FACT CHECK: No, Preaching Christianity Is Not Illegal In Israel
A post shared on Instagram claims it is illegal to preach Christianity in Israel.
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It is not illegal to preach about religion in Israel. It is illegal to try and convert people by using monetary compensation. It is also illegal to preach to children without the consent of their parents.
Social media users have been spreading claims that it is illegal to preach Christianity in Israel. One particular user said in a video, “Imagine two billion Christians, the world over, blindly supporting them. And in Israel, it is illegal to openly preach the word of Jesus Christ.”
There is no evidence, however, that it is illegal to preach in Israel. If there were a ban on preaching Christianity in Israel, media outlets would have covered it, yet none have. A wider internet search also did not yield any results for an alleged ban.
While some lawmakers have attempted to make it illegal, such as a recent bill introduced earlier this year, religious freedom remains guaranteed under the 1948 Declaration of the State of Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made assurances on X that the bill to outlaw preaching other religions would not pass, according to Times of Israel.
A 2010 State Department notes that preaching about Christianity and all other religions is legal. (RELATED: No, Bella Hadid Did Not Announce Support For Israel In The Israel-Hamas Conflict)
“Proselytizing is legal in the country and missionaries of all religious groups are allowed to proselytize all citizens; however, a 1977 law prohibits any person from offering material benefits as an inducement to conversion. It was also illegal to convert persons under 18 years of age unless one parent were an adherent of the religious group seeking to convert the minor,” reads the 2010 State Department religious freedom report on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
“It is illegal to proselytize to a person younger than 18 without the consent of both parents. The law prohibits offering a material benefit to potential converts while proselytizing,” the 2022 State Department report on religious freedom in Israel partially reads.
Experts told USA Today that preaching is not illegal in Israel.
“There is no legal prohibition in Israel about preaching Christianity in Israel, and it is protected under free speech,” Tamar Hofnung, a visiting scholar at the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, said to USA Today.
The 2022 State Department religious freedom report did note that there is some hostility to Christian missionaries from some Jews in Israel.
“Christian clergy and pilgrims also continued to report that they were regularly harassed and spit upon by ultra-Orthodox Jews. Some Jews continued to oppose missionary activity directed at Jews as amounting to religious harassment and reacted with hostility toward Jewish converts to Christianity, such as Messianic Jews,” the report reads.