Although Christians have long been Israel’s greatest ally, a new bill has been proposed in the Knesset, outlawing Christians from talking about their faith and teaching others.
The two influential members of Israel’s Knesset that introduced the bill to outlaw teaching the Gospel in Israel are part of United Torah Judaism and Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher. They claim that “missionary groups, mainly Christians,” have increased their efforts to convert Israelis.
The proposed bill would make religious proselytization punishable by jail time. The suggestion has alarmed both Jewish Christians in Israel and Christians around the world. Government officials have tried to calm fears surrounding the bill, noting that it will not be put into law.
The bill calls for jail time if someone is caught “soliciting” another person. A Christina sharing their faith with an adult would be punishable by one year in jail, but if a Christian shared their faith with a minor, their penalty could increase to two years in jail.
According to the Times Of Israel, Gafni submits the bill at the start of every Knesset, whether or not there is an expectation of it gaining popularity and advancing.
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Although the bill has been introduced by Gafni since January, it did not receive attention until Joel Rosenberg, a messianic Jew and well-known American author, shared what was happening. After which, the Foreign Ministry was flooded with calls from Christian groups, leaders, diplomats, and Jews around the world, according to an Israeli diplomat.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded late Wednesday by promising to protect Christians. He tweeted in Hebrew and in English: “We will not advance any law against the Christian community.”
לא נקדם שום חוק נגד הקהילה הנוצרית.
We will not advance any law against the Christian community.
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) March 22, 2023
Netanyahu has been friendly towards the Christian faith and, according to an inside source, “would never allow this bill to pass.”
Still, pro-Israel Evangelicals have urged him to stop the Ultra-Orthodox bill that would outlaw sharing the good news.
Netanyahu speaks to Evangelical Christian audiences at conferences, hosts an annual “Christian Media Summit” for Evangelical journalists, and loves to invite Christians from all over the world to come tour Israel.
INSIDE SOURCES: “PM Netanyahu would NEVER allow this Bill to pass”
🔆Netanyahu ‘speaks to Evangelical Christian audiences at conferences, hosts an annual "Christian Media Summit" for Evangelical journalists & loves to invite Christians from all over the world to come tour Israel pic.twitter.com/UEGuz42o9B
— Freedom2A 𝓣𝓸𝓵𝓭 𝓨𝓪… (@RealKay88) March 23, 2023
President of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Juergan Buehler, appeared satisfied by Netanyahu’s reassurance,
“We appreciate the assurance from Prime Minister Netanyahu that the proposed anti-missionary bill will not go forward, and thank him for speedily putting this matter to rest,” adding, “He has done much over his long political career to strengthen and guard Israel’s relations with Christians worldwide, and our embrace of this nation is warmly returned.”