Setting the Record Straight on Judaism

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield has a list of “12 Things You Didn’t Know About Judaism” up at Beliefnet.

I’m waiting for the rebuttal: “10 Things I Hate About Jews.” (Cue rim shot.)

Anyway, here’s the non-detailed version of Hirschfield’s article:

  1. Judaism isn’t about being Jewish
  2. You don’t need to be Jewish to get into Heaven
  3. Being part of the Chosen People is not about being better than anyone else
  4. Once a Jew, always a Jew
  5. Conversion to Judaism is more a leap of belonging than a leap of faith
  6. There is no “Jewish Pope”
  7. Kabala is not a different religion
  8. Kosher does not mean “blessed by a rabbi”
  9. The hole in the sheet for sex is a myth
  10. The idea that Jews have horns is based on a simple misreading of a Biblical verse
  11. Chanukah both is, and is not, the Jewish Christmas
  12. Rosh Hashanah is not the beginning of the Jewish year, not exactly anyway

I wonder how many people here were born Jewish and still consider themselves Secular Jews?

And how many of you rid yourselves of the whole Jewish identity (if that’s at all possible) when you became an atheist?

(Thanks to Matt for the link!)

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    I don’t see how you could — or would want to — rid yourself of the Jewish identity. I’m “half Jewish”, that is my mother’s heritage is Jewish, but I was raised as a Christian. I still feel like I have a Jewish identity even though I have never been an observant Jew. I’m also half Lithuanian and I wouldn’t want to rid myself of that heritage either.

  • Valdyr

    The idea that Jews have horns is based on a simple misreading of a Biblical verse

    I don’t think this is true, otherwise the refrain of the timeless folk song In My Country There is Problem would make no sense.

  • ChameleonDave

    3) Being part of the Chosen People is not about being better than anyone else

    Not better in any real sense, of course; but it means that you’re one of the very few that the creator of the universe gives a crap about — according to the book your people wrote.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    I don’t really consider my self Jewish any more. I will take issue with number 3 also. The idea that Jews think they are the chosen people of God by blood is no different that the Nazi claim that the Aryan race is chosen by God by blood. The only real difference is that the Jews don’t expect everyone else to treat them special. They are just happy in their knowledge that God loves them best.

  • littlejohn

    This reminds me of the late Stephen Jay Gould, who referred to himself as a “Jewish agnostic.” I suppose I sort of get it, but I certainly don’t consider myself a “Protestant atheist,” I’m just an atheist. I suppose the Jews have a longer and more interesting history as a people than many other groups, which they don’t want to abandon, even if they lose their faith. But I guess I should ask a Jew. Anyone?

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    Being the “chosen people” is a curse, not a blessing.

  • BZ

    What I’m curious about is what religious Jews think about the Old Testament.

  • Dave B.

    A lot of people think that having Jewish heritage is a fun thing to bring up whenever the topic of Judaism comes up, like having Irish heritage on Saint Patrick’s day. For most people, it’s all about bagels and a few extra days off work, and perhaps avoiding the occasional shellfish.

    Personally, I was sent to an orthodox Jewish grade school. I was raised to believe that the best possible thing to do with your time at any moment is to study the Torah. I was taught that it was better to spend my day at home in the dark on Saturday rather than to use electricity at home for any purpose or take the car out to a family activity. Worst of all, I was taught to pray for several hours daily and try to connect to a god whose presence I never felt.

    Having grown up, my parents decided to antagonize my fiancee (now wife) and myself leading up to our wedding due to the fact that she isn’t Jewish. This has lead to a breakdown in my relationship with my parents. Of course, my atheism and rejection of the Jewish label weren’t sufficient to cause this breakdown because just like the author of the article, they feel that Judaism is an inherited trait. But God forbid I don’t pass it along to my unwilling children.

    I reject this label because of the harm I have seen it cause when used by bigots (both Jewish and not) who see Jews as a separate culture from the rest of society and because I do not subscribe to the religious beliefs that are inescapably linked to the Jewish label. If I’m wrong about that, somebody should tell the Israeli men who spend their Saturdays spitting on those who break the Sabbath that their religion isn’t really about their holy books after all.

    How many out atheists who grew up in Christian households would accept being identified with the sect of their parents? Are there any proud fundamentalist Christian atheists here? Any Baptist atheists? Catholic? It amazes me that anyone finds this acceptable. I find the attempts to saddle me with the Jewish label hateful and offensive.

  • Valdyr

    the Israeli men who spend their Saturdays spitting on those who break the Sabbath

    Wouldn’t spitting on people be considered work?

