Like Americans of all faiths, there is considerable variation in the religious beliefs and practices of Jewish Americans.
Just how much difference?
About one third of Jewish Americans (35%) consider themselves part of the Reform movement, according to the just-released survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. This movement regards Jewish law as a set of guidelines that can be harmonized with different cultures. About a quarter (26%) identify with the Conservative movement, where the term “conservative” refers to conserving Jewish traditions (not to political conservatism). Another 29% say they are “just Jewish,” referring to cultural and ethnic identity rather than religious practices and beliefs per se. Only 8% consider themselves to be Orthodox, with 1% saying they are Reconstructionist.
Like American of all faiths, religion is important in the lives of the majority of Jewish Americans. A total of 59 percent say it is the most important thing (5%), very important (22%), or somewhat important (32%).
Belief in God is a core belief in America, as we’ve discussed before, making the United States quite different from most other affluent democracies. Like Americans of all faiths, a large majority of Jewish Americans (66%) say they believe in God. About one quarter of Jewish Americans believe that “God is a person with whom people can have a relationship.” Forty percent see God as an impersonal force.
While not directly comparable, a recent Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans believe in God, with 12% saying they believe in a universal spirit.
Do you believe in God? Or a more impersonal force?
Is it possible to have a personal relationship with God?
How much variation do you see in your religious faith nationwide?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue.