of the Third Temple on Temple Mount as crucial to Israel's identity and survival, and they do it from a Jewish perspective and so on but that fits so well with the expectations of American pre-millennialists who believe that there will be a Third Temple constructed which the Antichrist must enter and declare himself to be God.

So the coming of the Third Temple is right smack dab in the middle of expectations.  So you can see why American pre-millennialists would really like to cozy up with the temple movement and have done so.  There's something called the Temple Institute in Jerusalem where certain Israelis have begun to do research and to reconstruct and refashion temple utensils for the sacrifice of animals when the temple is built, and to train rabbis -- not rabbis, but priests to do animal sacrifice just like in the good old days.  But American pre-millennial tour groups show up in their busses to such places.  Then, of course -- I don't know if I have the time to do this -- but the red heifer interest -- you know, the -- yeah, the red heifer.  Well, not yet but just wait.  American cattle raisers who know bull semen better than anybody else are in the business of helping or trying to help produce the red heifer which is required for sacrifice so the Third Temple can be built and purified.  And when that happens, put on your crash helmet.

BRONSON:  Let me come right here.

QUESTIONER:  Vinay Samuel, Oxford Center for Mission Studies and Oxford Religion in Public Life.  The -- I just want to highlight the -- and ask a question to the panel.  The increasing confidence of evangelicals in the 1040 window and then on Western world -- where they're able to share their faith with confidence and say we are here to convert doesn't actually prevent them from looking at possibilities of cooperation on social issues as well.  Now I think we don't say until someone falls and if they're converted we're not going to work with you.  I don't think it's as rigid as that.  It might be in this country but I don't think it's as rigid as that elsewhere.

My question to the panel is that -- well, I have two but one particular question is that with this increasing confidence they're having their own positions -- public policy positions -- own political positions and because of the international connectivity of evangelicals, and I think evangelicals are noted now by this international connectivity, and the interesting thing about American and having been an evangelical involved for the last 45 years from this I've seen a change.  The younger evangelicals, like the Wyram (ph), younger evangelicals who are these 80 (percent) 90 percent of the people who are all over the world in different parts of the world, they are younger people.  They don't come with this degree of manifest destiny of America and exceptionalism of America.  It's hardly there.  In fact, it's -- even if it's there it's hidden very cleverly.  But they are there to hear and learn.  Now --

BRONSON:  Let me just ask you to get to your question --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER:  -- now, my question is where is that playing back into evangelicalism here?  Is that influencing evangelical -- U.S. evangelical thinking at all or is it simply evangelical foreign policy is driven by its  own particular concerns?  That's my question.

BRONSON:  I'm going to do something unfair because we're going to run out of time.  There was a question right over there.  Let me just make sure that I get this side of the room to add -- take the last two questions.  And I'm going to ask each of the panelists to take the two questions and respond with your views also for some last comments before we close.  Right here.

QUESTIONER:  Mark Berder (sp).  Several journalists and others have been writing recently about the upsurge of faith groups in China, particularly in the southwest of China, and there's a movement I understand -- a kind of pre-millennial-driven, theologically-driven movement among converted Chinese that they see as their destiny to convert Muslims in southwest China in a movement towards -- an evangelistic movement towards Jerusalem and towards the Holy Land.  In other words, it's a kind of a Chinese analog to a pre-millennial movement.  And my understanding is this is creating some serious heartburn both for the Chinese government and also with the Muslim communities in the southwestern part of China.  Can any of you speak to that issue?

MARSHALL:  I've heard of it.  I don't know much about it but within the Christian or Chinese Christian community, there is an amazing residue of this kind of prophetic thinking which takes different forms that is a holdover from the old era of Protestant missions -- you know, how the Protestant missionaries were expelled after the rise of -- after the Communist takeover.  But they left behind all kinds of interesting things and part of that is this kind of prophetic perspective which has become kind of Chinese and has morphed into different things.  And this is one example of that, but that's about all I can say.

BRONSON:  Do you want to add also -- any last points?  I just wanted to make sure.

MARSHALL:  Just in terms of Vinay's comment, let me just make an add with Walter's comments about, you know, do pre-millennial ideas play amongst African and other Christians?  Vinay, we won't have time to do it.  I think you'd be the best person to answer that question.

In terms of influence back in American evangelicalism from overseas, that's increasing.  It's been mentioned before.  Large numbers of American evangelicals go on short-term mission trips or travel elsewhere.  That's happening.  In that sense it's very cosmopolitan.  So people are aware -- not just Christians in other countries.  You've been in another country, you're aware of the society and so on.  Then in international gatherings you're getting -- you've organized quite a few of these -- of having, you know, Americans, Europeans, listening to evangelicals from other places.  So I see a major change in internationalization there.  I think the World Evangelical Fellowship is playing a role in that.  So yeah, I think there is something happening there.

In terms of China, probably the best person on that theme -- the Back to Jerusalem movement in China -- is probably David Ackman (sp).  He's written about this.  I'm not sure people are aware of that.  Statistics are -- good statistics are hard to come by, but the Christian church has been growing rapidly in China on a par with the growth in African and it could be upwards of 100 million now.  So it's possible you may then see the Korean-ization of China -- at least parallels here.

The Back to Jerusalem movement is saying, well, the Muslim world sort of sees its enemy as the West and so on.  What's it going to do with a few million Chinese missionaries if we start sending them?  So that movement is there.  I don't think it's a mainstream movement, even in the unregistered churches in China, but it's there.  Just to add one wrinkle:  That also ties back to the fact that the earliest Christian missionaries in China were, of course, from the Middle East.  They were Nestorian missionaries coming out of Iran.  And they established the first Christian monasteries in China in the 6th and 7th century.  China being very, historically, a war society, very much wanted to pick up on that and it sort of -- let's go back along the Silk Road.  So it's a very interesting phenomenon.

BRONSON:  Eliza?

GRISWOLD:  I think a couple of things.  I think, first of all, in terms of Western evangelical missionaries in the developing world -- in the 10/40 window, for example -- overwhelming, what I would say I've seen them learn and experience is humility.  It's overwhelm at the world in which they are and a great sense of duty to bring back what they've learned and then that being a huge impetus of social justice here in this country.

We also -- we haven't touched on it today, but the phenomenon of reverse missions, that especially in Nigeria there are -- the statistics are huge.  There are thousands of missionaries coming to America every year from Latin America and from Africa, in particular Nigeria, to bring us our faith back.  That's an explicit drive now.  And finally, I'd say, you know, faith grows in opposition.  You know, some of my favorite demographers will say, well, if you really want to grow a faith, show us some form of opposition, because that really creates an explosive growth movement.  And I think that's what we see in China.  And also, again, in indigenous communities in Africa and Asia this isn't a phenomenon of Westerners going somewhere and creating a problem.  This is people choosing faith traditions and that coming to bear on a host of local issues.

BRONSON:  Let me take the opportunity of being the closing panel here to thank a whole bunch of people.

First of all, I thank Walter, Tim and the Council on Foreign Relations for really providing this forum for us to have a fantastic conversation.  And the Luce Foundation who really is making this happen here in New York and really throughout the country; to the panelists for this morning -- this morning's two sessions; and to my panelists here for really wrapping it up, bringing it up to the contemporary period and leaving us all with a lot to think about.

So thank you to all.  (Applause.)

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

 

RACHEL BRONSON:  Good afternoon.  I'm Rachel Bronson.  I'm the vice president for Programs and Studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  And to allay any confusion, I had been at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York for a number of years, and so it's really terrific to be home again.  And I thank Harry and Tim and Walter for making that possible.

I'm just delighted to be moderating the session that we have this afternoon, which, after two what I thought were powerful and interesting conversations, we have a lot to live up to.  But I think any conversation on the Middle East, particularly American foreign policy in the Middle East, and especially the role of evangelicalism in American foreign policy and the Middle East, can be nothing but interesting.

And so we have a big task in front of us, but hopefully made a little bit easier by how challenging and interesting the subject itself is.

On the panel today are three fantastic people to speak with us about it.  And I hope that, in my role, I'm able to draw them out so that they can really showcase how interesting and important the subject is.

Tim Weber, to my left, is a senior consultant at EFL Associates.  In his role in higher education in Denver, he's been president of four institutions -- four institutions of graduate theological issues.  To his left, Eliza Griswold is a fellow at the National America Foundation.  And to her left is Paul Marshall, who is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Just to give a little background also before we get into the conversation, Tim's done some very important and path-breaking work on the role of evangelicalism and Israel.  Eliza is finishing a book on the 10/40 parallel that we've been hearing so much about and will allow us also to get into a little bit of conversation on missionaries today.  And then Paul, of course, has been working on issues of religious freedom.  That's been actually referred to in the conversation.  So here we have three experts on very important topics and issues when it comes to the Middle East.

So what we've agreed to kind of as a panel is just to take some very basic questions and have each of the panelists take it on and give their take of the questions.

So let me just start with Paul, and maybe just start very broadly, Paul, on how do evangelicals view the Muslim world and the Middle East?  I mean, as we think about this very big topic, can you kind of give us a sense of what that landscape looks like?

PAUL MARSHALL:  Okay.  As we heard this morning, any statement which begins "Evangelicals think" is -- I'd better rephrase that.  Is there an evangelical view of something?  No.

With Israel, as I think Tim will point out in much more detail and nuance, I think most evangelical opinion is supportive of Israel.  Of that, about one-third is probably for prophetic reasons, premillennial dispensationalists; I would say another third for biblical reasons -- (inaudible) -- view of the Jews.  So there's a biblical tie-in there, but it's not dispensational or prophetic.  And the third would see Israel as a democratic country which has our values and we should support them.  So there is generally a pro-Israel tilt.

That's also supplemented by the fact of a more negative or critical view of Middle Eastern countries generally, and a lot of that is tied to the treatment of the Christian minorities, which the evangelical world has become more aware of.  You know, most notably would, of course, be Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also with Egypt, with Turkey, with Syria, people becoming aware of what's happening in there.

So in short form, a pro-Israel tilt, for a variety of reasons, but also concern about a lot of the Middle East.  If we include Sudan in the Middle East -- it depends where we want to draw that boundary -- then particularly the north-south conflict in Sudan, that peace agreement is fraying, but still holding.

I would say, in terms of focus on any country, the focus on Sudan has been the largest amongst the evangelical community in the last 10 years, and a lot of that has carried over into Darfur.  So that's also a large issue for evangelicals.

BRONSON:  Tim, why don't you pick up on that about -- I mean, I think the point has been made repeatedly that evangelicals don't think something.  But yet Paul has kind of laid out some area where there is some commonality in general, a pro-Israel stance in general, concern with human rights; not that out of touch with the American public, actually, in many ways, which I think is interesting.

So how should -- when you look over the landscape of evangelicalism in foreign policy and thinking about the Middle East -- and we'll get specifically to Israel, but even your work, obviously, will inform that -- what is the role for evangelicals in thinking about American Middle East policy?  Who are they and where are they?

TIMOTHY P. WEBER:  Well, as Paul has pointed out, most evangelicals are very pro-Israel.  All the polls say so.  But not all evangelicals are pro-Israel for the same reason.  A quarter, a third at the most, probably, are very concerned about Israel and the Middle East for prophetic reasons.  They follow a particular view of Bible prophecy which originated in the 1830s in Britain called dispensationalism, came to this country in the 1870s after our Civil War, and, by World War I, was firmly established among people who were beginning to call themselves fundamentalists.

It is a view of the future which is extremely detailed.  The conviction is that the Bible contains a scenario of great import and great detail that spells out what's going to happen in what order, when and where.