  • msr

    when i was growing up i went to synagogue every weekend, had a bar mitzvah @13, and the whole 9. but as i grew older, the hypocrisy became more & more apparent to me and i was no longer able to ignore it. i guess i woke up one day and realized that i had really just been going through the motions because that’s what i’d been taught to do. i was also really bothered by what i perceived as a very insular collective attitude by jews toward non-jews (the most vivid examples can be seen in any orthodox community). pretty disgusting behavior from folks who spend their entire lives with their noses in a moldy old tome that, among other things, teaches that you should “love your neighbor”… but what do you expect from a group of individuals who devote their lives to the study of a 2,000+ year old, mostly irrelevant, ridiculously anthropocentric scroll?

    i have no cause or desire to shed my past, and i hold so many of those memories very dear (i was very close to my ultra-conservative, old-world eastern european grandfather)… but judaism to me is no different than any other religion in that it’s based on a book that was written before people knew where the sun went every night. plus, the whole angry, petty, vengeful/loving/vengeful/loving creator thing is just a bit too silly for me.

    re; “coming out” (not as an atheist. i’m more of a naturalist/dysteleologist; i don’t believe that the universe has any purpose or “mind”, and that nature, in all it’s purposeless beauty, is all there is) — this for me was no problem at all, and really wasn’t an “event”. my family clings more to the tradition than they do to the religion. i do think though that my mom was a bit disappointed, but they’re all very respectful and don’t vibe me about anything, and i’m always respectful when participating in stuff like passover, mainly because it means so much to my mother and her memories of her parents.

    i have so much to say about this subject, but i’ll just leave it at that.

    thanks for the forum, hemant.

  • Dave B.

    Wouldn’t spitting on people be considered work?

    You’d think so, but it turns out work is better exemplified by taking your car to save a walk, flipping a light switch, watching a movie, or playing a video game. Being part of an angry mob is clearly the sort of restful activity the lord intended for our days off.

  • K

    I married a jewish-by-ancestry-not-by-faith atheist who grew up in a jewish atheist family. We don’t observe any jewish (or christian, for that matter) holidays or traditions but we DO offer kosher catering to our jewish clientele. that’s the extent of it.

  • thatguy

    3. You were chosen as special by the omnipotent creator of the universe over billions of other people. How could anyone ever say that that does not make them better than the rest of us? The rabbi is either lying or has not thought it through.

    4. I have had many debates with jews and nonjews who tell me that I am jewish. I have always said “show me any sort of physical evidence of this.” and they always back down.

  • Aj

    Mainstream Jewish movements reject the idea of chosenness as superiority. It’s quite clear that the Tanakh tells a different story, where Yahweh justifies racial superiority and separatist views. Of course Jews are no different to the other religions that ignore or reject scripture in this way. Religions incorporated myths about ethnicity, a culture is going to make themselves superior in their own myths, it’s basic human arrogance. Those beliefs can be maintained in ignorance, but today it’s not maintainable by the majority.

    Immigrants sometimes lose their identities and religion when isolated. If you’re immersed in another culture, in time you will lose your identity with your former culture. I think what the Rabbi means is not losing your identity, but he is referring to qualifying as a Jew in his eyes. Apparently if you were Jew, whatever you do, you still qualify as a Jew to him.

  • http://www.joshourisman.com Josh

    I consider myself both Jewish and an atheist, and I see no more contradiction in that than in considering myself both and American and a rugby fan. Whatever else it might be, Judaism is a culture that shaped the lives of my ancestors to the point of being instrumental in their coming to the United States (to avoid the pogroms of early 20th century Russia) and therefore of my even existing.

    I may not attend a synagogue, believe in any gods, or speak Hebrew very well (something that I’m currently in the process of rectifying), but I do study the Torah, not because I believe it to be the word of god or divinely inspired (or even historically accurate), but because I see it as an (somewhat fantastic… ok, extremely fantastic) autobiography of my people.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Being part of the Chosen People is not about being better than anyone else

    This is correct. According to Jewish belief (based on the teaching of the Torah), Jews are most emphatically NOT chosen because they are better than anyone else, nor because God loves them more than anyone else. They are chosen, rather, to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else – to help serve and love the world. In other words, it’s being chosen to help in a particular (and exceptionally difficult) task, not because God likes them more or because there is anything extra-special about them.

    And Donna is right, more often than not it’s been a curse, not a blessing.

  • DreamDevil

    4. Once a Jew, always a Jew.

    I’m pretty sure the only proper response to this is “Fuck you!”.

  • Dave B.

