The Second Annual CUFI Conference, July 2007: The Christian Zionist Coalition Hits its Stride
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Christians United for Israel, the Zionist lobby group that has grown by leaps and bounds since its founding two years ago, held its second annual conference in Washington, D.C., July 2007. Attended by political figures and rank-and-file members alike, the AIPAC-style conference showcased the group’s formidable financial, organizational, and political strength, signaling that the group seems poised to set the agenda for future Christian Zionist work in the United States.
CHRISTIAN ZIONISM is hardly a new phenomenon in the United States, but until recently, the efforts and activities of the many Christian Zionist groups spread across the country were mainly local, with little coordination among them. No longer. On 25 February 2006, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) was born, opening—in all likelihood—a new era of Christian Zionist activism.
CUFI’s second annual conference, which attracted more than 4,000 participants from all over the United States, was held this year in Washington, D.C., at the Wardman Park Marriott Hotel, 16–19 July. With its pep-rally format of speeches and side events culminating in a final day of organized lobbying on Capitol Hill, the conference was unabashedly modeled on the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. Like AIPAC (which assists CUFI in its lobbying efforts), CUFI is a single-issue organization, founded as “a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry, or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to biblical issues.” Its goals, as spelled out in its statement of purpose, are twofold: (a) to educate and build Christian support for Israel throughout America, and (b) to communicate pro-Israel perspectives to U.S. elected officials at the national and state levels.
Brian Wood is a researcher in charge of the Institute for Palestine Studies’ Congressional Monitoring Project.