Bottom line for dispensationalism is that there can be no second coming of Christ without the rise of anti-Christ.  There can be no rise of anti-Christ without the restoration of the Jews in the Holy Land.  And this was a view that was taught in Britain and the United States from the 1830s on.

What I see as most significant about the evangelical approach to the Middle East is that it took an enormous turn, of course, in 1948 with the founding of the state of Israel, and then again it took great urgency again by 1970 after the Six-Day War, when Israel gained a lot of territory and began to put together a map that looked very much like the maps that used to hang on evangelicals' Sunday School walls.

Evangelicals love Israel because they're in the Bible a lot -- (laughter) -- from the beginning to the end.  Jesus was the son of God and the son of Israel, and all the children of Israel were the apples of God's eye.  For that reason alone, if a Bible prophecy was never uttered, those facts are enough to keep evangelicals in the game with Israel.

But you had this other thing, this premillennial dispensationalism, which really has given a public voice to a minority position within the evangelical community.  And we can say some more about that later.

BRONSON:  Eliza, why don't you talk a little bit?  The panel's been couched as evangelicalism with American foreign policy and the Middle East.  But a lot of your work is showing the importance of Muslim communities and where Christians meet Muslims outside and around and throughout the Middle East.  I mean, maybe you can talk a little bit about how really we should be thinking about our foreign policy in the Middle East and then beyond.

ELIZA GRISWOLD:  Well, I think what's important to remember, that 80 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims live outside what we term the Middle East.  So when we're looking at the encounter of evangelical Christianity and Islam, we're looking primarily in the developing world in Africa and Asia.

Now, we've been hearing a lot about this 10/40 window, which I thought I might define -- just kind of backup and define for a minute so we'd understand some of the terms.  And again, I think it's essential to remember that there's not one unified position or evangelical view of what this window is.  But the 10/40 window is also called the window of opportunity.  It's a geographic space that begins on the line of latitude 10 degrees north of the equator and it continues up until the line 40 degrees north of the equator.  It's a rectangle.  Inside live about two-thirds of the world's population.  Eighty-five percent of the poorest of the poor, which means people who live on less than $500 a year.  And I think it's between -- it's a soft figure -- but definitely over 90 percent have not been reached with the gospel -- have not heard someone preach to them directly about salvation through Jesus Christ.  So that is what this 10/40 window.

It was named in 1990 by an evangelist named Luis Bush --

MARSHALL:  No relation.

GRISWOLD:  I don't know.  (Laughter.)

Anyway, so -- and it became and still is -- I don't want to overstate its importance as some sort of pre-millennial drive, but it is certainly a focus among evangelical Christians and missionaries for the last great push of salvation -- reaching the unreached within this window.

Now, what I have been looking at specifically is that line of latitude 10 degrees north of the equator, which is about 700 miles north of the equator.  That splits, Nigeria, Sudan, the Horn of Africa; it runs through Somalia and Ethiopia; it's just above Indonesia and Asia and it splits the Philippines north-south.

In Sudan, in particular — which is a point of interest I'm looking forward to hearing Paul talk about -- the Brits used this 10th parallel to divide the north and south in 1905.  Now, right now looking at the evangelical presence in south Sudan, really the reason that we know about what's going on in south Sudan is the presence of evangelical relief workers who have absolutely consistently supported the people of south Sudan, and not just because they're perceived as Christians.  And they are the first to say, this is beyond a religious understanding.  Yet, there is a very -- there's a point in the current peace agreement that was forged in 2005 between north and south that involved a very specific oil rich area between north and south and it is directly on this 10th parallel.  And it is looking like -- the place is called Abyei -- and it's looking like peace may break down again.

So there's -- I was just speaking yesterday to a wonderful evangelical relief worker who was saying, watch Abyei, watch Abyei.  And he is not in the State Department.  And you know, he knows who's going where and why, because he's deeply committed to that work.

BRONSON: Let me pick up on that and kind of continue to broaden the conversation.  But Eliza, let's start with you and kind of the sort missionary work and where Christians and Muslims meet about sort of the key concerns and issues for evangelicals in the Middle East.  And so we talked a little bit before about persecution and things like this.  So I'd like to start with you on that one about talking about this particular issue of such key concern.

GRISWOLD:  Well, I think one place to begin in the Middle East -- I was in Iraq when the war began and I was with a group of missionaries who used what they call "creative access" -- meaning that they were in Iraq teaching English and not openly working as missionaries.  This group had been there -- and that's all I'm going to say about them in terms of defining information -- they had been teaching English through the first Gulf War and providing aid work there.  And although there is no question their primary and singular drive in their head was to bring people to salvation through Christ, their success rate was extremely low by their own admission.  And what served the daily good in a very important way was the teaching of English, the medical care.  So why that may not be the primary drive, very frankly -- by many of the missionaries who work within this area -- that is their primary affect.

When it comes to persecution, looking at persecution in terms of basically -- I think the nexus of evangelical Christianity -- and Paul will address this in detail, I'm sure -- the nexus of evangelical issues and human rights is really this issue of persecution.  It is extremely real.  We may couch it as something else.  You know, I mean, southern Sudan is a perfect example.  I went several months ago to a conference in Franklin, Tennessee called Voice of the Martyrs, which serves the persecuted church.  That is their mandate.  They work mostly in PR, so it's a pretty flashy presentation of information.  One pastor, an American, got up and talked about a southern Sudanese boy he had met -- and he showed pictures of this boy -- who had been sent to the north as a slave.  Clearly, he was sold and working as a slave.  And this boy had, in fact, been crucified and survived.  But he was nailed to planks.  Now, the pastor's understanding of that was that he was crucified in terms of Jesus -- that this was a direct corollary to his being Christian.  But identity isn't fixed.  It's shifting all the time and this young boy had about 10 identities.  So there's a very important and in many ways providential to both the human rights community and the evangelical community that brings these two concerns together around issues of persecution.

BRONSON:  Paul, let me ask you to kind of pick up on this and talk about the importance of religious freedom and what it means for foreign policy, and for the U.S., and looking and thinking about the Middle East and our involvement in the Middle East.

MARSHALL:  Okay.

Just in terms of foreign policy, religious freedom, I don't think, is being properly taken up as an issue.  One reason is still in Washington in foreign policy, religion is not taken seriously.  I would say the difference is 10 years ago people would tell you, well, religion wasn't that important for foreign policy.  Now, almost nobody will say that.  They say, oh, yeah.  We realize now it's important.  But people produce their reports in exactly the same way.  It doesn't -- it has not been integrated into an understanding.  And so the problem of religious freedom is an issue.  And Tom Farr has a -- long-time the first head of the Religious Freedom Office in the State Department -- has a book coming out next year on this.  As a humanitarian thing -- there's someone in prison, we want to get them out of prison.  So you deal -- you put out fires.  And that's worthwhile -- more than that is done.

But in areas where religion is plainly significant -- and that's most of the world -- I could put it this way:  When religion and politics intertwine, if you don't have religious freedom, you cannot have political freedom.  If there's no freedom for Muslims to argue about the meaning of Islam, in a state which defines itself as an Islamic state, then you can't argue about the political order.  So it's not a marginal issue.  It's central to the discussion of democratization and many other things.  It's especially true in the Middle East.  You know, the Iranians, the Saudis, the Egyptians will imprison religious and political reformers -- who are often the same -- on grounds of blasphemy.  So that's a general background statement.

In the Middle East as a whole, most of the non-Muslim -- there's lots of Muslim religious minorities -- most of the non-Muslim religious minorities are disappearing.  And there are other groups -- there are Mandaeans, Sabians, Yazidis and so forth in Iraq -- but in most of this area, 90 percent of the minorities you're talking about are Christian, and historic.

If I can interrupt myself -- just to pick up on language, we often refer to these as "Muslim countries."  Quite a few of these countries are demographically no more Muslim than the United States is Christian, okay -- certainly Lebanon, obviously; Syria would be another example; Egypt is another one.  They're no more -- they're as religiously diverse as the United States is.  So when we start calling them Muslim countries, if you happen not to be a Muslim who lives in that country, that's also of concern.

So these communities are leaving -- obviously the Palestinians, the Palestinian Christian population is now a tenth of what it was 30 or 40 years ago.  But it's not simply a Palestinian thing.  There's a similar movement out of Turkey, the old Christian communities -- the Syriacs in the southeast, they've, by and large, gone -- and it's much more than guest workers.  You're seeing a movement out of Jordan.  You're seeing a movement out of Syria.  Also in Egypt, that's the largest group going, but I think their birth rate may be high enough so that they're self-sustaining.

Then the obvious example is, of course, Iraq.  You know, every Iraqi has suffered, but you find out that amongst the refugees, the minorities -- who are four percent of the population, are over 40 percent of the refugees.  They don't have militias.  They can't fight back.  They can't defend.  So they go.  So you see this large scale movement out.

Evangelicals, more than most Americans, are aware of that.  They see reports of persecution; they often know much more about what's going on than other people.  So this also colors (their ?) views of Islam, in general, because -- (inaudible) -- when you hear about Islam it's very often in these particular contexts.  So let me leave that there.  I can say more -- then I'll break.

BRONSON:  Yeah, we'll come back -- we'll come back because I want to get to Tim, but I'm reminded the economist quote, just recently -- and Adrian, you may have written it (laughs), but saying that "Faithful Unsettle Politics Everywhere This Century."  And unless we understand that, Washington understands that, and figures out how to engage, we will be operating with one hand tied behind our back on the foreign policy stage.

Tim, let me ask you to pick up where Paul left off, talking a little bit about the views of Muslim countries.  But also clearly very important to this -- and you kind of hinted in your introduction, is the role of Israel, and pro-Israel take, and some splits that are happening recently, but if you can kind of round that out for us in terms of thinking about the role of our own domestic politics and foreign policy, and how this pro-Israel sentiment plays itself out.

WEBER:  In my latest book on this subject I equated the changes within the pre-millennial community in these terms:  I talked about how, for most of their history, dispensationalists have been sitting in the stands on history's 50-yard line, (laughter) looking at the field below, watching the teams enter the stadium, begin to take up positions and then predicting what was going to happen next.  Their job was to explain the game before the game started -- and certainly before it ended.

But after the founding of the State of Israel -- and especially after the Six-Day War, more and more of these pre-millennialists believed that it was time to get out of the stands and get down on the field where they could arrange the teams in ways that fit their scenario.  So they became activists, not just observers and explainers.

Much of this new approach came about at the urging of the Israelis in the late '70s, early '80s.  Israel recognized that it was quickly losing the liberal Protestant support that it had had before the Six-Day War.  And when they did not withdraw from occupied territory, mainline Protestantism began to be highly critical of the Jewish state.  And they discovered instead, the fundamentalist, evangelical, pre-millennialists world that they didn't know much about before; and they began to court in major ways.  And the pre-millennialists loved it, and they responded.

Sometimes even prime ministers of Israel would help evangelical prophesy-types arrange tours of Israel to bring their constituencies there.  And from that time to this, Tel Aviv Airport is just flooded with evangelical tour groups to walk where Jesus walked, and to get the Israeli spin on the Middle East crisis.  And this has been a very important part of this marriage that has taken place.

So what we have, since the early '80s, is a -- is a tendency among some of these prophesy believers to organize in very overtly political ways, to influence American foreign policy.  And they've done so by creating essentially political action groups with names like "Christian Friends of Israel," "Bridges for Peace," "International Fellowship of Christians and Jews" -- which is run by a rabbi but which is supported overwhelmingly by evangelicals, or the "International Embassy -- International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem," we could go and on.

Most recently, the one that has received a lot of recent public attention is "Christians United for Israel," which is headed by John Hagee, who has a big church in San Antonio.  They have -- this last summer they had a huge rally in Washington -- 4,500 people came.  They trained them to disperse on Capitol Hill and lobby their various members of Congress and Senators on Israel with talking points.

I'm on the mailing list and I got my "E-mail Alert" this last week to e-mail the White House about the Annapolis Conference; to urge the White House to "Cut it out," and not to pressure Israel anymore to give up land for peace.  There's just all this kind of very sophisticated political involvement among that kind of group.

Now other evangelicals don't see it this way -- never have, never will.  They don't read the bible, prophetically, in the same way but they still are very pro-Israel.  In August a group of 34, I think -- evangelical leaders, presidents of seminaries, denominational leaders, apparent church leaders of various kinds, wrote a letter to the president urging him to recognize two things:  Number one, not all evangelicals are in the prophetic camp; and secondly, not all -- a very large number of evangelicals are for a Two-state solution in the Middle East.  And they sent that off.

John Hagee responded and said, "Evangelicals will laugh to scorn, this letter.  Well, what happened in Annapolis -- all those e-mails, all that lobbying did not stop Annapolis from happening, but that letter was right, it was calling on the president to do what he did in Annapolis.  So that raises all kinds of interesting questions about who's got the political connections and the political power in the evangelical community, under this president, to influence American foreign policy.

BRONSON:  Eliza, picking up on some of this, we were talking a little bit before about Israel and Palestine, in light of your work.  I wonder if you had some thoughts in terms of dispensational views, or maybe even talking about a little bit social justice and where that plays into all this conversation about where the evangelical community is going.

GRISWOLD:  Sure.  Well, definitely the prophetic tradition is alive and well outside of Israel and Palestine.  I mean, a couple of months ago I was in the "middle belt" of Nigeria which -- and, again, generalizations are dangerous here, but the mostly-Muslim north of Nigeria meets a predominantly-Christian south in an area called Middle Belt, which unsurprisingly, is 10 degrees north of the equator.  And again, it's the southern edge of arid land.  So basically, that's as far as Islam got during the 19th century before tsetse flies caused camels and horses to die of sleeping sickness.  So that's where Islam stopped.

And now, I think really important to our discussion today, is to remember that this explosive growth of effervescent Christianity in Africa and Latin American and Asia -- but especially along that sub Saharan region -- is one of the things driving our foreign policy, because we're seeing a new form of belief and really listening to people who have a form faith that does not necessarily come from us.

But anyway, back to social justice issues.  Well, in the middle belt, for example, there's a specific field that lies between a small Islamic emirate and a Christian village.  Maybe -- certainly over 1,000 people have died in the past several years fighting over this one field.  Now, religion is one of a thousand factors in that life.  You have land.  You have desertification, the influence of climate change and grazing patterns -- all of these play into issues of social justice throughout the developing world.  And then religion comes to color conflicts in an extremely convenient way for those who want to propagate conflict.

Am I answering your question enough?

BRONSON:  You are.  I mean, what I was fishing for a little bit.  And Paul, you can wrap us up too before we go to the Q&A.  But you know, in sort of my recent conversations, there's been this overwhelmingly pro-Israel sentiment.  This notion, though, of social justice has been very important to evangelicals and that is leading some to begin to take a more pro-Palestinian view in terms of their views of social justice and what's just.

So in that context -- and I probably should have set it up a little bit better -- I know that you've been running into sort of conflicts and questions around social justice --

GRISWOLD:  Oh, absolutely.

BRONSON:  -- elsewhere around the world.  But I'd like to come back to it, because, Paul, I want you to kind of jump in on this too.

MARSHALL:  Yeah.  A couple of things here:  You've always got to be careful with polling data.  We see amongst evangelicals a strong pro-Israel sentiment.  Amongst most, the major thing that boils down to is you want Israel to be protected.  It survives.  It exists.  If that is established, then you could do other things.  And I've seen some polling data which says -- actually, support for a Palestinian state is higher amongst evangelicals than it is amongst the general population.  The opposition isn't to a Palestinian state.  The basic thing is the preservation of Israel.  If that is secured, then one, you know -- you want the Palestinians to be happy and prosperous and as wealthy as possible.

And again, the concern about a lot of the Muslim world is, again, it's repressive.  If they haven't got oil, it tends to be very poor.  So that's there.  But with Israel and the Palestinians it's submerged to the basic conflict.  In other areas there's a lot of relief work going on.  That's true in Iraq.  Some of the major relief NGOs, even in Egypt, are indigenous Christian ones.  So that goes on, but the religious freedom-religious persecution issue in a lot of the area, then the Israel and the Palestinian issue overshadows that.

To add something else:  We've been talking -- when we've been talking about evangelicals, we've been talking more of say movement evangelicals or sociological terms, public opinion.  I'd just like to add, as you mentioned before, if you took that -- you know, if you raised -- what about evangelicals in Annapolis?  I said, well, I saw this evangelical standing in the middle of the Israelis and the Palestinians.  His name's George Bush.  A chief organizer of that was another one named Condi Rice.  I was surprised when we talked about Africa we didn't talk about Mike Guss (sp) and his role in that.  Or going back further from Middle Eastern politics take another one -- James Baker.  There are many evangelical figures who've been involved in foreign policy circles who are not identified as evangelicals -- that's not their public persona or whatever -- but nevertheless are.

Amongst elite evangelicals is a very strong realist streak, I think you'll find.  And let me throw out one other name which hasn't come up, who's very influential:  Doug Coe of the Fellowship.  Somebody mentioned before that evangelicals were -- I think it was Rich -- not very big on dialogue or at least structured dialogue, often very big on reconciliation.  There's quite a few organizations, lots of Catholic ones as well, who work on that.  A new group in Washington called the Fellowship -- that's very much one of their themes.  And they're quite influential in terms of foreign policy -- not so much on the hard edge, but bringing people together.  They've done this with Sudan.  And I think in discussions about Israel and the Palestinians they've done a lot of informal diplomacy -- what's the expression -- the two-track or third track.  There's a lot of that going on.  Someone like Doug Coe, I think, would have been very influential in bringing these parties together. So there's this subterranean element going on too.  Again, that's not mass opinion.  But if you're dealing with office holders, there's a lot of influence which we haven't really touched on much.

BRONSON:  Let me open up to the audience -- you've got a whole bunch of very broad themes here -- and just look for your engagement after a nice lunch.

Right there -- Jeff.  You can stand and introduce yourself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you, Rachel.  Jeff Laurenti at the Century Foundation.

While Israeli authorities are far more hospitable to Christian minorities within Israel than a lot of Christians in Arab -- suffocatingly Muslim societies nearby are -- still, Palestinian Christians have been active in the Palestinian cause almost from the beginning.  Is it that evangelicals don't see these Christian surviving communities that have lasted 14 centuries under Muslim domination -- Israeli Christian, because they're Catholic or Orthodox or whatever?  Because one has the sense that there is not much bonding among at least nominally co-shared Christian communities.  And you know, they certainly don't have, it would seem, an interest in the holy places the way the Catholic and Orthodox churches have been battling over each other for the Holy Church of the Holy Sepulcher and such.  What is the view among evangelicals of those Christian communities inside historic Palestine and the broader Middle East?

WEBER:  Let me say that this is one of the most surprising things to me in my own research was how evangelical Christians in America with this prophetic slant could so totally miss these Christian communities in the Middle East -- especially the Arab ones.  I think it's safe to say that Palestinian Christians simply do not make it on the dispensationalist radar screen.  They're just not there.  And some people who have taken these kind of prophetic -- prophetically informed tours of Israel will say that when they have asked about, can we meet with some Christians here in Israel?  They've been told there aren't any.  Well, there are -- although most of them have moved to Detroit in recent years.  I mean, the percentage of the Christian community among the Arab population -- the Palestinian population has greatly been reduced in the last couple of decades, because they find themselves caught in between Israel and the Muslim community and they're getting it from both sides.

But I think it's true that evangelicals from this prophetic point of view just don't see that community as playing a role in end-time events.  And if you don't play a role, then you don't show up.

MARSHALL:  If I could add on that:  not just the prophet camp, but American evangelicals have generally have not been aware of Middle East Christians.  In that, they're probably typical of Americans.  That's why I said, even we fall into calling these places Arab countries.  Well, there are Kurds.  There are all sorts of other people.  We call them Muslim countries.  There are all sorts of non-Muslims.

They hadn't been aware of that.  When people had been aware of it -- when earlier missionaries -- Presbyterians, say, founded the American University of Beirut, American University of Cairo, and so on -- with the exception of the Anglican, the Episcopalian -- they often didn't relate.

With evangelicals, the emphasis is very much on a living committed faith.  You've got to live that out.  You go to these places and these people just seem like everybody else.  They may show up in church on Sunday, but it doesn't do anything.  So they're just nominal Christians.  They're -- you know, they don't -- they're not really committed.  They're not real believers.  So ignore it or object to evangelism.  I think that's changing and it's changing quite rapidly as people start to become aware of the historic communities there.  But in general, evangelicals haven't been aware of them and when they had been, dismissed them.

Let me just put in a sort of additional ad on top of that because mentioning the universities there.  The disappearance of the Christian communities from the Middle East is, I think, an important foreign policy issue for reasons -- I mean, it's not just a concern of Christians.  You could say, "Well, it's sad that they're going, but does that really affect world dynamics?"  I think it does.  One has been disproportionately, the Christian communities have related to the West.  If you look in the Arab world, say, in terms of the growth of literature, education, many other things -- it's been disproportionately the minorities.  They have related to the West and that continues.  They've imported other ideas -- ideas of democracy, liberalism and so on have generally come through Christians.  Also other ones -- Ba'athism was chief -- early ideologue of -- Ba'athism was at first -- you know, Greek Orthodox -- Michel Aflaq.  So they brought in bad ideas, but very much a gateway that it goes -- you know, if they disappear, that creates that problem.

And secondly, they maintain that society is plural.  If you want religious freedom and I -- religious freedom is a gateway to many other freedoms, that's harder -- it's easier to argue for if there's more religious diversity.  It doesn't mean you can't without it, but it's tougher.  So if the size is approaching 99.9 percent of Muslim, these questions start to recede and you miss other forms of pluralism there.  So I think it will in fact affect the dynamics of the region as such.  So it's an important issue for all of us.

BRONSON:  Let me jump in.  Eliza, do you want to pick up or do you want to back to the audience?

GRISWOLD:  Yeah.

I want to say that I think that the flight of minority Christians is extremely important to evangelicals because it plays into their perception of persecution.  Here we're being forced out.  We will not be forced out.  We will stand our ground and then leads to especially vis-a-vis Islam a greater binary division that then feeds into this idea of light versus darkness, salvation versus damnation and a very deep line in the sand that can be problematic for local communities and for our foreign policy.  So I think that's an important point today.

BRONSON:  That's very helpful. let me come right here, and then I'll head over there.

Please stand and introduce yourself.

QUESTIONER:  Thanks, Rachel.

My name is Pernan Qupei (zp).

You talked about Christianity in the Middle East, and obviously this is Christianity among Arabs.  But there's another Christianity, of course, which is that of expatriates and if you look at countries of the Gulf, for example, the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries -- nearly 80 (percent) to 85 percent of their populations are not indigenous.

WEBER:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTIONER:  They are expatriate.  And an overwhelming majority of those populations -- the expatriate ones, that is -- are indeed Christian or they are Hindu or they are non-Muslim.

