Meet the Group Trying to Change Evangelical Minds About Israel
Inside a Navy Yard WeWork on M Street, Todd Deatherage spends his days trying to bring peace to the Middle East. That’s his home base when he’s not jetting off to the Holy Land, where he has made more than 50 trips over the last decade. The former Capitol Hill and George W. Bush State Department staffer is the co-founder of Telos Group, a D.C.-based nonprofit trying to change how a new generation of American leaders and evangelicals—historically a key pro-Israel bloc based on their reading of the Bible—see the geopolitical quagmire.
All told, Deatherage and a team of seven people have led more than 1,500 influential American leaders, millennial evangelicals and megachurch attendees on tours of both sides of the Green Line about six times a year since 2009. Telos declined to share itineraries of a recent trip, citing its proprietary nature and out of deference to the privacy of those Israelis and Palestinians with whom they meet.
But the tour groups meet with people around sites on both sides of the conflict, including Jews, Christians, Muslims, settlers, refugees, security experts, business leaders and activists. They also meet with parents who have lost children to the conflict. In turn, those who have taken Telos trips stateside to reshape attitudes back home, including those of tens of thousands of fellow parishioners in some of the nation’s largest megachurches such as Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, with its 20,000 attendees.