October 1st, 2013
09:52 AM ET
Study: American Jews losing their religion
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - The number of nonreligious Jews is rising in the United States, with more than one in five saying they are not affiliated with any faith, according to a new survey.
While similar trends affect almost every American religion, Jewish leaders say the new survey spotlights several unique obstacles for the future of their faith.
According to the survey, conducted by Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, non-religious Jews are less likely to care deeply about Israel, donate to Jewish charities, marry Jewish spouses and join Jewish organizations.
Pew says their study sought to explore the question, "What does being Jewish in America mean today?" The answer is quite complicated.
Just 15% of American Jews say that being Jewish is mainly a religious matter, according to Pew's survey. By contrast, more than six in 10 say Jewishness is about culture, ancestry and identity.
The most essential parts of being Jewish, according to American Jews, are remembering the Holocaust (73%), leading an ethical life (69%) and working for social justice and peace (56%).
Almost as many American Jews say that having good sense of humor (42%) is as important to their Jewish identity as caring about Israel (43%).
Even among religious Jews, most say it's not necessary to believe in God to be Jewish, and less than one in three say religion is very important to their lives.
Nearly all American Jews - religious and secular - say they are proud to be Jewish.
"The fact that many Jews tell us that religion is not particularly important to them doesn't mean that being Jewish is not important to them," said Greg Smith, director of religious surveys for the Pew Research Center.
The most essential parts of being Jewish, according to the survey, are remembering the Holocaust (73%), leading an ethical life (69%) and working for social justice and peace (56%).
Overall, the majority of Jews (78%) call themselves religious, but the survey showed much lower rates of religious affiliation among millennials, one of several trends that trouble Jewish leaders.
Nearly a third of American Jews born after 2000 answered "none" when asked about their religious affiliation, suggesting that Jewish "nones" are not only a large group, they're growing, Smith said.
The rise of Jewish "nones" tracks with wider trends in the American population, where about a third of millennials don't affiliate with organized religion.
The nonpartisan Pew Research Center says its survey is the most comprehensive since the National Jewish Population Survey in 2000-2001.
Pew surveyed 3,475 Jews from across the country from February 20 to June 13, with a margin of error for the full sample of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The study declines to offer a definitive estimate of the size of the American Jewish population, a matter of heated debate in recent years.
Instead, Pew offered several tallies of American Jews, depending on different definitions of Jewish identity.
Approximately 4.2 million American adults - 1.8% of the overall population - identify as Jewish by religion. In the 1950s, the percentage of religious Jews in the United States was nearly twice as high, according to Pew.
Meanwhile, about 1.2 million adult Americans now identify as secular or cultural Jews - they were raised Jewish, had a Jewish parent and still consider themselves Jewish, even though they don't practice the religion, according to Pew.
Secular Jews are much more likely to marry outside the faith, according to Pew, a trend that has worried Jewish leaders in recent years.
Nearly 60% of American Jews who have married since 2000 have a non-Jewish spouse, according to Pew.
Intermarried Jews, like secular Jews, are much less likely to raise their children in the Jewish faith and have weaker ties to the Jewish community, says Pew's report.
But, in a silver lining for Jewish leaders, intermarriage rates have leveled off, Smith said, holding steady at 60% since the mid-1990s.
Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Daily Forward, said she is not surprised that the study found relatively low interest in Jewish religious beliefs.
"We are a people very much defined by what we do, rather than what we believe," she said.
But Eisner said she is concerned that millennials are less likely to donate to Jewish charities, care strongly about Israel or belong to Jewish groups.
"It's great that these non-religious Jews feel pride in being Jewish," Eisner said. "What worries me is their tenuous ties to the community."
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Who can argue that Jesus wasn't bloodthirsty?
Who can then argue that God still kills with vigor and frequency?
Who can deny then that Christians and Muslims can't wait to die and please their God.
Tis not just the Jews losing their religion.
Only for the new visitors to this blog:
Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
• There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
• Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.
• Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
• A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.
Added details available upon written request.
A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.
"The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.
Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "
I have had a long hard day, I'm tired and I'm going to bed–nite ya-all.
Will you be sleeping in the guest room?
Now if they do legalize it, using the pie chart above, what percentage of Florida Jews of no religion do you think will start using it for the first time vs. Florida Jews who practice their religion? Also, if you could break down your estimates by those involved in some way with the citrus industry (Florida Orange Jews) or not, that would be helpful. I'd like a report by morning.
Is pot Kosher?
Without a doubt and without exception, the Jews are the brightest, most talented, most gifted, most brilliant people. Indeed, they are the chosen ones of god
It is more than obvious
not one can prove they are a true Jew as all records destroyed 70 c.e. none can know which tribe they are from.also killed their Messiah, not that smart sam.
Nice try, but Jesus wasn't the Jewish Messiah. He didn't fulfill all the messianic predictions, and he wasn't just a normal human, like they also expected.
Try this link, it explains it very simply:
he was not what they wanted but what they needed and were promised Isa.53:1-12, Dan.9:24-27 etc. Acts 4:11,12 regarding Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter was moved by Holy Spirit to say to the Jewish rulers and older men in Jerusalem "this is the stone that was treated by you builders as of no account that has become the head of the corner. Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved" (nation of Israel lost special divine favor. now the way is open to all nations as well as individual Jews to benefit by putting faith in Jesus the Messiah. (Matt.23:37-39)must read and apply. j
I don’t buy that!
They are no brighter than anyone else—they just inherit, by association, the ‘talent’ to make money. I believe that Jewish people believe so much the text: Deuteronomy 8:18, that the Lord gives them to get wealth, and if they don’t make money they must be cursed of God and they don’t want anyone to think they are cursed of God so they really work hard to make money.
Opps! "...the Lord gives them power to get wealth..."
Atheists lack education, self esteem and critical thinking skills. Always have, always will...
Any thoughts on why that might be believed by anyone, Dr. ?
Eh, that is a logical fallacy and circular reasoning and a few other smart phrases I know. Take that!
"The fool sayeth in his heart, 'There is no God""...
It's "says," not "sayeth." We prefer English on this blog.
The term “God” has no real meaning because everyone’s God is different.
Killer thread, dude.
No, the fool is the one who quotes an iron age comic book as if it means something
(Matthew 5:22) – "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
Wow, a biblical contradiction! Who could have imagined such a thing?
A fool believes whatever the preacher man says, and gives him money for it.
you didn't, by any chance steal the two "r"'s in your handle from harri, did you?
And what "critical thinking" skills are applied to have faith in a god?
Critical thinking skills? From someone who can't spell his name? Yeah, right!
I don't think so, atheists just are arrogant enough to think they are smarter than anyone that thinks differently than they do.
Does it please your god when you lie? Which god do you believe in, anyway? It can't be the christian god, because he very clearly states that his followers should not lie. He's so strict about it, he made it one of his main 10 commandments. It's certainly a greater sin than things like being gay or eating shellfish. Oddly enough, not believing in god isn't even mentioned in the ten commandments. But lying sure is.
I think that it takes a whole lot less self-esteem to go around believing that you are so worthless as to need "saving" by a mythical character. You might as well be calling out to Superman for help. Pathetic!
It's time to get back in the garden and look for Peter Rabbit. LOLOL!
Atheists lack education, self esteem and critical thinking skills. Always have, always will…
Absurd. Atheists are the scientists. They are the most intelligent people on the planet. Bar none.
Religion is relegated to the most uneducated, ignorant and mentally deluded in society. The invisible fairies always hide while the mentally deluded do their bidding.
They are the most intelligent people on the planet. Bar none."
HAHAHAHA...if they are so smart why aren't they all rich and ruling the world?
Thanks, your post was fun to laugh at.
HAHAHAHA…if they are so smart why aren’t they all rich and ruling the world?
Thanks, your post was fun to laugh at.
Only in your twisted logic does intelligence equal rich and ruling the world. In your mind Mike Tyson is brilliant because he earned 500m. And in your mind, Saudi princes are brilliant because they inherited a throne with oil holdings.
No wonder you can be duped by something like a 2000 year old collection of fairy tales written by primitive men.
Yes, I do have a pony tail. Why?
It's because religion is a bunch of absurd magical nonsense.
Your opinion has been noted. Thank you for your contribution and now kindly sod off.
everyone in the more educated countries is losing their religion.
What does that make the US?
falling behind, as in everything else.
And sadly. Hopefully we can catch up after religion tanks.
Sorry but your faith is misplaced. There is no evidence that religion is going to go away for good.
There is no direct evidence that the drop in religion helps a society.
How can you misplace faith? Car keys, yes. Faith, no.
I put my faith in myself.
Well, not while religion is still a profitable industry and a easy means of manipulating people, it won't. It will continue to evolve, however, to match the secular morality of the times, as it has always done here in the USA. Of course, they'll take credit some day for ending h0m0phobia, like they've already taken credit for ending antisemitism and racial bigotry. Funny how fast people forget that such things were actually widely spread through churches.
Being Jewish, or even a Christian is great to hide behind,
Man flash a lot of cash he is a drug dealer,
Man flashes a Rolex and say God is God to me, and the world smiles.
Neither of them pays taxes on the goods they aquire
Maybe because they are not the real Jews.
Who made you the theological arbiter?!
U.S. Jews losing their religion.
That is the American way.
Dont worry! Got it from a reliable source they will pick their roots up again and real soon! Also fake no I don't believe in any religion will be converting too, not to mention their enemies! lol Then snicker with joy!
America is way behind in that category
Why do you make it seem like that is a bad thing?
Can you please point to any modern society that went atheist and it directly benefitted them? Keep "Correlation does not imply causation" in mind if you answer.
The article is about American Jews. Why do all the pictures feature ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel? Doesn't really fit with the article.
American Jews look like what they are – Americans. Nothing much to see.
What? We can't use exaggerated stereotypes and apply them to ALL Jews?
WHO CARES !!
It's "who cares?" not "WHO CARES !!"
maybe the "Who" that Horton heard?
It's "Who cares?", not "who cares?"
That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight losing my religion.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
Everyone around, love them. Love them.
Bill & Ted: "Be excellent to each other".
And party on, dude!
Someone mentioned on the blog previously what that song might be about. Some entries from songfacts.com:
The band claims this is not about religion and loss of faith, although the video is full of religious imagery. Some Catholic groups protested the video. The title is a Southern expression meaning "At my wit's end," as if things were going so bad you could lose your faith in God. If you were "Losing your religion" over a person, It could also mean losing faith in that person. Stipe told Rolling Stone magazine: "I wanted to write a classic obsession song. So I did." In addition to calling it a song about "obsession," Stipe has also referred to it as a song about "unrequited love" in which all actions and words of the object of your obsession are scrubbed for hidden meaning and hopeful signs. The lyrics pretty clearly support this: "I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try."
She's her own invention...
Religion is myth and folklore ... it's all BS and causes wars, conflicts. We will be better off when all religions pass. Peace
religions don't cause war, people using religion for their own purposes does. Christianity says "love your neighbor", the Ten Commandments stated "Thou shalt not kill". Do these things and you'll have a peaceful world. Don't blame religion
Well, catholic priests wearing little boys like aprons sure have managed to love their neighbors.
That's so funny in a way that's totally not.
You might want to check out all of the violence in your book of fables, the bible.
religion is often the catalyst for mobilizing the masses. you certainly can't discount its affects.
Religion is a bridge, but people have made it a wall.
"You might want to check out all of the violence in your book of fables, the bible."
You mean when God justly smooshes the lawbreakers?
Those who steal names are liars and thus can't be trusted. Why should I ever believe anything you say?
Things going OK with you, Topher?
Yes. And you are well, I hope.
I'm well. Anything interesting to you that you'd like to discuss?
Well, God. But I'd like to do it without a bunch of liars pretending they are me and giving ridiculous answers.
Here's something – I imagine you would say that God is a necessary being. Has to be one, no matter what. Is evil necessary? Is Satan necessary?
Tom, Tom, the Other One
"Here's something – I imagine you would say that God is a necessary being. Has to be one, no matter what. Is evil necessary? Is Satan necessary?"
Necessary in that I can't believe we'd be here without one. I can't believe we could have all the order we have and it was an accident. I can't believe nothing exploded, became everything and have order from chaos. And you can't have good without evil. Evil is what you have when you remove good.
I'm not sure about that: un-good is what you would have if you removed good. Evil sounds like something more active.
God as a necessary being: A lot of people have come up with ontological "proofs" of God's existence. Kurt Gödel came up with one that involved a systematic description of good, or positive things actually. Don't know if you'd like to go into that, Topher, but I was wondering if a systematic treatment of evil would work the same way.
I'm familiar with systematic theology, not the others. But what is it?
At least at one stage in his career Gödel believed that everything could be treated exactly and systematically – including religion and art. So, he came up with this framework (Wiki – I remember something more extensive, but you get the idea):
Definition 1: x is God-like if and only if x has as essential properties those and only those properties which are positive
Definition 2: A is an essence of x if and only if for every property B, x has B necessarily if and only if A entails B
Definition 3: x necessarily exists if and only if every essence of x is necessarily exemplified
Axiom 1: Any property entailed by—i.e., strictly implied by—a positive property is positive
Axiom 2: If a property is positive, then its negation is not positive
Axiom 3: The property of being God-like is positive
Axiom 4: If a property is positive, then it is necessarily positive
Axiom 5: Necessary existence is a positive property
Did he change his mind about this? If so, why?
He became involved in the study of subjective experience of concepts and thought – a kind of phenomenology. Actually, I think he would have gone over to model-based realism if it were around in the 70's. Why? He is best known now for showing the limitations of systematic approaches, even to mathematics which should of all things be most subject to that kind of thought.
That's actually pretty interesting.
Any progress on my questions, Topher?
Have you considered my request?
Predictable. Change the subject to avoid answering.
You've refused to answer me for 3 days now. Why should I answer you?
OK, Topher. I'll summarize the answers you've given me so far in the next few days. Then solicit the answers from someone else. You failed miserably.
As long as the pollster is acknowledging his shortcomings.
You aren't here to discuss anything, gopher. You are here to preach. At least be honest.
But Topher, you have become the new HeavenSent, the resident fool on the blog, are you not proud.
Why are you talking to yourself?
Topher's all right. He doesn't have the dishonest streak that other fellow had – the one who went on about William Lane Craig and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem etc.
But Topher has yet to provide the family tree from the Noah's Ark 8 that ballooned into 7 billion people or how the diversity of language at the tower of babel developed into the diversity of races in just 10 millennium or so. Stupid is.....
Link to full article below ...
"Let us start in the beginning with one male and one female. Now let us assume that they marry and have children and that their children marry and have children and so on. And let us assume that the population doubles every 150 years. Therefore, after 150 years there will be four people, after another 150 years there will be eight people, after another 150 years there will be sixteen people, and so on. It should be noted that this growth rate is actually very conservative. In reality, even with disease, famines, and natural disasters, the world population currently doubles every 40 years or so.
"After 32 doublings, which is only 4,800 years, the world population would have reached almost 8.6 billion. That’s 2 billion more than the current population of 6.5 billion people, which was recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau on March 1, 2006. This simple calculation shows that starting with Adam and Eve and assuming the conservative growth rate previously mentioned, the current population can be reached well within 6,000 years.