Now this ties in with the question of freedom to worship -- freedom of worship.  And my question really is that how much to evangelicals take into account in their proselytizing or in their outreach to the Middle East the whole question of being able to worship or the worship in a church?  In Saudi Arabia, for example, that's banned.  In most -- or if not most, many Muslim countries, that kind of non-Muslim or non-Islamic worship is banned.  In the UAE, for example, it's far more liberal.  What sort of talk is going on right now and where do you see any new approaches toward this issue, if any?

Thanks.

WEBER:  Okay.

The point is very good with the expatriate population.  We notice in Saudi Arabia.  But as you mention, the smaller Gulf countries are majority expats.  And the question of freedom of religion -- even just freedom of worship, which is obviously only one part of freedom of religion, becomes important.  And we're always emphasizing -- when you mention this to people over here, they always think you're talking about the American oil executives.  I said, "No, they're from India.  They're from -- you know, they're from Egypt."  You know, Egypt -- a lot of Egyptian Christian workers in the Gulf.  But, you know, the Philippines especially with Bangladesh, India, elsewhere, the usually very poor people have no idea what's in their contract when they go over there to work.  So their situation is very important.

In terms of freedom of worship -- I mean, this is getting raised with the Saudi's a lot -- it's an important issue for evangelicals.  Evangelicals -- and I'm encouraging as many as possible to push our government to, you know, keep leaning on the Saudis on this issue.  With the other Gulf countries, there is more room to negotiate.  Kuwait has a variety of churches.  It has very traditional Christian families, so there are not just expats but Christian Kuwaitis.  Qatar has allowed the construction -- recently the construction of -- a Catholic church and donated the land to do that, and the government's also donating land for construction of other churches.  So with Bahrain, with Quatar, you're seeing some movement more in Kuwait.  With the Emirates, I'd have to know more.  But I -- in these settings, I think partially because economically they're growing, they're the wealthier -- they're feeling more relaxed.  I think good diplomacy is starting to open doors there.

With the Saudis, who are much more ideologically dug in on this and trying to portray themselves as the Vatican of Islam, which is very un-Islamic, the -- it's much tougher.

BRONSON:  Let me just --

WEBER:  Oh.

But -- again, though -- but to just to emphasize, the majority of the people -- not in the Gulf states, but in the country at large -- the majority of people we're talking about are not expats, they're not missionaries.  They're 2,000-year-old communities.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  I'm Jim Wallace from Boston University.

We have alluded to earlier in our conversation today about how evangelicals have had their differences in the past historically with both the Catholic community, the Jewish community -- but how bridges have been built over different issues -- the Catholic community particularly over social issues, the Jewish community primarily over Israel.  My question is this.  Do you see any hope for building bridges between evangelicals -- particularly neo-evangelicals versus the more fundamentalist variety and the Islamic revivalist versus the Islamic fundamentalist?  Where, how, on what issues could bridges be built between evangelicals and the Islamic revivalists with whom they share both values and some theological perspectives on the world?

BRONSON:  Eliza.

GRISWOLD:  Oh, I know -- that's a great question.

Here in this country around some of those moral issues about, you know, sex education and abstinence, there has been some movement between, let's say, conservative Christians and conservative Muslims to find some common ground on -- really, an education policy would be the primary place.  I think that can be dangerous because, for example, if you look at faith-based foreign policy, which sometimes -- I went with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, who has a $500 million-a-year evangelical empire, to meet with President Bashir, the president of Sudan, for the first time in 2003.  And this is a man he has called just as evil as Saddam Hussein, even more so.  And this meeting was possible because, ostensibly, you're dealing with two leaders who place their faith before anything else.  In truth, that meeting ended up not being, although Franklin was able to ask about his right to evangelize and makes some strides toward that, what happened was these two people were coming from a point of view.  Both said, "I'd like to convert you; no, I'd like to convert you."

And the ability of the deep moral respect wasn't really present, because -- (laughter) -- and I think there really can't be deep understanding without some notions of absolute salvation.  "I am going to heaven and you are not, my friend."  Those can be extremely problematic in working out real-life issues.  So I think there has to be a deeper sense of pluralism before approaching some of those other social issues.

MARSHALL:  But you can also have -- I was about to add, "Well, I want to convert you."  "I want to convert you."  He says, "Good, then we're in agreement."  (Laughter.)

GRISWOLD:  Well, and that is --

MARSHALL:  But that's serious.

GRISWOLD:  And that's religious freedom, of course.

MARSHALL:  Yeah.  But it also means you know where the other person is coming from; then you can deal with that.  I'm always amused by people who say, "Well, obviously, get rid of all the conversion (thing ?) and then we'll have agreement."  He says, "No, they're much more in agreement already than they are with you.  You're the odd person out here."

So I think there is this foundation.  I was also in Nigeria finding out that quite a few of the Muslim schools in the north use curriculum, (sex ?) education, which they adapted with the help of the Southern Baptists, from the Southern Baptist curriculum being used in the Christian schools in Nigeria.

So you start to see this overlap in cooperation.  But, you know, the fact that you have two groups of people who take their religion seriously -- you know, that's why often evangelicals get along much better with Orthodox Jews than with Reform Jews, because you take your beliefs seriously, and so you can understand someone else.

I was talking to -- I shouldn't take too many anecdotes, but I was talking to one Muslim in Texas.  He says, "It's much easier being a Muslim in Texas.  People here take their religion seriously and they take mine."  He says, "I can close my store five times a day here to pray and people understand that."  He says, "You try and do that in France, you're a nut case."  Or you wear a head cover. Oh, people understand that.  Amish wear head covers.  All the Mennonites wear head covers.  Nuns wear head covers.  People -- it's assumed that people are religious, so you're open about that.

So I don't want to exaggerate it.  The opposition is there, but there is room for cooperation.  And there's been a lot of sort of faith-based diplomacy amongst more radical Muslims and conservative Christians.

GRISWOLD:  And just a note to that, that Franklin Graham has an ongoing relationship with Bashir that has been helpful in other ways.  But one other note is that I don't think you have to be conservative to take your religion seriously.

MARSHALL:  Yeah.

BRONSON:  Let me come over to Tim here on this.

WEBER:  Yeah, just a brief comment.  There is a Muslim-evangelical dialogue beginning here in America.  Back in July, a meeting was held, put together by Benny Hinn.  Do you know who Benny Hinn is?  He's on TV, healing things, lots of things.  But anyway, Benny Hinn got together this group of Muslim -- or ambassadors from Arab countries in the Middle East and a bunch of evangelical leaders with things like Falwell and Robertson.

Before you get too excited, these were the sons of Falwell and Robertson.  This is a generational shift -- a different style, a different openness to talking with different kinds of people.  And Rick Cizik was there for that.  And I think there's some more scheduled.  Right, Rick?  Do you want to say just a word?

RICHARD CIZIK:  I'm not sure what's going to happen.  It was pretty interesting, though.  Benny Hinn went around the room and introduced both sides.  I think that the evangelicals, like Ron Godwin, who had been one of the founders with Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and the Moral Majority, he was interested in an academic kind of contact.

I think Jonathan Falwell was speaking for religious freedom.  That's what he was saying.  Don Argue was there.  He's from the NAE.  He's on the International Religious Freedom Commission, recently sworn in by Hillary Clinton; Don generally for increasing relationships and diplomacy.  Everyone had a little bit different agenda.

I think the Muslim ambassadors were primarily interested in sounding them out; like you say, second-generation leaders to see if they were at all willing to move on the question of Israel.  And the evangelicals present, they weren't willing to say they were.  They weren't willing to acknowledge that there's any room here for dialogue.

But sitting at the end of the table, I at one point said, "I think, knowing some on both sides" -- because we've been doing this since 2003, the same kind of thing, but not quite so high-profile.  (There has ?), as somebody said, (been ?) fellowship for years.  But I think there was a sounding out to see if there's any flexibility in the policies that evangelicals have been holding so dear to them on these issues, especially those within that community.  And so whether it takes flight and becomes anything more than what it was once, I'm not sure.

But the question I would have is, can we improve relations with the Muslim leaders around the world -- that is, the evangelicals -- can the evangelicals, without a change in our foreign policy views?

BRONSON:  So let me just get this straight.  You're asking the panelists -- (laughs) -- whether --

CIZIK:  In their mind, yeah.

BRONSON:  Yeah -- I mean, whether evangelicals -- because you have an important answer to that, I would think.  But I'm going to come back to the panel since you threw it to them.

WEBER:  Well, I think, from the prophecy-based evangelical community, there's not going to be any perceptive change on some of these issues.  They believe the Bible is clear on what's going to happen and what their responsibilities are for the future; that is, stick with Israel no matter what, because history is under the control of a sovereign God who spelled out the details.  And therefore, if you go against those details, if you back the wrong horse in these kinds of political debates, you not only are opposed to God, but you incur the judgment of God on yourself.

And there's a real interesting part of this prophecy community that is constantly warning about the practical consequences of going for a two-state solution.  They said, "You know what happened the last time America pushed hard for a two-state solution?  God sent us Katrina and Rita.  And just wait what's going to happen after Annapolis."  So there's that kind of fear.  So, you know, people with that mentality are not going to sit down at a table and say, "Let's talk about the West Bank."  They're just not going to do it.

But this other evangelical group made up their minds a long time ago that one of the best ways of being pro-Israel is to help Israel survive in its community, and that is by making peace.  So they write the letters and they support the president in his attempt to bring about a Palestinian state.  So, again, there's not one evangelical answer to that question.

BRONSON:  Walter, let me turn to you.  I know that you have a -- (inaudible).  Wait for the mike.  Introduce yourself.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  I'm Walter Mead here at the Council.

Maybe this is for Eliza primarily, but the others would probably have something to add to it too.  I was in Nairobi last summer, and the big best-selling book on display at the Anglican cathedral in Nairobi was John Hagee's book on Israel.  And I'm wondering, you know, has, through this rapid Christianization of other parts of the global south, are you getting an export also of some of these prophecy views and other sort of emotional support for Israel?  And how much has this been playing into relations between Christian and Muslim communities in those parts of the world?

GRISWOLD:  I think primarily what you're seeing is Palestine is a huge issue for every Islamic community from, you know, Detroit to rural Nigeria.  So the issue of Palestine obviously has those kind of legs.

In terms of biblical prophesy tradition yes, very much so in areas of conflict because -- I mean, I'm thinking specifically about a church that was burned down in 2004 by a group in -- a group of Muslims who surrounded the church and shouted and burnt the church down and killed every Christian coming out.

Now, what isn't told in that story -- and then the Christians who live in that community -- and most had to leave afterwards and they're now coming back -- believe that that is the destruction of the temple foreordained -- that they have now entered end times quite viscerally, and Voice of the Martyrs sent them $18,000 to rebuild their church.  So that has become even a more pronounced fault line along -- so yes, that's definitely happening, not -- I haven't seen -- you know, in Nigeria and Sudan and Indonesia and Malaysia, the Horn of Africa and the Philippines -- I haven't seen a lot of awareness of -- about Israel per se among new Christians but I have seen Palestine for sure and biblical prophesy of end times in other ways.

MEAD:  Where was the church burned down?  Where did that happen?

GRISWOLD:  This church was burned down in the town of Yelwa.

MEAD:  In Nigeria?

GRISWOLD:  Yeah, and just to make sure that I told the full context of that, there were a series of -- right after that -- about two months after a group of Christians surrounded the town and massacred 900 Muslims who lived there so -- and these two communities are now coming back and this began very viscerally in a field.  So it's infinitely -- and about land and politics and of course power.  So -- no, but definitely.

WEBER:  Yeah.  The -- there is some export but comparatively little.  There's a few reasons.  One is I think -- I seem to remember about a lot of evangelicalism and especially dispensational kind, it's very Anglo American.  It was often tied up with a sort of British identity so that's the -- another feature when we're talking -- evangelicalism is so very American.  People -- what are the distinctions of evangelicalism?  Well, the distinctions of Americans -- it's individualism, it's activism, it's moralism -- all of those kinds of things.  So -- and then partially contradicting myself you go to evangelical -- you know, talk to British evangelicals.  Talk to Canadian evangelicals, then Nigerian, Ugandan, Singaporean.  Very different things going on.  That's one dynamic.

Secondly, particularly in Africa, most of the evangelicals will be Anglican, often Presbyterian, Methodist, and so on, you could probably say Catholic too.  The mainline churches are evangelical churches in most of Africa, and so in some ways have stronger theological traditions than many of the more free church evangelicals in the United States and so are less inclined to look at these prophetic strands.  If they go to theological education it's very often to England, no -- often are extremely well educated.  So I don't expect -- I expect a pro-Israel stance for -- because Israel is the people of the Bible -- it's that sort of second level of attachment -- but I don't expect developed prophetic scenarios to be that influential.

MARSHALL:  Just a quick word about how American prophetic tradition ends up in Israel.  This interesting marriage between the Israeli government, especially the Likud government and American pre-millennialists, one of the offshoots of that is that American pre-millennialists are often in cahoots with the so-called temple movement in Israel that sees the rebuilding of the Third Temple on Temple Mount as crucial to Israel's identity and survival, and they do it from a Jewish perspective and so on but that fits so well with the expectations of American pre-millennialists who believe that there will be a Third Temple constructed which the Antichrist must enter and declare himself to be God.

So the coming of the Third Temple is right smack dab in the middle of expectations.  So you can see why American pre-millennialists would really like to cozy up with the temple movement and have done so.  There's something called the Temple Institute in Jerusalem where certain Israelis have begun to do research and to reconstruct and refashion temple utensils for the sacrifice of animals when the temple is built, and to train rabbis -- not rabbis, but priests to do animal sacrifice just like in the good old days.  But American pre-millennial tour groups show up in their busses to such places.  Then, of course -- I don't know if I have the time to do this -- but the red heifer interest -- you know, the -- yeah, the red heifer.  Well, not yet but just wait.  American cattle raisers who know bull semen better than anybody else are in the business of helping or trying to help produce the red heifer which is required for sacrifice so the Third Temple can be built and purified.  And when that happens, put on your crash helmet.

BRONSON:  Let me come right here.

QUESTIONER:  Vinay Samuel, Oxford Center for Mission Studies and Oxford Religion in Public Life.  The -- I just want to highlight the -- and ask a question to the panel.  The increasing confidence of evangelicals in the 1040 window and then on Western world -- where they're able to share their faith with confidence and say we are here to convert doesn't actually prevent them from looking at possibilities of cooperation on social issues as well.  Now I think we don't say until someone falls and if they're converted we're not going to work with you.  I don't think it's as rigid as that.  It might be in this country but I don't think it's as rigid as that elsewhere.

My question to the panel is that -- well, I have two but one particular question is that with this increasing confidence they're having their own positions -- public policy positions -- own political positions and because of the international connectivity of evangelicals, and I think evangelicals are noted now by this international connectivity, and the interesting thing about American and having been an evangelical involved for the last 45 years from this I've seen a change.  The younger evangelicals, like the Wyram (ph), younger evangelicals who are these 80 (percent) 90 percent of the people who are all over the world in different parts of the world, they are younger people.  They don't come with this degree of manifest destiny of America and exceptionalism of America.  It's hardly there.  In fact, it's -- even if it's there it's hidden very cleverly.  But they are there to hear and learn.  Now --

BRONSON:  Let me just ask you to get to your question --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER:  -- now, my question is where is that playing back into evangelicalism here?  Is that influencing evangelical -- U.S. evangelical thinking at all or is it simply evangelical foreign policy is driven by its  own particular concerns?  That's my question.

BRONSON:  I'm going to do something unfair because we're going to run out of time.  There was a question right over there.  Let me just make sure that I get this side of the room to add -- take the last two questions.  And I'm going to ask each of the panelists to take the two questions and respond with your views also for some last comments before we close.  Right here.

QUESTIONER:  Mark Berder (sp).  Several journalists and others have been writing recently about the upsurge of faith groups in China, particularly in the southwest of China, and there's a movement I understand -- a kind of pre-millennial-driven, theologically-driven movement among converted Chinese that they see as their destiny to convert Muslims in southwest China in a movement towards -- an evangelistic movement towards Jerusalem and towards the Holy Land.  In other words, it's a kind of a Chinese analog to a pre-millennial movement.  And my understanding is this is creating some serious heartburn both for the Chinese government and also with the Muslim communities in the southwestern part of China.  Can any of you speak to that issue?

MARSHALL:  I've heard of it.  I don't know much about it but within the Christian or Chinese Christian community, there is an amazing residue of this kind of prophetic thinking which takes different forms that is a holdover from the old era of Protestant missions -- you know, how the Protestant missionaries were expelled after the rise of -- after the Communist takeover.  But they left behind all kinds of interesting things and part of that is this kind of prophetic perspective which has become kind of Chinese and has morphed into different things.  And this is one example of that, but that's about all I can say.

BRONSON:  Do you want to add also -- any last points?  I just wanted to make sure.

MARSHALL:  Just in terms of Vinay's comment, let me just make an add with Walter's comments about, you know, do pre-millennial ideas play amongst African and other Christians?  Vinay, we won't have time to do it.  I think you'd be the best person to answer that question.

In terms of influence back in American evangelicalism from overseas, that's increasing.  It's been mentioned before.  Large numbers of American evangelicals go on short-term mission trips or travel elsewhere.  That's happening.  In that sense it's very cosmopolitan.  So people are aware -- not just Christians in other countries.  You've been in another country, you're aware of the society and so on.  Then in international gatherings you're getting -- you've organized quite a few of these -- of having, you know, Americans, Europeans, listening to evangelicals from other places.  So I see a major change in internationalization there.  I think the World Evangelical Fellowship is playing a role in that.  So yeah, I think there is something happening there.

In terms of China, probably the best person on that theme -- the Back to Jerusalem movement in China -- is probably David Ackman (sp).  He's written about this.  I'm not sure people are aware of that.  Statistics are -- good statistics are hard to come by, but the Christian church has been growing rapidly in China on a par with the growth in African and it could be upwards of 100 million now.  So it's possible you may then see the Korean-ization of China -- at least parallels here.

The Back to Jerusalem movement is saying, well, the Muslim world sort of sees its enemy as the West and so on.  What's it going to do with a few million Chinese missionaries if we start sending them?  So that movement is there.  I don't think it's a mainstream movement, even in the unregistered churches in China, but it's there.  Just to add one wrinkle:  That also ties back to the fact that the earliest Christian missionaries in China were, of course, from the Middle East.  They were Nestorian missionaries coming out of Iran.  And they established the first Christian monasteries in China in the 6th and 7th century.  China being very, historically, a war society, very much wanted to pick up on that and it sort of -- let's go back along the Silk Road.  So it's a very interesting phenomenon.

BRONSON:  Eliza?

GRISWOLD:  I think a couple of things.  I think, first of all, in terms of Western evangelical missionaries in the developing world -- in the 10/40 window, for example -- overwhelming, what I would say I've seen them learn and experience is humility.  It's overwhelm at the world in which they are and a great sense of duty to bring back what they've learned and then that being a huge impetus of social justice here in this country.

We also -- we haven't touched on it today, but the phenomenon of reverse missions, that especially in Nigeria there are -- the statistics are huge.  There are thousands of missionaries coming to America every year from Latin America and from Africa, in particular Nigeria, to bring us our faith back.  That's an explicit drive now.  And finally, I'd say, you know, faith grows in opposition.  You know, some of my favorite demographers will say, well, if you really want to grow a faith, show us some form of opposition, because that really creates an explosive growth movement.  And I think that's what we see in China.  And also, again, in indigenous communities in Africa and Asia this isn't a phenomenon of Westerners going somewhere and creating a problem.  This is people choosing faith traditions and that coming to bear on a host of local issues.

BRONSON:  Let me take the opportunity of being the closing panel here to thank a whole bunch of people.

First of all, I thank Walter, Tim and the Council on Foreign Relations for really providing this forum for us to have a fantastic conversation.  And the Luce Foundation who really is making this happen here in New York and really throughout the country; to the panelists for this morning -- this morning's two sessions; and to my panelists here for really wrapping it up, bringing it up to the contemporary period and leaving us all with a lot to think about.

So thank you to all.  (Applause.)

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Council on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC

 

NANCY ROMAN: Good evening. I think we will get started right on time, as is our custom.

I’m Nancy Roman, vice president and director of the Washington Program. And I have been looking forward to tonight’s meeting for some time.

This is our opening session of our new series, which is on the nexus of religion and foreign policy. And in reviewing the council’s work over time, we realized we’ve really done a great job and spent a lot of resources on national security, on development, on various regional interests, but we haven’t paid as much attention to religion and the role that it plays both in influencing other countries’ policies towards us and our policy toward other countries.

Sometimes it’s a more difficult conversation than it should be to get into, but this is something that we have decided to pursue with, frankly, broad support from you all. It’s gotten very good feedback.

And we’re extreme excited to have both Dr. Land and Luis Lugo.

We at the council brought Dr. Land up for a conversation with senior advisers on Capitol Hill a few months ago, and it was really a riveting discussion. And I decided then it was one that you all deserved to hear.

Some of you may know Luis. He directs the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. You have his bio. But from my perspective, most significantly, he is a brand new member of the council.

So we welcome both of you, and we look forward to the conversation.

LUIS LUGO: Thank you, Nancy.

What you didn’t tell me in this process of joining the council was that this was a working organization. No sooner do I join that Richard Haass hauls me up to New York for some sort of advising, and you sort of volunteer me for this event. (Laughter.)

Actually, I’m delighted to do it. It’s that immigrant work ethic. You can’t stop us; it’s just that simple.

It is my deep pleasure to be moderating this event this evening. I had the delight, actually, to be with Richard Land last year up in Canada on a panel session on religion in American politics. This is the Canadian equivalent of our Chautauqua, the Couchiching Institute. And there were many memorable aspects of that session, which was very lively and very informative. But I will never forget the moderator for that—and I’m not going to be like this, just to forewarn you—but he was intent on insulting the panelists in the introductions. (Laughter.)

For Richard, for instance, he said Richard Land is a Southern Baptist, and in utter bewilderment and very publicly expressed, he said, you know, which I can’t quite understand because he’s a Princeton grad, magna cum laude no less, and then went to Oxford for his doctor of philosophy. He said, now, I can understand him being a Southern Baptist before he went; I can’t understand being a Southern Baptist him coming out. So I thought that was rather bracing to hear that kind of introduction.

I was third, so I was really getting prepared. And actually he was an equal opportunity offender, because Richard’s counterpart on the panel is a professor at Wake Forest University, wherever that might be, he said. You know, it was like, you know—it was just really strange.

Fortunately he gave me a pass in my introduction, very straightforward, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. And I stood up and thanked him for the very kind introduction, and for being the only panelist he didn’t insult. Which was really quite—I’m sure you remember that very well, Richard.

RICHARD LAND: I do.

LUGO : Yes. (Laughter.)

