Christian Deported from Israel

Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

Rev. Ted Pike
National Prayer Network
June 5, 2008

A Christian student was scheduled for deportation from Israel June 30 because the government accused her of “missionary work.” Roused by police at 6:30 a.m., German grad student Barbara Ludwig was taken to prison and told she must leave Israel by May 30. Haaretz says she “denied being a missionary, although she admits contact with Messianic Jews.”

“They may have seen me at some meetings of the Messianic Jews,” Barbara said. “I go around with Jews, with Christians, and with Messianics, and I read books about Christianity. So what? That’s no reason to deport me.”

Haaretz reports, "Michael Decker, Ludwig’s lawyer, said a hearing held on her case in 2004 in the Interior Ministry was a “humiliating religious interrogation” including asking her whether she believed Jesus was the Messiah.”

Calev Meyers, a lawyer representing Messianic Jews, indicated Ms. Ludwig is accused of violating Criminal Code Sec. 170 and 172 [of penal law 5737-1977]. This law bans speaking publicly in a way that is offensive to people of any religion. The law also says it is illegal to actively convince a minor to convert to another religion, or to pay someone to convert. (See, Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2008, “Or Yehuda Deputy Mayor: I’m Sorry About Burning New Testaments.”)

“Intolerance” in Israel

Israel signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 states: “Everyone has the right to...change his religion...and manifest his religion or beliefs in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Avraham Benjamin, Israel’s First Secretary (Information) said in 1980 that Israel is a “country universally known for its religious freedom, tolerance, and plurality of views...”

Obviously, such “respect for diversity” no longer exists in Israel, if it ever did. There is much more freedom to witness for Christ in countries of the former Soviet Union, where evangelical Christianity flourishes. In the coldest part of the Cold War, Billy Graham was invited to hold crusades in some of these countries. But never in Israel.

Evangelicals fantasize that Israel is turning to Christ. Statistics prove otherwise: In 1920, nearly 12 percent of the inhabitants of Palestine were Christian. But, largely as a result of decades of consistent unpublicized government persecution, Israel’s population of Christians had shrunk to 2.1 percent in 2004.

Anti-Christianity in Israel increases. (See, Christians in Israel: An Endangered Species) Legislation now pends in Knesset that would not just deport but could imprison Christians such as Barbara Ludwig. It says, “Whoever...publicizes things in which there is an inducement to religious conversion is punishable by - one year imprisonment.” (1) This is exactly what Jesus prophesied would happen in the last days. Jewish leaders “...will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in the synagogues.” (Matthew 10:17)

Blind Loyalty to Israel

When will evangelicals face the fact that they are helping build up a Christian-persecuting totalitarian regime, not a democracy? One would think that if fellow evangelicals began to be imprisoned in Israel it might get them thinking. Maybe not. Already, hundreds of New Testaments have been burned in Israel.(See, Israel: A History of Hate Crimes) Would evangelicals reevaluate their unconditional support if Christians were being burned?

That’s a good question. In 1948 “Israel-first” evangelicals only praised Israel as she drove tens of thousands of Christian Palestinians from their homes in Israel to be imprisoned in squalid refugee camps for generations. (See, Why The Mideast Bleeds) They praised Israel in 1982 and 2006 as she killed thousands of Bible-believing Christians through horrific saturation bombing in Lebanon. Right now, they praise Israel as Messianic Christians are daily persecuted in southern Israel. American evangelicals and the government of Israel look on, doing nothing.

Such evangelicals are certainly consistent.

They are consistently more loyal to Israel than to the Christians she oppresses.Endnotes:

1. Here is the actual text of Israel’s proposed anti-missionary law:

Proposed Law of the Knesset members: Moshe Gafni Nissim Zvili P/950
Proposed Penal Law (amendment--possession, printing, reproduction, dissemination, distribution, and importation of publications to induce [SEE FOOTNOTE #1] religious conversion). 5757--1996
1. After paragraph 174B to the Penal Law 5737--1977 [SEE FOOTNOTE #2] would come:
Prohibition of inducement for religious conversion 174C
A) Whoever possesses contrary to the law or prints or reproduces or disseminates or distributes or imports tracts or publicizes things in which there is an inducement to religious conversion is punishable by -- one year imprisonment.
B) Any tract or publication in which there is inducement to religious conversion will be confiscated.

My friend Stan Rittenhouse, in his book, “For Fear of the Jews,” summarizes Israel’s original anti-missionary law. Because of its severity and potential to offend evangelicals, this law has not been enforced to the point of imprisoning Christians. It does, however, provide a precedent and pattern for more recent laws.

The Penal Law Amendment (Enticement to Change Religion) - law, 5738-1977, was passed by the Knesset during Christmas week (December 27, 1977) and went into effect Easter week (April 1, 1978). Violation of this law is a criminal offense, punishable by five years in prison or a fine of 50,000 Israeli pounds (or the equivalent in shekels). The above applies to those attempting to convert someone to their faith if a material benefit is offered. The State of Israel is not as harsh on those converted: Their sentence is three years in prison or a 30,000 Israeli-pound fine. The law reads:

1. Whosoever gives or promises to a person money, money’s worth, or some other material benefit in order to induce him to change his religion or in order that he may induce another person to change his religion, is liable to imprisonment for five years or a fine of 50,000 pounds.
2. Whosever receives or agrees to receive money, money’s worth, or some other material benefit in return for a promise to change his religion or to cause another person to change his religion is liable to imprisonment for a term of three years or a fine of 30,000 pounds.

(From “For Fear of the Jews,” by Stan Rittenhouse. 1982. The Exhorters, Inc. PO Box 492, Vienna, Virginia, 22180)
This law makes it a criminal offense to hand a Jew a tract with a word of witness; to have a Jew over for dinner, discussing Christ; or to witness to a Jew after buying him a cup of coffee. Israel's most recent anti-missionary law (Sec. 170 and 172) and similar legislation now pending are much more direct. They outlaw any public witnessing to Jews, young and old, by Jewish or Gentile Christians.

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