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Mordechai Kaplan is Smiling

Many people have been talking about the recently released section of the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, “Religious Beliefs and Practices.” (here) Iyov has written about it, and from a Jewish standpoint there are a few numbers which are interesting. If I could summarize what I read, of all the religious traditions in America, Jews are closest to Buddhists in their theological beliefs. For at least the first one, Mordechai Kaplan is probably smiling.

1. “Conception of God”: (p. 9)

Jewish
Personal God-25%, Impersonal God-50%
Buddhist
Personal God-20%, Impersonal God-45%

2. “Believe in God-absolutely certain”: (p. 10)

Jewish-41%
Buddhist-39%

3. “Religion is very important in their lives”: (ibid.)

Jewish-31% (the lowest of any affiliated group)
Buddhist-35%

4. “Attend religious services at least once a week”: (ibid.)

Jewish-16%
Buddhist-17%

5. “Holy Book written by men, not word of God”: (p. 31)

Jewish-53%
Buddhist-67%
Hindu-47%

I am sure that there is much more interesting information that I haven’t yet had a chance to see.

Update: Shmuel Rosner has some interesting comments on the survey in Haaretz.

2 Responses to “Mordechai Kaplan is Smiling”

  1. 1
    Harry P:

    It just goes to show that Jews and Buddhists are smarter than Christians. Seriously, I am not sure if Kaplan would be smiling. It is very difficult to determine if Kaplan believed that God was purely a human invention or that God, in whatever form, had an independent existence.
    In any case it is sad that Judaism and Christianity cannot respond to those people who have a spiritual sense but cannot believe in a personal God.

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:

    There is no such thing as “Judaism responding.” Luckily we don’t have a Pope to do any official responding. There are plenty of Jews who have attempted to formulate a theology which includes a impersonal God in general, and even specifically some sort of Jewish-Buddhist hybrid.

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