Well, Richard is still a Southern Baptist. In fact, he is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, where he has served since 1988. As such, he represents Southern Baptists before the Congress, the president and major media.

Since 2001, he’s also been a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, first appointed by President Bush and then reappointed by Senator Frist.

He wouldn’t be a major evangelical leader if he didn’t have his own radio show. And in fact, he’s got not one, not two, but three radio shows, with his latest one being a three-hour call-in weekend program—which I haven’t tuned in to yet, Richard, but I hope to do that soon.

He is also the executive editor of a national magazine, Faith and Family Values. It is I think with great justification that Time magazine earlier this year named him among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

How Richard can do all this and keep a busy travel schedule may partly be explained by the fact that his wife, Dr. Rebecca Land, is a psychotherapist in private practice. You may be her only client for all I know, Richard. (Laughter.)

In any case, we’re delighted to have you.

There are some ground rules, as you know, for these events, but this one’s a little different. I always enjoy when I co-host these things with Walter Mead of the New York branch to talk about Chatham House rules and all that, but there are no such rules in this one. This meeting is actually on the record, so we don’t need to be pins and needles on that one.

We do ask, however, that you turn off your cell phones, please, and keep them off until this event concludes. And we will promptly end at 7:30, which doesn’t often happen in Washington. I say it’s one of the big contributions that we Hispanics are going to make to American society is going to start and end every meeting on time. So we’re certainly going to keep to that one, Nancy.

Richard, it’s great to have you at the Council on Foreign Relations.

LAND: Thank you.

I’ve been asked to make a few opening remarks, and then they want to leave—Luis wants to ask me some questions he’s really confident—(inaudible)—let you ask questions.

Let me start off—I think it’s probably helpful in any setting outside of an evangelical one to explain what an evangelical is. I think this is brought home by the fact that Time magazine, when it named the 25 most influential evangelicals, had several Roman Catholics, which was the first I knew you could be a Roman Catholic and be an evangelical. Which, you know, it’s—and then I had several media people, national media people, call and they say, well, now, just explain to us what is—what are these evangelists, and of course, not understanding evangelists and evangelicals.

Evangelical is derived from a Greek noun meaning—which is (Greek phrase), which means the gospel of the good news. As a church historian, I can tell you that the word is first used that we know of among Catholic writers in the early 16th century who were trying to revert to beliefs and practices which they believed were more biblical than those currently in vogue the late medieval Roman Catholic Church.

Then at the Reformation, the name evangelical was given to Lutherans who focused on the doctrine of justification by faith alone through faith in Christ, and who sought to renew the church according to what they found in scripture.

More recently, the revivals that happened on both sides of the Atlantic, in Britain and in the United States, in the 1730s and 1740s, with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield and the Wesleys, which highlighted the authority of scripture, the work of Christ and salvation, and the emphasis on a new birth as a new birth experience in religion, with a large dose of sort of revivalism and pietism thrown in. And they were deeply influenced—more I suspect they knew at the time—by John Locke and by the enlightenment.

Then in the 20th century men like Charles Hodge and Carl F.H. Henry emphasized the intellectual principles that were derived from scripture, as opposed to just scripture narratives themselves.

Today’s evangelicals, the evangelicals of which I am one and of which we’ve heard a lot about, emerged in the 20th century about the early 1940s as a conscious reaction against fundamentalism, a movement which had begun in the second decade of the 20th century with a series of pamphlets which were making fairly reasoned arguments against emerging Protestant liberalism, but then ossified into a reactionary oppositionalism. One scholar described the fundamentalism that resulted as too otherworldly, anti-intellectual, legalistic, moralistic, and anti-ecumenical.

And so the first use that we can find of the word evangelical in the 20th century as a meaningful term was in 1942 with the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals. These new evangelicals, lead by E.J. Carnell, Harold Ockingay, Carl Henry and Billy Graham, were committed to engaging with the culture in an attempt to transform it through the gospel, and really took to heart sort of Neibuhr’s Christ-transforming culture as opposed to the fundamentalists’ Christ against culture.

And although Karl Barth, the great 20th century Protestant theologian, is not an evangelical in an American or British sense of that term, his definition I think is very apt. He defines evangelical as, evangelical means informed by the gospel of Jesus Christ as heard afresh in the 16th century Reformation by a direct return to holy scripture.

And another non-American, Alistair McGrath, Six Fundamental Convictions of what he described as evangelicalism seemed to capture, for me anyway, the emphases of the current evangelical movement and of evangelical theology: first, scripture authority, scripture as a source of knowledge of God and a guide to Christian living; the majesty of Jesus Christ both as incarnate God and as lord and as savior of a sinful humanity; third, the lordship of the Holy Spirit; fourth, the need for personal conversion for everyone, including one’s own family members; five, the priority of evangelism for both individual Christians and the church as a whole; and then lastly, the importance of Christian community for spiritual maturity, for fellowship and for growth—the idea the lone person working out his salvation apart from being in a community with a fellowship of fellow believers is a truncated understanding of New Testament Christianity.

Now having talked about evangelicals, the subject is evangelicals and the Middle East, as I understand the title, with the focus on—as everything is in the Middle East—a focus on Israel.

Evangelicals as a group—and let me say that evangelicals are far more diverse and far more layered in their nuances than is commonly understood by the modern media. So I’m not speaking for all evangelicals. I think I can safely say that I’m speaking for a majority of evangelicals in saying that evangelicals have and do strongly support Israel.

Many of them do so for religious reasons. They believe that God has a special covenant relationship with the Jewish people; that that relationship has not been abrogated; that God has a covenant with Israel, and God has a covenant with the church, and they’re different covenants; and that God made certain promises to the people that are Jews, those who are the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, that he did not make to any other people, that they are his chosen people; and that the return of the Jewish people to the holy land in the 20th century is the beginning of a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

Now, I want to be very careful to say that that does not mean that our support for the Jews, and our support for the Jews as God’s chosen people in that covenant relationship, means that we find that to be synonymous with the state of Israel. You notice I very carefully said the return of large numbers of the Jewish people to the holy land, as opposed to the state of Israel, and we certainly do not give blind acceptance of everything that the state of Israel does or has done. But we do support the first of the Jews to exist in the land that God gave to them without any time limitation.

There are other evangelicals who would be more reformed in their theology as opposed to those who would be less reformed, and evangelicals fall into certain categories. You have sort of the left-wing Methodist strain. You have the Calvinist reform strain. You have the Baptist strain, which is sort of in between the two. You have the charismatic and Pentecostalist strain, which is one of the most fastest-growing ones.

And you would get different answers from different groups and different people within those groups about that special covenant relationship. But I think it’s safe to say that a significant majority of the people who identify themselves as evangelicals believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews, and that God is a keeper of his promises, and that God has made a—God has said that God blesses those who bless the Jews and God curses those who curse the Jews, and that if we want America to be blessed by God, then we need to not be cursing the Jews.

This is one reason why I have found very little if any anti-Semitism, and I’ve been an evangelical and going to evangelical churches all my life. I have never heard an anti-Semitic comment, period—not one deacon, not one deacon’s wife, not one church member. In fact, when we have encountered it, we have said this is the most incomprehensible of all prejudices for someone who claims to be an evangelical Christian to be anti-Semitic. I mean, after all, Jesus was a Jew. The messiah is a Jew. And this is one reason why we find it so incomprehensible. But even among those who are in a more reformed tradition who would see the church as the new Israel, they still believe that in some sense there is still a covenantal relationship, and that we should as Christians support the Jews and their right of return.

And then secondly, and this is a strong—this is, I think, a strong emotion, a strong belief, and a strong assertion across the board for many evangelicals; I’d say the vast majority, at least in my experience—and that is we believe in what has sometimes been called American exceptionalism. We believe that—we do not believe—let me say what we don’t believe first. We don’t believe America is God’s chosen nation. We don’t believe America is a new Israel. But we do believe that God has providentially blessed this nation throughout her history, and a blessing by definition is something that’s undeserved, it’s a blessing; and that that doctrine is a doctrine of service and a doctrine of obligation, not a doctrine of pride and privilege.

In other words we believe that God for his own purposes has chosen to give much to America, and to whom much is given much is required. And that we have a special obligation and a special responsibility to be the friend of freedom, to be the defender of freedom, anywhere in the world; that it is part of our obligation as Christian citizens of this nation to do what we can to make certain that our government is not just a government of a nation with interests—although we are a nation and we do have interests, but we are also a cause, and that cause is freedom. That cause is freedom of conscience. That cause is human dignity. And that we want our government to be a force for those things in the world and to help those who aspire to those things anywhere in the world. And thus, we support Israel as the most stable and assertive democracy in the Middle East.

LUGO : Thank you. The shortest sermon you’ve preached, I’m sure, in a while, huh, Richard? Appreciate that.

Picking up a couple of points here—by the way, all of our Pew Research Center polling confirms your general description of evangelicals. On American exceptionalism they rate the highest. In fact, they emerge as the strongest internationalists of any American religious community; very strong pro-Israel; very close to Jewish Americans on that score; and very strong on viewing Israel and the Middle East more broadly through a biblical prism—you know, their understanding of biblical prophecy and Israel’s role within that. So that’s all very well documented.

I do have a couple of questions related to that, Richard. One of this question of the land. And it’s good to be asking Richard Land this question, actually, because I frankly expected to see a little bit more stirring among American evangelicals with respect to the current Israeli government’s policy on withdrawal from Gaza. Which raises the question, what is "the land" for evangelicals? How do they conceive of it? And under what circumstances would they oppose the Israeli government on the question of the land? I didn’t see as much on Gaza, so I’m curious for you to comment on that.

LAND: Well, first of all, you get different answers from different evangelicals. Trust me, we’re not—it’s like trying to herd cats. I mean, they do believe in the priesthood of the believer, and they take it really seriously. And there’s virtually no vertical structure in evangelicalism. It’s totally horizontal.

But I would say that my own denomination, Southern Baptist—we are the largest Protestant denomination. We have about 16.4 million members in 43,700 churches across the United States. And we’re encouraged that we’re growing by about 12 percent a year outside the South and 2 percent a year inside the South. We’d like to be doing better in the South, but we’re glad we’re doing 12 percent a year outside the South.

And I might add just as a matter of information, as late as 1970, unfortunately and sadly, we were by intentionality a virtually all-white denomination. As of 2004, we are 20 percent ethnic, and that is also by intentionality. We have about 750,000 African-American Southern Baptists, about half a million Hispanic-American Southern Baptists, and about a half a million Asian-American Southern Baptists. And we’re growing faster among ethnics than we are among Anglos.

I think when I’ve been asked that question by a lot of Southern Baptists, what my answer has been—and they seem pleased with it, and at least most of them haven’t, you know, thrown things at me—is that you don’t bless the Jews by asking more for the Jews than they’re asking for themselves. And if the Israeli government, elected by they Israeli people, believes that this is in the best interests of Israel and this is the best interests of the Jews who are in the land, then far be it from us to try to force upon them something that they think is counterproductive for themselves.

Secondly—and I would say this as an evangelical Christian myself—I believe that God gave that land to the Jews forever, and that ultimately the Jews will be all back in the land at some point in the future. But that’s something God’s going to do; it’s not something that America is going to do. It’s not something America is called upon to do.

And so I think you would get probably a minority, a vocal minority, and maybe 20, 25 percent of evangelicals who strongly support Israel are very disturbed by the withdrawal from Gaza and from the smattering of settlements on the West Bank, and who really want one Israel.

There are others, like myself—I had the opportunity to meet for two hours with Menachem Begin, and he made what seems to me—or not Menachem Begin, but Shimon Peres—and he seemed to me to be making arguments that made a lot of sense. He said, look, he said between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea there are 5.2 million Jews and 4.9 million Arabs. He said that’s fact number one. Fact number two is that we are not going to abandon being a democratic state. Fact number three, we are not going to abandon being a Jewish state. Well, if you’re going to fulfill all three of those things, then you have to have a two-state solution in which you have the Israelis—the Israeli Jews, and about—was it 1.7 million Israeli-Arabs living in a state called Israel; and the rest of the Palestinians living in a separate Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.

That seems to me to be fairly clear. And I’m personally comfortable with that, particularly if a Palestinian state agrees to live at peace with her neighbor.

LUGO : Well, one thing is what the Israeli government tries to do; another is what kind of pressure the U.S. government brings to bear on the Israeli government on continuing this process beyond Gaza to the West Bank and even to Jerusalem. I mean, where is the tripwire there for evangelicals, maybe not with respect to the Israeli government, but with respect to the U.S. government?

I think I heard you once say that if there was one issue which could rupture the marriage between evangelicals and George W. Bush—by the way, evangelicals voted 78 percent for George W. Bush in the last election—it was the question of Israel. Weren’t you referring precisely to putting pressure upon the Israeli government to concede more land that it perhaps might be willing to?

LAND: I think that if the American—if our American government were perceived as putting pressure on the Israeli government to make decisions that it was felt by the Israeli people and their government to endanger their security, it would cause a serious and cataclysmic failure in the levee of support for George W. Bush or any American government that did that. It’s one thing for Sharon to say, you can’t occupy people forever, and to say that we ought to withdraw from Gaza and to seek a two-state solution. It is another thing for America—for the American government—to pressure the Israelis to make compromises on their security that they’re not comfortable with.

LUGO : I have heard the criticism often—I’m sure you have—the part of some who are skeptical, including within the Jewish community, of evangelical strong support for Israel. And the argument goes something like, evangelicals are pro-Israel and anti-Semitic. And by the latter they mean that the agenda here is to evangelize the Jews.

Now, you said that one of the defining features of evangelicalism is the priority of evangelism. Why aren’t Jews part of that basic mission?

LAND: They are.

LUGO : Well, so how does that fit, then, with what you are saying?

LAND: Well, you know, I get asked this question often, and my answer is quite simple. I respect all faiths. I respect people of no faith. I believe that for anyone to try to coercively interfere with a person’s relationship with their god as they understand god, to try to interfere coercively is soul rape, as Roger Williams put it in the 17th century, and I don’t think we’ve come up with a better phrase since.

Thomas Helwys, who was one of my Baptist ancestors, who was put in the tower of London and died there by the King of England in 1611, he wrote a book called, "The Mystery of Iniquity," which is the first plea in the English language for complete freedom of religion and said that the king, although he was a great king, was just a king and that mere kings didn’t have the right to try to tell individual human beings to whom they should—in whom they should believe or the deity they should worship. That should be an individual question of conscience. That was in 1611.

Having said that, I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian who believes in biblical authority. My faith has something in it called the great commission, that I’m to go into all the world and preach the gospel and to seek to evangelize people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now when people say to me, as they often do—I had a rabbi say to me last month—he said I appreciate your commitment to Israel. I appreciate your commitment to freedom of religion, but your insistence that you have the right to evangelize Jews offends me.

And I said, well, I can appreciate that. But if the price of respecting your faith is to disrespect mine, then it’s too high.

I don’t have the right to coercively try to get you to listen to the gospel. I don’t have the right to seek to manipulate you toward the gospel.

But I do have, I believe, a religious obligation to ask for the opportunity to share my faith. And you have to understand that for an evangelical Christian, the sharing of one’s faith in Jesus is an act of love, not an act of prejudice, not an act of hate. And we don’t just try to evangelize Muslims and Jews; we evangelize family members, not only children, but I witnessed to my grandfather. I witness about my faith in Jesus Christ to aunts and uncles and uncles-in-law and mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law because the great commission isn’t selective.

LUGO : One last question before we turn to the audience.

Our polling at the Pew Research Center also shows that evangelicals have the highest negative views of Islam and Muslims of any group in the United States by far.

Is this related to the Israel question? Or is there something larger at work there, including the question with which you are intimately connected, the issue of religious persecution beyond—in the Middle East and beyond?

LAND: I don’t think there is a single answer to that. I think that there’s—I don’t know when—if you’ve seen any difference in the polls. My guess is, you’ve seen a big difference in the polls since 9/11. I think it spiked. I didn’t—it existed before 9/11. I think it spiked a lot after 9/11.

I think it’s related to persecution of people—of non-Muslims in Muslim countries, the lack of freedom of religious expression in many Muslim countries, although not all. We need to hasten to point out that there are majority Muslim countries that do have freedom of expression. They just don’t usually happen to be countries that are Arabic in origin. Bangladesh, for instance, and Indonesia are certainly—they honor that in principle, and they seek to honor it in practice and are seeking quite bravely to do so.

I think it has to do with terrorism. I think it has to do with—unfortunately, a lot of evangelicals too easily equate radical Islamic jihadism with Islam. And you know, George W. Bush has taken a lot of heat from evangelicals for saying that Islam is a religion of peace.

And my response to that is that Islam, like Christianity, is a many-splintered thing. There are a lot of different kinds of expressions of Christianity, and there are a lot of different kinds of expressions of Islam. Unfortunately, the ones which—the one which most Americans are most concerned about and has been sort of front-page news is radical Islamic jihadism, which I’m told is not in any way, shape or form anything other than a small minority, although obviously a rather active minority within Islam.

And so I think that those are the contributing causes to it. You know, you have to understand that evangelicals really, really believe in religious freedom for everyone. They believe that a person’s freedom of conscience in matters of faith is sacred, and they are offended when anyone seeks to coerce it.

I think that probably even more important than the alliance that’s taking place between evangelicals and traditional Roman Catholics in America over the pro-life issue, in terms of cementing this very strong alliance that takes place across the country at community level between traditional Catholics and evangelicals, is the fact that in the wake of Dignitatus humanae, the encyclical in which the Catholic Church renounced coercion in matters of faith, that the Vatican has emerged as perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson in the last 30 years for religious freedom as the first freedom, a phrase that Jefferson used, as well—that it’s the first freedom.

And so whenever anyone, be it commissar in China or Vietnam or mullahs in Saudi Arabia, seek(s) to coerce people in faith and to not allow freedom of personal belief and expression of that belief, we are grievously offended.

LUGO : Thank you. Well, now it’s your turn. We would ask that you would wait for the microphone, which is coming around. If you could please stand, state your name and affiliation, and please keep your questions or comments concise so that we can get as many of you in as possible. The gentleman right here—

QUESTIONER: Thank you. David Apgar, Corporate Executive Board.

Two quick questions. First, since the 1940s, has there been a convergence between evangelicals and fundamentalists? I’d be interested to hear an update of the history since the introduction of the term evangelicals in this century.

And second, the primacy on freedom and human dignity would seem to be empty, if not backed up sometimes by force in a rough world. Can you generalize about evangelicals’ view toward war in support of evangelical objectives?

LAND: Well, in answer to the first question, no, there hasn’t been much convergence. I mean, you know, the fundamentalists who call Billy Graham a false prophet and used to boycott his crusades, evangelicalism has waxed as fundamentalism has waned, and especially when it comes to social engagement because one of the principles of fundamentalism is separation from culture, whereas one of the principles that caused evangelicalism to emerge as a movement was the call to follow our 18th and 19th century spiritual ancestors back into engagement with the culture because—you know, John Wesley and the 18th-century evangelicals were very much engaged in seeking to right social evils in 18th and 19th century culture, and the same was certainly true in the 19th century of evangelicals, particularly in the north.

And so, you know, Carl F.H. Henry, who is a towering figure in 20th century evangelicalism, probably our most prominent theologian, in 1948 called (sic) a book called, "The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism," in which he called for a conscious act of reengagement with American culture and was roundly and very, very harshly criticized by the fundamentalist movement for doing so.

Now, the only convergence has been that some elements of fundamentalism have joined—have taken the same position on some compelling social issues in the last 20 years, as evangelicals and have been willing to engage—reengage—the culture to a limited extent on those issues, like the sanctity of human life issue or the traditional marriage issue.

But no, the differences are—they define each other more often against themselves than with each other.

LUGO : Could you address quickly the second question, because it’s a very important one. I mean, in our polling evangelical support for the Iraq war, for instance, it’s consistently higher than the general population—strong support for democratization.

What about the use of U.S. force in pursuit of foreign policy objectives, including democratization in the Middle East?

LAND: And I would not say that we would justify the use of force in pursuit of evangelical objectives or even American objectives. We believe these are universal values, that we believe in our founding documents, that we believe that all men are created equal, and they’re endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And if that’s a jarring note to you, I would suggest that perhaps it is you who have changed, not we.

John Kennedy, in his 1961 inaugural address said that freedom was God’s gift to mankind, and here on earth, God’s work must be our own. I can’t even imagine what would happen if George Bush said the same thing today. John Kennedy, near the conclusion of his inaugural address, said that. Abraham Lincoln said that we were the last best hope of mankind. Woodrow Wilson talked about the war to end all wars. In our offices in Nashville we have Norman Rockwell’s posters of the four freedoms that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, which we took to be universal values, not an attempt to impose American values, but universal values.

And in believing in American exceptionalism, I would say most evangelicals would argue that America was one of the chief, if not the chief, architect of most of the international organizations that were brought into being to try to protect human rights and promote peace in the world after World War II and that we should work through those. We should work—work through multilateral organizations, when possible. But when necessary—when necessary—if the multilateral organizations will not act and we have the capacity to act without overwhelming negative repercussions, we have an obligation to act.

I argued—I argued from every rooftop I could find in the early 1990s for American intervention in Bosnia, that we should do so with NATO, but if NATO would not do it—just because NATO wouldn’t grow a spine doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. And to me, the ultimate—the ultimate—poster, the ultimate symbol of multilateralism without American leadership, even in Europe, were those Dutch peacekeepers handcuffed around the trees while the Serbian thugs sorted out the Muslim men and boys to be taken out into the woods and shot in the worst case of ethnic cleansing since the end of World War II.

And I believe that America is culpable because we could have acted, and we didn’t. We’re culpable morally because we could have acted in Rwanda, and we didn’t. And just because the multilateral organizations wouldn’t go with us does not relieve us of the responsibility of acting when we had the capacity to act without overwhelming negative repercussions.

What do I mean by overwhelming negative repercussions? We’re not going to invade North Korea because under the principles of just war, that would fail the question of proportionality. But in every case, I would never see it as intervention to promote evangelical causes, but to promote freedom, human dignity and stopping the murdering and the butchering of innocent women and children. And I think we’ve seen two examples in the 1990s. I strongly supported Clinton in his intervention in Kosovo and thought it should have come sooner.

LUGO : Thank you, Richard.

Let’s go to this side, and let’s go to the back. So we’ll be always balanced here. Yes?

QUESTIONER: My name is—(inaudible). I’m an Arab journalist, and I want to thank you so much for what you have said. As a man of faith, I want to ask you about two things. I heard you talking about your interest in—your feeling offended when someone abused religious freedom and other—similar principles.

My question will be, why—as we see it from a Muslim point of view, why, like the evangelical leaders,—(inaudible)—like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others not only disagree with them, but insult the Muslims, like insulting the prophet, insult the religion itself. I understand you disagree with someone, but why insulting it? Is this like—what kind of principle can explain this?

