Yesterday CBC took an unusual interest in evangelicalism in the US. The issue that has captured the Canadian Broadcaster’s attention is the US President’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

So CBC sent Anna Maria Tremonti on a mission to explore the peculiar relationship between evangelicals, or perhaps more accurately, some evangelicals with the Nation State of Israel.

The CBC’s poor qualifications to embark on such an investigation are made clear by the headline given to their Monday episode of “The Current” which they announce as the story of how:

‘Christians are thrilled’: American evangelicals embrace Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital

To conflate “Christians” with “American evangelicals” as if the two are synonymous demonstrates a level of ignorance that clearly renders the CBC incapable of dealing with religious issues with the degree of nuance and care that these complex issues deserve.

Anna Maria Tremonti does little to dispel anxiety about bias and lack of knowledge in the course of the two interviews she conducts. She sounds antagonistic towards her first guest, plays a game of gottcha journalism with a question that has little baring on the actual topic under discussion, and fails to query her second guest when he clearly represents evangelical belief in a manner that is in direct contradiction to the ideas expressed by her first guest who refers to himself repeatedly as an evangelical and clearly has been chosen to represent that group.

Having said all that, I cannot imagine that Tremonti’s first guest did much to elevate Ms. Tremonti’s opinion of evangelicals.

Jerry A. Johnson, Ph.D. is President and Chief Executive Officer of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), an international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations reach millions of viewers, listeners, and readers worldwide, located in Washington, D.C. His argument for the US officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is thin at best.

Dr. Johnson’s rationale seems to rest primarily on his repeated refrain that for evangelicals,

it really goes back about 3,800 yearsLooking back is the issue not looking forward…. It’s mainly looking b ack; it’s not about looking forward for Christians.

Apparently evangelicals are all about restoring the past. Why this return to the past is so important Dr. Johnson is not entirely able to make clear.

Johnson seems to see some vague connection between recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Bible, Jesus as the Messiah, and human rights. Just for good measure, he tosses Holocaust into the pot to flavour his peculiar stew. How all this fits together is a bit muddled.  Johnson says:

It’s a matter of human rights in history. If we care about genocide. You’ve got six to ten million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust. This is their capital.

As a person of the Book, it really goes back about 3,800 years ago in Genesis 12. God made a promise to Abraham and it was really two-fold. He told Abraham, ‘You’re going to have a seed, descendants, a race, a people-group. And this people-group will be a blessing.’

And for Christians it is about the Messiah. It’s about Jesus. I mean we are at Christmas. He is the Jewish Messiah and this is the region where he lived, and the region where he died and rose again. And we’re told he is going to return. So this is the epicentre for the Christian story.

It’s also interesting that in Genesis 12 the other promise to Abraham was that they would have a land. And that goes back 3,800 years ago. And starting with David it really was the capital for the Jewish people.

We call it Palestine but that really didn’t happen until about 2,000 years ago. Up to then it had been called Judea. You couldn’t say the word without hearing the word “Jew”. The Roman Emperor Titus wanted to wipe out the Jews. And he named the area Palestine. We don’t think that’s right.

Looking back is the issue, not looking forward. Jerusalem has never been the capital for any other people-group. No other government has said ‘This is our capital’. This is a Jewish city founded by Jews. It’s mainly looking back; it’s not looking forward for Christians.

Anna Maria Tremonti gets along a little better with her second guest. Stephen Spector, the author of Evangelicals and Israel, dismisses Johnson’s whole appeal to “the past” saying simply,

The whole notion of capital cities is a later idea.

Spector believes, although Johnson clearly dismissed the idea, that the whole evangelical concern about having Jerusalem declared the capital of Israel relates to the evangelical concept of biblical prophecy. Spector suggests that for evangelicals Jerusalem is

the place where Christ will return and therefore it has to be undivided. It has to be a place where the Jews will populate and be in charge. In order for the third temple to be build for example.

So, I hope that clears everything up.