    They are chosen, rather, to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else – to help serve and love the world. In other words, it’s being chosen to help in a particular (and exceptionally difficult) task, not because God likes them more or because there is anything extra-special about them.

    Like when Tom Cruise sees a traffic accident and knows that as a Scientologist, he’s the only one who can help. Jews might not believe that they were chosen because they were better, but it’s laughable to suggest that being chosen by God to spread love and blessings throughout the earth doesn’t make them better.

  • http://marag.livejournal.com Mara

    Josh said it pretty well. I don’t believe in a deity, but Jewish traditions and culture are a part of me. I couldn’t stop being Jewish even if I wanted to. My language, my sense of humor, my very ways of thinking about the world are shaped by Jewish culture.

    There is a lot to respect in Jewish culture…and a lot to make fun of. And trust me, my Jewish atheist husband and I do a lot of laughing at the dumb parts. (You can’t use slotted spoons on Shabbat! Ha!)

    It’s not an easy thing to be a Jewish atheist, but over the years, as we’ve figured out where we draw the lines, we’ve found it very rewarding.

  • mcbender

    I was born in a fairly secular Jewish family and, growing up, I considered myself Jewish although I can’t remember if I actually believed any of the religious aspects (nor do I know if anybody aside from my grandmother did, and even she’s an agnostic now; her husband was an open atheist). I was fairly “religious” when I was younger in that I enjoyed going to synagogue and singing the prayers, up until the point of my Bar Mitzvah; after that I more or less just stopped caring, and I started calling myself an atheist soon after.

    I still consider myself culturally/ethnically Jewish (although, to meet me, you probably wouldn’t know it), and I still observe the Jewish holidays for tradition’s sake. My atheism is much more a part of my identity than Judaism has ever been, however.

  • Miko

    This is correct. According to Jewish belief (based on the teaching of the Torah), Jews are most emphatically NOT chosen because they are better than anyone else, nor because God loves them more than anyone else. They are chosen, rather, to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else – to help serve and love the world.

    Megalomania is megalomania no matter what excuse you give for it. In claiming themselves as the chosen people, they differ very little from any other primitive culture (primitive when the custom developed; not now).

  • Justin jm

    They are chosen, rather, to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else – to help serve and love the world. In other words, it’s being chosen to help in a particular (and exceptionally difficult) task, not because God likes them more or because there is anything extra-special about them.

    This part doesn’t really make sense to me. Why select a certain group to help serve/love the world? I imagine you will/could point me to a verse where it says that everybody is supposed to do that, but in that case why bother to select a group?

  • http://jessicasideways.com Jessica Sideways

    Well, I dunno about you but I identify as an ex-Christian simply to piss off the evangelical retards I have no choice but to interact with.

  • Aj

    …to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else – to help serve and love the world

    31:15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
    31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
    31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
    31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

    Way, way down inside, I’m gonna give you my love,
    I’m gonna give you every inch of my love

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    This part doesn’t really make sense to me. Why select a certain group to help serve/love the world? I imagine you will/could point me to a verse where it says that everybody is supposed to do that, but in that case why bother to select a group?

    Because it has to start somewhere.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    “This is correct. According to Jewish belief (based on the teaching of the Torah), Jews are most emphatically NOT chosen because they are better than anyone else, nor because God loves them more than anyone else. They are chosen, rather, to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else – to help serve and love the world.”

    Megalomania is megalomania no matter what excuse you give for it.

    Really? Do you really believe it is “megalomania” to feel a calling on one’s life to help others? If I say that I feel like God has called me to spend my life in love and service of others (which I do), not because I think I’m better than anyone else, but just because I think it’s what God wants me to do, does that make me a megalomaniac? If a whole people group feels that way, does that make them all megalomaniacs?

  • Autumnal Harvest

    According to Jewish belief (based on the teaching of the Torah), Jews are most emphatically NOT chosen because they are better than anyone else, nor because God loves them more than anyone else. They are chosen, rather, to be God’s agents of blessing to everyone else. . .

    This is certainly a standard modern Jewish belief, but I have trouble seeing how it can be taken as a plausible reading of the Torah. The God depicted in the Torah seems entirely uninterested in non-Jewish ethnic groups, except insofar as their behavior helps or hurts Jews. I’m not sure what major storylines in the Torah, or indeed in the later books of the Hebrew Bible, indicate that God is interested in them primarily as a blessing to other peoples. It seems to me the two most common storylines of Jew-Gentile interactions are (1) God orders the ethnic cleansing of Gentiles to advance the Jews and (2) God uses a Gentile nation to smite the Jews for their sins.

