The Greens, the evangelical family that started the Hobby Lobby chain and will open the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., in 2017, are behind a new effort to bring Christians to Israel. Modeled partly on Birthright Israel trips for young Jewish Americans, students will pay $500 to go to Israel.
The trips, called Covenant Journey and intended to build bridges with Israelis, were unveiled Friday at the Israeli Embassy in Washington’s Annual Christian Solidarity Event. Taglit-Birthright Israel offers Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 10-day trips to Israel with their peers.
“As young adults experience Israel firsthand, their faith is strengthened, their knowledge of the Bible is increased and their understanding of the connection between the Bible and the Land of Israel is put on solid ground,” said Steve Green, chairman of the board for Museum of the Bible and a keynote speaker at the event Friday. “It will create a foundational platform from which they can become goodwill ambassadors for Israel and the Jewish people, and the Covenant Journey participants will never be the same.”
Hundreds of students will join the 11-day trips this summer and thousands will go on future ones, according to a news release. Museum of the Bible, which broke ground in February and will open in Washington, D.C., in 2017, is a founding sponsor of the trips.
The groups are also sponsored by the Philos Project, a group based in New York focused on Middle East engagement. The trips are part of a larger question of how evangelicals are engaging with Israel as millennial evangelicals are not as vocal on the region as their parents.
It’s difficult to measure long-term support for Israel among evangelicals because many research firms do not ask about attitudes on Israel. Findings from the Pew Research Center suggest that support among evangelicals has remained relatively stable in the past five years.
When asked, “In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, who do you sympathize with more?” evangelicals were far more likely to say Israel — 72 percent to 4 percent in 2013, about the same as in 2009 — according to Pew.