I have got my latest Prayergram post. It is, quite aptly, on the topic of the day: the “Jerusalem Prayer”.
One passage reads “God bless Donald J Trump! He understands the real principles behind success. It is not being good at what you do or understanding theory and practice. It is being on the right side of the blessing of God. Whoever blesses Israel shall be blessed: whoever curses Israel shall be cursed.”
And, lest there be any misunderstanding: “If we bless Israel, regardless of its faults, lack of faith, both personally and organisationally, God bless us. While the world cries out, Donald J Trump who learned about the blessing on his mother’s knee, masters the simple, plodding art of doing the right thing regardless of consequences.”
Prayergram send their posts not just to the believers, but others, like journalists who have written negatively about the Christian right or Donald Trump. This is intended to show us the error of our ways and also, if possible, save our souls.
The “Jerusalem Prayer” was, the evangelists stress, of great importance, something that needed to be widely disseminated after Trump had announced that the US embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
There are no fewer than 50 million evangelicals in America who, according to research, are convinced of the literal truth of Biblical prophecy. A recent survey found that 82 per cent of white evangelicals believe that God gave Israel to the Jewish people; a conviction shared by just 40 per cent of American Jews. Among these evangelicals there are those who believe in the prophecy of the “End of Days” foretelling Jewish control of all Jerusalem, a war of civilisations, and a choice of Jews to either embrace Christianity or die in the wrath of God.
The decision to move the embassy does not actually have much popular support across the US population as a whole. A Brookings Institution survey found that it has the backing of only 31 per cent. Polls have also repeatedly found that a large majority of American Jews, who tend on average to have a better standard of education than the rest of US population, and are liberal by tradition, oppose the move.
But Trump’s Jerusalem declaration has been widely and enthusiastically welcomed by his religious base. Johnnie Moore, who acts as a spokesperson for the Trump’s evangelical advisers stated: “The issue was second only to concerns about the judiciary among the evangelical supporters. President Trump has yet again demonstrated to his evangelical supporters that he will do what he says he will do.”
For Paula White, a “megachurch” pastor from Florida who is close to Trump: “once again, President Trump has shown the world what I have always known, he is a leader who is willing to do what is right however loud are the voices of the sceptics and the critics. Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.”
There is also the money in this. Trump’s campaign has received substantial funding from the Christian right and also hardline American Jewish promoters of Israel. They include Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire and Republican donor, who had given $20m (£14.9m) to a PAC (political action committee) which supported the Trump campaign and another $1.5m to the organisers of the Republican convention. Adelson has been lobbying the President persistently on the embassy transfer.
Trump is not the only senior member of the administration to cultivate the Christian right. Vice President Mike Pence, who could be seen on TV standing behind Trump as the embassy announcement was made, with a reverent glow to his face, had pressed for a move to Jerusalem. And backing also came from Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the UN who tries her best to match Trump on hawkish rhetoric about smiting America’s enemies. She avidly courted the evangelical vote while Governor of South Carolina.
There were those in the administration who pointed out that the Jerusalem move will inflame passions in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world; make a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians even more difficult; make it harder to maintain coalitions against Islamist extremists and may put American lives in danger.
They included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who is leading the Israel/Palestine peace initiative had apparently also urged caution initially. But Tillerson may soon be the latest casualty in the Trump administration, to be replaced by the recently appointed CIA director, Mike Pompeo, and Kushner is said to have changed his stance after talks with Adelson.
The evangelists could always site God on their side. For Indiana pastor Paul Begley the embassy move is the beginning of “End of Days”: “The Jewish People – I’ve been there, I’m telling you – they believe when the Temple’s built, the Messiah will be revealed to them. Jesus will be revealed to the Jewish people, and they will embrace him.”
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, “founder/president of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations” wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “Christians recognise the Jews’ biblical connection through King David’s establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of ancient Israel and the location for both the first and second Temples. According to the prophets, Ezekiel, Isaiah and the Apostle John, all Israel awaits the rebuilding of the Third Temple. President Donald Trump may implement one of the most biblically historic initiatives of his presidency by allowing the first step of the Jerusalem Embassy Act to go into effect. “
But, as Cardoza-Moore points out, this was only the first step. It will take several years for the embassy to be moved, construction to start and suitable accommodation found for diplomats and staff.
A lot can happen in that time. The whole thing may drift on the next election. Kushner may become the next person in the White House to be arrested in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the White House’s Russian connections after the charging of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump may himself be impeached or indicted.
There is thus always the possibility, one has to accept, that the “End of Days” is not imminent. Armageddon will be put on hold. The Messiah will not appear for the time being and the Jews will not have to convert to Christianity or perish.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies