Guest / Limited Access /
Christians Fight Israel's Marriage Ban
Image: Ariel Schalit / AP
Christians Fight Israel's Marriage Ban

Hundreds of Israeli evangelical couples have traveled out of the country in order to get married because the Jewish government does not officially recognize their faith. Church leaders are escalating efforts to change that.

The Council of Evangelical Churches in Israel (CECI), which includes 51 churches and organizations such as Campus Crusade and the Bible Society, formally requested in August 2011 that Israel recognize four denominations on behalf of nearly 5,000 followers. More than a year later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—who must approve the request—has yet to respond, says Michael Decker, chief counsel for the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ).

"Not being recognized leads to practical problems," said Botrus Mansour, director of Nazareth Baptist School, regarding marriage, divorce, and education matters. "We hope a lawsuit will [help]."

But recent events suggest the government may now be more favorable to such recognition. In July, the Interior Ministry reversed a 2009 decision that had denied Israeli citizenship to a Holocaust survivor because of her Messianic Jewish beliefs. In August, the Knesset broadened a property tax exemption for synagogues to include all places of worship, including those of Messianic Jews. Both were responses to JIJ lawsuits.

Media coverage of these victories raised the public profile of JIJ and the cause of religious equality. "That's what changes public opinion," Decker said. "That's what changes politicians as well."

Israel has recognized several Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity since 1948. The Evangelical Episcopal Church in Israel successfully petitioned for recognition in 1970. But about ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSorry 666: Churches Fear 990 More
Sorry 666: Churches Fear 990 More
How more ministries going digital could unwittingly aid atheists targeting church tax breaks.
TrendingMeet the Failed Pastor Who Ministers to Other Failed Pastors
Meet the Failed Pastor Who Ministers to Other Failed Pastors
J. R. Briggs sympathizes with church leaders who don't live up to expectations.
Editor's PickIntroducing the Bible! Now with Less!
Introducing the Bible! Now with Less!
Delete the chapter and verse numbers. Kill all the notes. Make it one column. Make a million bucks.
Comments
Christianity Today
Christians Fight Israel's Marriage Ban
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.