Support for Israel Growing among Hispanic Christians
Hispanic Americans are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population -- and polls show that more and more are embracing evangelical Christianity.
Learning about their faith and the Bible has also led to a greater interest in Israel -- and these pro-Israel Hispanics are set to become a valuable friend and timely ally to the Jewish state at a crucial time in its history.
When Israeli leaders survey the world scene, the landscape is not always encouraging. From Europe to the United Nations to the Muslim world, anti-Israel sentiment is growing stronger.
Yet a new voice is emerging that could help change that narrative.
"There's an excitement, a passion to support Israel," said Pastor Carlos Ortiz of CUFI Espanol, "just because we believe what the Bible says."
Ortiz is national Hispanic coordinator for Christians United for Israel (CUFI). He says America's rapidly growing Latino population -- estimated to number some 75 million by the year 2025 -- presents a natural ally for the Jewish state.
"Hispanics, by nature, are Christian-driven, evangelical-driven, Catholic-driven," he told CBN News. "We believe in the Bible. And the Bible says that we are blessed by blessing Israel and that it's our job to bless Israel."
A growing number of Hispanic believers take that job seriously. CUFI, America's largest pro-Israel group, has seen a major increase in Hispanic members over the past few years.
"We let them know that Israel is in danger," Ortiz said. "And that there's imminent danger from countries like Iran. So we're trying to teach them."
A crucial part of that education is experiencing the Holy Land firsthand.
In Jerusalem, CBN News talked with a group of leading Hispanic American pastors who were meeting with Israeli government officials.
"There is a strategic alliance right now that needs to be created -- a very strong one between Israel and especially the Hispanics and evangelicals in the United States," said Tony Calatayud, national director of Salem Radio Espanol.
Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein agrees.
"We are looking into all kinds of people who have followers and have influence in the Hispanic community in the U.S. and in Latin America itself," Edelstein told CBN News. "So I think that this relationship will go on and continue to develop."
Iran and Hezbollah are making also inroads into Latin America, where radical leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez regularly engage in anti-Israel rhetoric.
That means Hispanic support for Israel may just become a national security issue as well.