Modern life, do you feel tired? Do you flex a bit as you rush through your day? You may be one of the millions of consumers who rely on energy drinks to add a little extra pizzazz to your walk.
Although iconic of our time, energy drinks are not an invention of the new millennium. People have relied on them to fight fatigue for at least a century. Today their âenergyâ usually comes from some type of neurological stimulant that makes people more energetic, or sometimes just sugar.
But there was a time when energy drinks actually contained real energy. The active ingredient in these drinks was radium, a radioactive element that releases a bundle of radiant energy with each atomic disintegration. While the link between consuming a radioactive element and obtaining a perceived energy boost is tenuous at best, this did not prevent people in the early 1900s from ignoring the known drawbacks of the ingestion of radioactivity and risking long-term health consequences.
Yum yum radium?
One of those energy-containing products was RadiThor. This energy drink was simply radium dissolved in water. It was sold in the 1920s in one ounce bottles costing around US
Former Israel Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer made waves in May 2021 when he publicly suggested that Israel should prioritize its dealings with American evangelicals over American Jews.
Dermer described evangelicals as âthe backbone of Israel’s support for the United Statesâ. In contrast, he described American Jews as “disproportionately among [Israelâs] reviews. “
Dermer’s comments seemed to shock many because he told them in public to a reporter. But as a historian of the evangelical-Israeli relationship, I did not find them surprising. The preference of the Israeli right for working with conservative American evangelicals over politically more variable American Jews has been evident for years. And this preference has paid off in many ways.
Christian Zionism in the Trump Era
American Christian Zionists are evangelicals who believe Christians have a duty to support the Jewish state because Jews remain God’s chosen people.
During the Trump years, Christian Zionists were crucial allies in the government of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They helped Netanyahu pressure Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as well as the US withdrawal from the “Iran Deal” – the international nuclear arms control agreement with the United States. ‘Iran.
These evangelicals also supported Trump’s recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, as well as cuts of over US $ 0 million in US funding to the Palestinian Authority in 2018.
Coming after this string of political victories for the Israeli-Evangelical alliance, Dermer’s comments made sense.
However, the future of the alliance may be in doubt. Recent polls show a dramatic drop in support for Israel among young American evangelicals. Researchers Motti Inbari and Kirill Bumin found that between 2018 and 2021, support rates fell from 69% to 33.6% among evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29.
While these polls speak most immediately of the current context, they also highlight a larger historical point: Evangelical support for Israel is neither permanent nor inevitable.
Southern Baptists and Israel
The Southern Baptist Convention – long the denominational avatar of American white evangelism – offers an example of how these beliefs have evolved over time, which I examine in my book “Between Dixie and Zion: Southern Baptists and Palestine before Israel “.
Southern Baptists are broad supporters of Israel, and have been for much of the past half century. Baptist leaders like WA Criswell and Ed McAteer helped organize Christian Zionism in the United States. The Southern Baptist Convention itself has passed a number of pro-Israel resolutions over the past decades.
More recently, Southern Baptist support for Israel was highlighted when the Trump administration invited Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, to lead a prayer at the opening of the United States Embassy. in Jerusalem in 2018.
However, Southern Baptists were not always so united in their support for Israel or the Zionist movement that led to its creation. This was evident just days after Israel’s creation in 1948, when the convention’s annual meeting messengers repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted on resolutions calling for the convention to send a congratulatory telegram to the US president – and to his Southern Baptist colleague – Harry Truman for being the first foreign leader to recognize the Jewish state.
Zionism was “God’s plan” – unless it wasn’t
It sounds shocking today, after years of seemingly unanimous evangelical support for Israel. However, as I document in my book, Southern Baptists held varying views on Zionism and âthe Palestinian questionâ in the decades leading up to the birth of Israel. While some have argued that supporting the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine is a Christian duty, others have defended the rights of the Arab majority in the Holy Land.
Around this time, the Southern Baptist Convention published books, pamphlets, and other material reflecting both sides. In 1936, its press published a work by missionary Jacob Gartenhaus, a convert from Judaism to evangelical Christianity, claiming that to be against Zionism was to “oppose God’s plan.” The following year, however, the press published a study manual of J. McKee Adams’ mission asserting that “By all canons of justice and fair play, the Arab is the man of the first importance. “.
Adams was part of a coterie of professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who spoke out against what they sometimes ridiculed as “Christian Zionism” – an unusual term at the time.
Even evangelicals who believed the Bible foresaw the return of the Jews to Palestine disagreed over whether the Zionist movement was part of God’s plan.
The influential Baptist leader J. Frank Norris of Fort Worth, Texas, who split from the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1920s, argued in the 1930s and 1940s that Christians had a duty to God and civilization to support the Zionists.
But there was no widespread feeling that being a Baptist – or Evangelical Protestant – implied support for Zionism. John R. Rice, a prominent follower of Norris, categorically rejected his mentor’s arguments. âThe Zionist movement is not a fulfillment of prophecies on the restoration of Israel,â Rice wrote in 1945. âPreachers who think so are wrong.
On the political question of whether Arabs or Jews should control Palestine, most evangelicals were indifferent. Southern Baptists focused on other priorities in the Holy Land, such as growing their missions in Jerusalem and Nazareth. Even the Baptists who supported the creation of a Jewish state did not organize themselves politically around the issue.
The future of Christian Zionism
In the decades since Israel’s establishment, however, motivated evangelical and Jewish activists – as well as the Israeli government – have worked to bring together interfaith relations, build institutions, and disseminate the ideas that underpin the Christian movement. Zionist today. These efforts have been remarkably effective in making support for Israel a defining element of the religious and political identity of many evangelicals.
However, as the latest survey of young evangelicals shows, there is no guarantee that this will be permanent. This diverse and globally connected generation of evangelicals has their own ideas and priorities. He is more interested in social justice, less invested in cultural wars and increasingly weary of conservative policies.
Young evangelicals remain to be convinced of Christian Zionism. And they may well not be.
This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Walker Robins, Merrimack College.
Walker Robins does not work, consult, own stock or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has not disclosed any relevant affiliation beyond his academic position.