Depessing news about American Jews: "Religion is not very important"

By Shmuel Rosner, Source: Ha'aretz

One can learn many things from the new PEW study on religion in America, but my interest is mostly the things one can learn about the Jews. What I like about the way this new study is presented, is that one can compare the different religions on various matters. Here are some of the things I found:

American Jews do not have as many children as believers of other religions. 72% of Jewish homes do not have children at all according to this study. This is probably due to the fact that many of them marry late (The dialogue with Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman can teach you more about this). And anyway, Jews are older: 22% are 65+, the second highest percentage of all religions, 29% are 50-64, again, second highest of all religions. At the ages 30-49 the Jewish community has the lower percentage of all: 29%.

We know that Jews make more money than people of other religions, and the extent to which this is true is quite impressive. 46% of Jews make more than $100,000 a year, Hindus are a close second (43%) but the next group (Orthodox) is well behind (28%). If one looks at education, it is Hindus first (48% with post graduate degrees) with Jews second (35%), Buddhists third (26%) and the rest well bellow.

The number of Jews who are absolutely certain that there's a god is fairly low, 41%. Only Buddhists and Unaffiliated have even less certainty. 10% do not believe in god, the third highest percentage (also third, following the unaffiliated and the Buddhists). Only 31% say that religion is very important to them, the lowest percentage except for the unaffiliated. 28% say religion is not important to their lives (again, only the unaffiliated rank higher). No wonder that Jews rank low on attendance of religious practices and frequency of prayers. Amusingly, Jews are like Buddhists in the sense that only few of them believe that their religion is the only true religion.

53% of Jews want the U.S. to be involved in world affairs (Mormons rank second with 51%, the rest well bellow). 47% are Democrats, second only to black churches, but only 38% call themselves liberals (39% are moderates, 21% conservatives). And Jews seem to be the most reluctant group when the role of government in keeping morality is discussed: 22% say government should do more to protect morality, the highest ranking group except for "other faiths"), 71% want government to do even less (again, second to other faiths).



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