Something important was missing from most news stories this week on President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: the name of the man Christians believe was crucified, died, was buried and resurrected there.
“It is rather astonishing. One would think there are only two religions involved,” the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue told LifeZette on Thursday, referring to Judaism and Islam.
Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with 2.1 billion adherents, compared to 1.3 billion Muslims and 1.1 billion atheists, agnostics or no preference.
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“We get nothing,” he said. “As if Christians are invisible … It’s not just in a few quarters. It’s all across the landscape here.”
The name “Jesus” did not appear, for instance, in the main New York Times story, with the writer only mentioning that Jerusalem is “sacred ground to Christians.”
Even CNN.com’s religion staff seemed unaware of Christianity’s Jerusalem roots, writing that “Abraham, David, Solomon, the Virgin Mary, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed are all said to have visited Jerusalem at one time or another.”
Christians know that Jesus isn’t just “said” to have visited Jerusalem “at one time or another.” The Gospels describe how Jesus’ ministry began in Galilee north of Jerusalem and ended with His trial, crucifixion and resurrection. Acts 1:9-12 describes Jesus ascending to heaven from the Mount of Olives on the east side of Jerusalem.
Jesus famously entered the city of Jerusalem, riding a donkey on what is now known to Christians as Palm Sunday.
From the Gospel of John:
“On the next day, when the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet him and cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.'”
But Jewish and Roman leaders were determined to end His life and did so the following Friday. Few of these historical details made it into scores of stories about the U.S. embassy move.
The USA Today story focused on why Jerusalem is important to Jews, Muslims and Christians, struggled with the basics, writing that Jesus “died” in Jerusalem, not mentioning that He was crucified.
“It’s an ad hoc mixture of ignorance and flat-out bigotry,” Donohue said of the sparse mentions of Jesus and Christians. “You can’t talk about Jerusalem without talking about Jesus. It’s impossible. Jesus is central to the discussion.”
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, told LifeZette that Jerusalem is important to Christians for several reasons.
Biblical scholar David Barton, who leads the Christian ministry WallBuilders, said he understands why journalists may focus on Jews and Muslims in stories about Jerusalem, given that only 2 percent of the population of Israel is Christian. But for Christians in America and elsewhere, Jerusalem is very significant.
“From a historical standpoint, it is a big deal,” he said.
Thousands of Americans visit Israel every year, many of them with church groups. Much of their time is spent in Jerusalem, including visiting the Mount of Olives; the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in anguish just before His betrayal and crucifixion; the town of Bethlehem, six miles outside of Jerusalem, where Jesus was born; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, thought to be built where Jesus was nailed to the cross and later entombed.
Similarly, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, told LifeZette that Jerusalem is important to Christians for several reasons.
“A large part of the ministry of Jesus Christ happened right there,” he told LifeZette. “That’s where He was crucified,” he said, adding that it’s also “where He’s coming back to rule and reign.”
PoliZette writer Margaret Menge can be reached at [email protected]