Religious Leaders Divided Over Trump's Jerusalem Decision Several Jewish-American groups and evangelical Christians applauded President Trump's announcement. Other Christian and Jewish leaders as well as some Muslim-majority nations criticized the move.

Religious Leaders Divided Over Trump's Jerusalem Decision

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Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims. So it's not surprising that religious leaders from all those traditions have strong feelings about President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. NPR's Tom Gjelten reports.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: Jewish organizations were solidly behind a 1995 law that called for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union of Judaism, says it's long been a consensus Jewish position.

NATHAN DIAMENT: Because Jerusalem is the capital city for Israel and the Jewish people, because the United States puts its embassies in the capital cities, and it's unjust and discriminatory to say we're going to single out Israel as the one country where we're not going to put our embassy.

GJELTEN: When President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordered preparations to move the embassy there, several Jewish organizations welcomed the move, among them the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. But there were also misgivings. The Reform Jewish movement noted it has long said that Jerusalem is Israel's eternal capital and that the U.S. embassy should be moved there but only at the right time. Absent a comprehensive peace plan, the movement said it cannot support moving the embassy now. No such qualms from the most conservative evangelical Christian leaders. Johnnie Moore is a member of President Trump's evangelical advisory group.

JOHNNIE MOORE: This decision will be met by political praise and by theological conviction, and evangelicals in every corner of the United States will be ecstatic.

GJELTEN: Ecstatic - evangelicals feel a special kinship with Jerusalem as the city where Christ was crucified and rose again. Moore says for his advisory group, the only issue more important than Jerusalem has been who gets appointed as federal judges.

MOORE: In our various meetings with the White House, the listening sessions, this issue has always come up. And not only has it always come up, but it has always been an extended discussion around the table. I mean, at the heart of the relationship between the United States and Israel is the friendship between evangelical Christians and the Jewish people.

GJELTEN: But some evangelical leaders who generally support the president's Jerusalem decision fear the repercussions for their own Palestinian Christian followers. Muslim leaders in the Palestinian territories warn there will be a reaction there to the president's announcement. Osama Abu Irshaid, representing American Muslims for Palestine, says Trump failed to recognize Jerusalem's multifaith heritage.


OSAMA ABU IRSHAID: He spoke about the Jewish connection to Jerusalem while negating the Christian and the Muslim connection to the land, too, and to the holy city.

GJELTEN: Pope Francis warned against adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts. The heads of Eastern Orthodox churches in Jerusalem say Trump is causing irreparable harm to the prospects for peace. And from a mainline Protestant leader, this statement by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, representing the largest U.S. Lutheran group.

ELIZABETH EATON: Making this announcement I feel has the high probability of leading to violence and bloodshed and does not have an immediate possibility with getting any closer to having the two parties come to the table again.

GJELTEN: Eaton made that statement having just met in Geneva with fellow Lutheran leaders from around the world.

Tom Gjelten, NPR News.


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