Following President Donald Trump's speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia, a number of evangelical leaders have responded with praise for the speech, but there is much more they're hoping he will accomplish during this first overseas trip of his administration.
"The president's speech to leaders of the Muslim world earlier today was great," the Rev. Franklin Graham said. "It was extremely diplomatic yet strong, direct and honest.
"He said the war on terror was a 'battle between good and evil.' He was not timid in talking about 'confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.' God bless him."
A few hours later, Graham joined in the chorus call for the president to declare he was moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"Israel has been America's closest friend and ally in this part of the world for my lifetime," he added. "They are surrounded by millions who would like to drive them into the sea.
"Pray that God will give President Trump special wisdom—and may he remember that the Bible teaches that God gave this land to the Jews. The Bible says: 'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee' (Psalm 122:6)."
More than 60 evangelical faith leaders shared these views in a letter addressed to the president on Monday. Among the others who signed onto the letter are:
- National Religious Broadcasters President and CEO Dr. Jerry Johnson,
- Christians United for Israel founder and chairman Dr. John Hagee,
- Center for Urban Renewal and Education President Star Parker,
- Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance,
- Christian Broadcasting Network CEO Gordon Robertson,
- Family Talk Radio President Dr. James Dobson,
- Christians United for Israel Action Fund Washington Director Gary Bauer and
- nationally syndicated talk radio host Janet Parshall.
The letter states:
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your leadership of our nation, especially the way you are working to keep your campaign promises. We write to respectfully request your swift action to fulfill a special promise you made, and also one the United States made more than 20 years ago to one of our most important allies. As Christian leaders who collectively speak to over 60 million Americans, we believe the time has come, at long last, to uphold American law by moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel's eternal and indivisible capital city of Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45) declared, "The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's president, Parliament, and Supreme Court and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions." It also noted, "The United States maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of our democratic friend and strategic ally, the state of Israel." Upon its enactment in October 1995, this legislation established in statute that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel and that the U.S. Embassy should be moved there by May 31, 1999.
Sadly, every U.S. president since then has taken advantage of a provision in the law allowing its requirements to be waived for six months if "necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States." Such suspensions have been repeated semi-annually for two decades, and it is time to end America's doublespeak.
The Republican National Convention's official 2016 Platform rightly stated, "We recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and call for the American embassy to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law." Moreover, we were honored and grateful that you pledged to specifically uphold this policy in response to a request from the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) coalition during your campaign. Many of our constituents cast their vote for you due to this commitment.
Now we ask you to send a message early in your administration that the United States will indeed honor its strongest and only true democratic ally in the Middle East by respecting its capital city—Jerusalem—and immediately moving the U.S. Embassy there. Implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act should not be delayed nor made contingent on any future peace agreements.
Thank you for your consideration and your leadership as president of the United States.
Click here to see the full list of those who have signed the letter.
Author Joel C. Rosenberg has also been following the president's foreign trip. He wrote to his followers on social media that no other president has specifically designed a foreign trip—especially his first—to reach out to Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.
"In the days ahead, I hope to provide analysis of his trip, his meetings and his speeches," he wrote. "For now, let's be praying for the president's safety and for the trip to have a positive impact."
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