Second, the issue of Palestinian human rights, like if you support human rights, where the evangelical church, do you believe that the Palestinians’ human rights are violated, if yes or no, where are you? Why aren’t you speaking with them? How would you support like the state of Israel in supporting—in doing something that’s opposite your principles?

Finally, I would love to—

LUGO : All right, that’s two. That’s two.

QUESTIONER: Okay—if we can—just for now.

LUGO : Thank you. Those are two very meaty questions. So, Richard, what about prominent evangelical spokespersons like Falwell or Robertson? Franklin Graham also has made comments on Islam as a religion.

LAND: Well, I disagree with those statements, as do many evangelicals. You know, one of the definitions of a leader is they have followers, and some of the people you’ve mentioned have fewer followers each year.

I disagree with those statements. I thought that they were erroneous and wrong. I don’t think that you should define any religion as evil; I think you should describe actions as evil.

If Serbian thugs are killing Muslims in Bosnia in the name of religion, that’s evil. If Protestants—if terrorists calling themselves Protestants or Catholics—are killing each other in the name of religion in Ireland, that’s evil.

If children are being recruited as suicide bombers in the name of Islam, that’s evil.

You know, actions are evil. I don’t think that beliefs of religions can be characterized as evil because what you’re doing in the name of that religion and why you say you’re doing it.

Secondly, I think there should be more concern expressed. I have expressed it, and I think other evangelical leaders are beginning to express it about the lack of religious liberty, as we would define it, in the state of Israel for Palestinians and Jews.

And secondly, certainly we should be concerned about Palestinian rights as we would be concerned about anyone’s rights. I think evangelicals—most evangelicals—would support a democratic government elected by its people and accountable to its people on the West Bank, which would protect human rights.

And we’re concerned about Palestinian’s rights being trampled, whether they’re being trampled by Israelis or whether they’re being trampled by Palestinian authority groups since the control has been turned over to them.

I’m very concerned, for instance, about the number of Palestinian Christians who have felt compelled to leave the West Bank and Gaza since control was returned to the Palestinian authority because of an imposition of Intifada attacks because they didn’t support the Intifada. And the coercive sale of businesses at extremely reduced rates and the lack of access to holy sites.

So I can just tell you as one evangelical, I’m opposed to the violation of basic human rights whoever’s rights are being violated. Whether they’re Bosnian Muslims, whether they’re Palestinian Christians, Muslim Palestinians or agnostics anywhere in the world.

I think that we—everyone has a right—the universal—the U.N. universal declaration of human rights says that every human being has the inherent right to freedom of conscience in matters of faith and not only the right to believe, but the right practice or change that faith. It seems to me that should be our gold standard.

Now would I recommend our First Amendment system to the countries of the world? As an American, I would recommend it. I don’t have the right to try to impose it or require it. But I do have a right, as an American and as a citizen, to say that every nation in the world should respect the basic rights laid down in the U.N.’s universal declaration of human rights, which virtually every country in the world is a signatory to.

LUGO : Thank you. Let’s go back to this side. The gentleman in the middle over here? And then we’ll come back.

Again, stand up and identify yourself, please.

QUESTIONER: Amit Anginsor (ph), MTV Television (ph).

In terms of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, most probably toward obtaining nuclear weapons and your—in terms of your religious beliefs, do you think Iran should be attacked militarily?

LUGO : Very pointed question and concise. Thank you.

(Laughter.)

And by the way, our polling does show, Richard, that of all U.S. religious groups, evangelicals give the highest approval to preemptive war in precisely this situation. But don’t let that skew your answer in any way.

(Laughter.)

LAND: I would wish that we could do everything we could to help non-militarily. I—let me preface this by saying I strongly support the assist democracies act that has currently been passed by the U.S. House and is now before the U.S. Senate, which lays out a myriad of ways. I mean, the act is about that thick in single-spaced type, sponsored by Frank Wolf in the House and John McCain in the Senate, that would specify myriad ways—non-military ways—in which the United States government would seek to promote democracy and to promote freedom and promote representative government by assisting movements within those countries that are seeking it that do not have it.

And I would wish that the Iranian people can have an open and free internationally monitored election in which they could decide for themselves how they would be governed. And they would decide for themselves the laws under which they would be governed and that anyone who wanted to who was an Iranian citizen could participate freely in that process. That is obviously not the case in Iran at the present, much to the dismay of many Iranians.

I do not believe it is in the best interest of the world for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. I am comfortable with the process that is currently going forward to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons capabilities.

Would I under all circumstances not support a military option? No. I wouldn’t under all circumstances not support a military option. I would seek to do what I do in every case, which would be to apply the principles of just war to any use of military force.

It must first of all be a last resort. It must be a last resort.

Secondly, we would have to have compelling evidence there was an intent to use these weapons against other people if they were developed.

Third, you would have to weigh in the question of proportionality, whether or not the military attempt would end up causing more harm than it would alleviate. You know, those of you who are of a certain age will remember the dilemma in—the supposed dilemma in—Vietnam. You know, you have to annihilate the village to liberate it. And, of course, they don’t feel very liberated when they’re annihilated.

The—I think that Just War Theory is—Just War Theory does not make war a good thing. It just attempts to limit the use of armed force. And it attempts to point out that sometimes—sometimes—war is the least bad thing among the bad options that you have.

LUGO : Thank you.

LAND: I would just say that Just War Theory was never intended to mean you have to wait to be attacked first. I think John F. Kennedy was using—was well within just war parameters when he said to the Russians, we will not allow those missiles to remain in Cuba. They will be removed. If they are not removed, we will remove them, that that was such an imminent danger to the United States—a violation of the Monroe Doctrine—that it would have been justified to use a military force first in response to what was an act of war, in essence, which was the stationing of those missiles 90 miles from our shore.

My father was in the task force that left Pearl Harbor the week before Pearl Harbor to go and reinforce Midway and Wake Island. The carriers, fortunately, were with them so they didn’t get sunk.

My father was on his way—the task force of which he was a part—he was a 20 year-old sailor on a cruiser—when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, they went looking for the Japanese fleet. They didn’t find it, which is probably a good thing because they would have been significantly outgunned.

But if they had run into the Japanese fleet, operated under radio silence, 150 miles from Pearl Harbor in December the 6th, they wouldn’t have waited for the Japanese planes to leave the deck before they attacked the Japanese fleet. And that was, I believe, to be within just war parameters. Being that close to Pearl Harbor, given the situation with—under radio silence, was an act of war.

LUGO : I, for one, was very pleased that the Cuban missile crisis was resolved as it was since I was living in Cuba at the time as a youngster and would not ever have gotten out and fulfilled my life’s purpose of being a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

(Laughter.)

Okay. If you could come up a little bit. The young lady right there? Yes.

QUESTIONER: I’m—(inaudible)—Binanca (ph), Council on Foreign Relations in New York. I have two short questions for you regarding what you’ve just said.

You said in a previous column that the only defensive war is defensible. And I was wondering if you still considered that Iraq was a just war, even though the troops did not find weapons of mass destructions?

So can we consider that there was imminent danger?

And I wanted to know what do you think should be the three top priorities for evangelicals in their foreign policy agenda?

Thank you.

LUGO : Again, meaty questions. How about the Iraq war? In retrospect, no weapons. Would that meet just war criteria as you understand it?

LAND: For me, it does. You’ll get different answers from different evangelicals, although as Luis’ polling show evangelicals are still the segment of the American population that are most strongly supportive of the war.

For me, the Iraq war was a continuation of 1991, where we resisted the invasion of Kuwait and we stopped with a cease fire—not a peace treaty, but a cease fire—where Iraq agreed to meet certain conditions, none of which they met for 12 years.

And after 12 years, we picked up the cease fire and resumed the war. So clearly that would be a defensive war.

For me, weapons of mass destruction were a part of the justification for the liberation of Iraq. But it wasn’t the only justification. There were others that had to do with, you know, the president having said—and somehow, this gets missed a lot. I wish it would get noticed more.

The president said the way—in the wake of 9/11 the way we’ve been doing business in the Middle East as a government for the last 50 years has been wrong. We’ve been supporting governments that we wouldn’t live under—oligarchical, fascist governments that have shown little, if any, regard for the needs of their own people. And we did so first of all in the name of anti-Communism. And secondly, in the name of stable oil supply.

And this is a failed policy under Democratic and Republican presidents for a half a century. And it has helped to be a breeding ground for the kind of nihilistic, Islamic jihadism that we see that was—that came forth from those countries and that the only way to adequately deal with the terrorist threat is to help democratize the Middle East by helping to build stable governments that are representative of their people and are elected by their people.

And, you know, I think a compelling argument in his favor is what happened on January 30th—how quickly we forget. We have in this country what I would say are consequential elections. Whichever way you voted, I think you would have to agree, 1980 was a consequential election in this country about whether Ronald Reagan was going to be president or Jimmy Carter.

2004 was a real consequential election, in which the American people were called upon to make some very basic decisions about the direction they wanted this country to go. And yet, a higher percentage of Iraqis braved direct threats of retribution and of being blown up from machine guns to vote in their election than the percentage of Americans who voted in our election.

Let’s not forget the purple stained fingers. The year I was born was 1946. I’m the first year of the Baby Boom. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and I were born in the same year. And the mandarins of American foreign policy—far—many of them and a lot of editorial writers—some are from newspapers that are represented here—said the Japanese were a militaristic nation, a feudal nation, that would never accept democracy; that Germany was a militaristic nation where democracy had been tried and failed in Weimar and that we would never be able to construct a viable democracy in Germany.

Well, when we got around to asking the German people and the Japanese people without someone pointing a gun at them and threatening to shoot them if they disagreed, they produced two of the most stable democracies we’ve seen for over half a century.

I believe, as an evangelical and as an American, that people around the world, including Arabs, when they’re asked do you want a government that represents you and your family and is going to be accountable to you and is going to work for what’s in the best interest of you and your family as opposed to megalomaniac dreams of some sort? They will choose representative self government.

And I believe it is our obligation and our responsibility to help them when we can.

LUGO : Richard, could you comment quickly because our time is about the expire—

LAND: Yes, about the three top priorities—

LUGO : Yeah, what are the three top priorities, but please don’t consider this three points in a sermon.

LAND: I won’t.

LUGO : You know, and a poem at the end. Just—if you could just list them without must commentary for us.

LAND: Maximizing freedom and democracy in the world—as many self-governing democracies as possible. Self-governing democracies don’t have a habit of attacking self-governing democracies. I can only find one instance in the 19th and 20th century where that actually occurred. If you believe the Confederacy was a self-governing democracy, at least elected by white males, they attacked another government elected by white males at Fort Sumter.

Other than that, I can’t find another example of a self-governing democracy accountable to its people that attacked another self-governing democracy.

Secondly, maximizing of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience for all people everywhere, where people are guaranteed they will not be discriminated against and they will not be persecuted and they will not be terrorized because of their personal choices about their religious belief.

And then third, doing all that we can to alleviate the grinding poverty that still so—causes so much pain and suffering in so many parts of the world.

LUGO : We got a question without the microphone. But that’s fine. That includes Pakistan and Saudi Arabia he was saying.

LAND: Absolutely. I’m part of the U.S. commission that voted to make Saudi Arabia a country of particular concern and kept pestering our government until we finally did it.

LUGO : Thank you very much. You’ve been very patient. There’s never enough time for these things and many of our events of the Pew Forum.

Please join me in thanking Richard Land for being with us tonight. (Applause.)

 

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A Conversation With Giovanni Buttarelli

Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor, discusses the strategy for his five year mandate and other data protection issues in Europe and around the world.

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