    This doesn’t say anything about Jews nowadays, of course. But I think it’s pretty clear that the authors of the Hebrew Bible did think God liked them more than He liked gentiles.

  • AxeGrrl

    Mike Clawson wrote:

    Do you really believe it is “megalomania” to feel a calling on one’s life to help others? If I say that I feel like God has called me to spend my life in love and service of others (which I do), not because I think I’m better than anyone else, but just because I think it’s what God wants me to do, does that make me a megalomaniac? If a whole people group feels that way, does that make them all megalomaniacs?

    I think individuals saying they feel they’ve been ‘called’ to help others doesn’t cause any kind of negative reaction in most people….

    but I think it’s the idea that a certain group claims to be specially ‘called’ that some people have an issue with.

    I think such claims/traditions exacerbate the human species’ natural (and unforunately, rampant) inclination to create ‘us’ and ‘them’ polarities. To quote Tammy Faye Bakker (yes, I’m serious:): “We’re all just people, made out of the same old dirt”

  • Neal O

    Mike Clawson wrote

    Do you really believe it is “megalomania” to feel a calling on one’s life to help others?

    What is that for an argument? Megalomaniacs may do all sorts of things, eat, drink, be good, be bad, help others etc. That’s are not the point here.

    Dictionary defines megalomania as delusion about one’s own power or importance. That seems to be pretty appropriate in Miko’s original context.

  • Neal O

    Once a Jew, always a Jew. This is so Hotel California

    “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”

    If you choose to join which is 5. then surly you can choose to leave?

    Also if you choose to join how come you can choose to be one of gods chosen????

  • Sanity

    Once a Jew, always a Jew

    I have an aunt who is as ethnically jewish as they come, but is probably a more actively and “devoutly” atheist than I am.

    She always jokes that the only things jewish about her are the nose and the last name.

  • Matt Johnson

    I am the person who contributed the original article and my intentions were not to offend and Jewish folk or to enrage any atheists.

    If you take the time to read the actual article, it is meant to show how Judaism is not the evil, self centred, mysterious religion that it is often portrayed as. It is actually about helping others and focusing on trying to be a good person.

    Did you know that they try and do a certain amount of Mitzvah (acts of human kindness) every year?

    I posted the article to Mehta in this context:

    I’m not saying I’m going to run off and sign myself up or anything (I’m as much an atheist as the next man) but this lot don’t sound like a bad bunch?

    The only Jews I’ve really had the pleasure of spending any time with were very welcoming and really helped me out. They only talked about religion because I brought it up and asked questions about it. They didn’t even try and eat my babies ;o)

    Why do they get such a hard time of it?

    I’m glad it’s sparked so much debate (one of the biggest responses I’ve seen on here) but the original intention was not to bash Jews or defend them, it was mearly to ponder on why such a kind loving religion could be the focus of so much hate over the years.

    I think what us atheists sometimes have to remember is, just because someone has a religious label attached to them doesn’t always mean they’re terrible, uneducated, dreamers living in the stone age. They are very often just good people trying to get on in this life.

  • Kahomono

    @Dave B. Are you me? ;)

    My parents pulled the same crap. What I have not shed from my Orthodox upbringing is cultural: foods I like, certain movies and books, etc.

    But this once a Jew always a Jew is not so much true in any absolute sense as it is a warning for someone who wishes to distance themselves from any of the more odious things about Jewishness/Judaism: They will not shrug and say, “live and let live.” You will be hounded.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    All peoples tend to believe in their status as specially chosen by their gods or fate. It is part of the innate tribalism of human nature. The Jews just happen to inherit theirs from a continuous and old religious tradition. At least some of them have enlightened their tribalism with a dose of humility. Meanwhile, Americans yammer on about the myth of their ‘exceptionalism’ and the delusion that they can ‘gift’ democracy to the world when the real goal is to export empty consumerism to exploitable markets.

  • Andrew

    They really are into that “once a Jew, always a Jew,” and I think the larger culture accepts that as well. Whenever I’m asked if I’m Jewish, I say “unaffiliated atheist, raised by Jews,” and the (obnoxious) response is always “Oh, so you’re Jewish.”

    It’s like I’m Michael Corleone or something. They always find a way to pull you back in.

  • ihedenius

    Paraphrasing Christofer Hitchens:
    ‘So is it true you thank god every morning you were not born a woman or a gentile ?’
    ‘No, not every morning …’

    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Liturgy_and_Prayers/Siddur_Prayer_Book/Preliminary_Readings/Who_Has_Not_Made_Me_a_Woman.shtml
    (“Morning blessings”)

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    The reason why Jews get a bad rap by Christians is that the Jews historically had the audacity not to accept Jesus as the true messiah 2000 years ago. Therefore for many Christians, Jews have always been a thorn in the side.