"Impact of the Flood
"We know from the Bible, however, that around 2500 BC (4,500 years ago) the worldwide Flood reduced the world population to eight people.But if we assume that the population doubles every 150 years, we see, again, that starting with only Noah and his family in 2500 BC, 4,500 years is more than enough time for the present population to reach 6.5 billion."
How do you account for current genetic diversity, Topher?
This can be a complicated topic, but I'm going to try and explain why a founding population of 8 humans doesn't provide sufficient genetic diversity to account for the observable genetic diversity in the modern human population. You may know that we have 23 pairs of chromosomes. You may also know that our genes come in variants called alleles. Generally speaking, we receive one allele for a gene from mom and one allele from dad. If you've ever taken a general biology class, you may remember filling in a Punnett Square to determine the probability of a child receiving a particular pairing of alleles to determine if the child would have brown or blue eyes.
What you may or may not have learned in a general biology class is that selection and other natural and well-known mechanisms act to limit genetic diversity. Selection filters functionality from among genetically diverse organisms, it doesn't generally produce diversity. Whether it's disruptive, directional or stabilizing selection, the result is less diversity in the final population than in the original. Add to this assortative mating which further reduces diversity. Finally, and most important in this context of a very small founding population, the inherent randomness in which alleles are passed to offspring produces genetic drift and frequently results in allele fixation. Fixation is where only a single allele is represented in a population, i.e. zero diversity for that particular gene. The following wiki entry provides some nice graphics depicting the results of genetic drift and time to fixation. Note the second inset graphic showing how small populations result in rapid fixation, i.e. a complete loss of genetic diversity for that allele:
Suffice it to say that natural selection doesn't produce diversity, it constrains genetic diversity; and, in light of the small population departing the Ark, this bottleneck would have invariably resulted in multiple fixation events and a significant loss of genetic diversity. Furthermore, the exponential growth curve offered by AIG fails to reasonably consider losses; losses which would be compounded by the lack of genetic diversity due to inbreeding and increased susceptibility to disease and infertility. Additionally, in comparing to modern population growth rates, AIG ignores the contributions of the relevant agricultural, medical and public health innovations which were unknown and unavailable in Noah's time.
"If that snake starts talking blasphemy, don’t listen. God wants more for you. And always has."
We learn as young children that snakes don't talk.
Those characters that hijack screen names lack integrity and ethical values.
Why would you give credence to anyone that is unethical?
But Topher you love us all the fake Tophers and want to bring us to jesus no matter on how much we spit on you, keep up your christian values, do not whimper, you chose your fate.
I blame the TV show "Ancient Aliens". They make a solid explaination for all this "God" stuff.
At least until that guy with the crazy hair shows up.
Gotta love the guy with the crazy hair!
It's a hair halo!!
Seriously? That show is like watching Bigfoot buffs laugh at Loch Ness Monster believers.
As a Jew myself, I've never believed most Jews to be extremely religious. In my opinion, even those that go to synagogue go because they like the tradition, and being with people, not because they are 100% certain there is a God, or that the Red Sea parted, etc We are allowed to question, to doubt. I believe, as the article eludes to, that most Jews are proud of the resilience of Jews and their commitment to education and family. I have also never put Israel ahead of the U.S., which I think is a false assumption. Of course, we care about Israel, but we are Americans first.
Austin, is that me?
Phony-Austin is an old-earther. *snicker*
AND is a Darwinist. hehehe
And is much smarter than we are. he he.
And holds science to the standard of a god, though still believes in things science rejects.
Fake Tophers are now out numbering fake HeavenSents, take a bow real Topher, you have become the ludicrous fool on the blog.
Fake-Austin: "I believe in things that are testable and repeatable ... except when it's inconvenient to my worldview."
Can you give examples of things he believes in that aren't supported by science and reason?