The vast majority of US evangelicals believe that the unfolding violence in the Middle East is a sign that the end times are nearer, according to a Brookings Institution survey.
The poll by the Center for Middle East Policy found that 79 per cent of evangelicals believed that current world events showed that the Second Coming of Christ was nearer, compared to only 43 per cent of non-evangelical Christians.
The survey found that overall, evangelicals tended to express a more pro-Israeli stance than non-evangelicals.
However, relatively few evangelicals – only 12 per cent – thought that Christ would return in their lifetimes, with the figure dropping to only five per cent of Christians overall. Most Christians, evangelical (81 per cent) and non-evangelical believed that it would happen at some point.
Among Christians who believe that Christ will return, 55 per cent overall and 75 per cent of evangelicals say that things need to happen in Israel before He does. Among evangelicals, 63 per cent say that it is necessary for present-day Israel to include all the territory they say was promised to Israel in the Old Testament. The figure drops to 51 for all Christians.
The survey also asked who was to blame for violence in Israel and Palestine. While 31 per cent believe that the absence of serious peace diplomacy is most responsible, 26 per cent equally blame continued Israeli occupation and settlement, expansion in the West Bank and Palestinian extremists.
However, partisan differences are significant: 37 of Democrats blame continued Israeli occupation and settlement expansion, followed by 35 per cent who blame the absence of serious peace diplomacy, while 15 per cent blame Palestinian extremists.
In contrast, 40 per cent of Republicans blame Palestinian extremists first, followed by 27 per cent who blame absence of serious diplomacy, and 16 per cent blame continued Israeli occupation and settlement expansion.