    P.S. I like Jews for many reasons, one being precisely that they do not recognize Jesus as the true messiah.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    This is certainly a standard modern Jewish belief, but I have trouble seeing how it can be taken as a plausible reading of the Torah…

    This doesn’t say anything about Jews nowadays, of course. But I think it’s pretty clear that the authors of the Hebrew Bible did think God liked them more than He liked gentiles.

    I was under the impression that we were talking about modern Judaism in this thread. At least, that’s what I think the Rabbi was talking about, and what I was referring to. I can’t speculate as to what Israelites 3000 years ago thought, but this is how most modern Jews think about it (as I understand them anyway).

  • Scott Turner

    The initiation rite for infant Jewish males is genital mutilation. It’s sanctioned and celebrated in every state. That’s hideous.

  • Miedvied

    Just to clarify that bit about not understanding being a “Jewish atheist,” as someone said the wouldn’t identify themselves as a “Protestant atheist.”

    Judaism is not (just) a religion. It’s an ethnic/racial group. You are Jewish in the same way that you are Italian, Albanian, Nigerian, etc. It is *also* a religion.

    You can give up the portion of your Jewishness that is related to belief, but you can not “give up” your Jewish heritage any more than you can ‘choose’ not to have been raised in an Italian culture.

    I am an atheist Jew. I have no religious beliefs, I don’t celebrate any jewish holidays, but have taken back the tradition of celebrating the Russian New Year (which is more or less identical to Christmas, except it’s on Jan 1st and sky-fairies aren’t involved.) I am also a Jew: my last name is Jewish, my relatives live in Israel, I love my matzoh ball soup and chalvah. I went to synagogue after school as a kid, can still read and write a bit in Hebrew, and have a circle of friends composed primarily of other non-religous Jews.

    Being an atheist Jew is like being an atheist Roman Catholic Italian. You can ditch the “RC” portion of the title, but not the Italian half. Except for Jews it’s not “RC Italian,” it’s “Jewish Jew.”

  • Aj

    According to Jewish belief (based on the teaching of the Torah), Jews are most emphatically NOT chosen because they are better than anyone else, nor because God loves them more than anyone else.

    I was under the impression that we were talking about modern Judaism in this thread.

  • Joffan

    The hole in the sheet for sex is a myth

    What, wait, there’s no hole in the sheet? Sounds uncomfortable…

  • aphanes

    ?

  • aphanes

    I really wish a mythical being loved me the most. I have to put up with second best- being hated by a bunch of ignorant christian creationists theists!

    PS Why set the record straight? I always thought records worked best if they were round? And now they’ve got rid of the hole in the sheets, will they eliminate the hole in the record next? Is there no limit to their evil plans to dominate the hole world?

  • Rostrum Camera

    I’ve got plenty of sheets with holes in if they want to swap them for sex. I’ve also got some holy socks, too, but I’ll want more than sex for those. Maybe we could negotiate?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Well, I guess this posting blows this steryotype away.

  • Michael

    I’m also a culturally-Jewish atheist. Interesting, I’m a member of both the Jewish Law Association and the Secular Student Alliance at UNC. One of my friends recently tried to convince me that I’m still Jewish by ethnicity and that there’s no conflict between Judaism and atheism. I tend to disagree. Judaism is a religion founded upon a belief in one God, Adonai Eloheinu (the Lord our God), and without that belief, it’s a culture, and I think it should be called such. I think there’s a difference between a Jew and a person who is culturally Jewish.
    I have to say, I’d probably be more active in the JLA if it weren’t basically Lubavitch. I can still do most of my congregation’s Friday night service from memory, and could probably do the entire thing if I had a copy of Gates of Prayer in front of me. So what am I? Who really knows.

  • http://dawkinswatch.wordpress.com dawkinswatch

    I am looking for Atheist who can tell me if Evil exists? I have looked at the achirves and I cannot see anything about evil?

    http://dawkinswatch.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/does-evil-exist-part-2/

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    There is a notion of “Evil” made popular by some Christians that there are actual demons populating the world that can attach themselves or otherwise enter a person and cause the person to do very bad things. I would assume that most (if not all) atheists don’t believe in demons.

    Some atheists would probably consider “Evil” as just another word for “very bad behavior”. I tend to view “Evil” as a little different. I view it as “very bad behavior” that is somehow dressed up as something that is somewhat socially acceptable (at least by some fragment of the society) or at least “legal” by some standard. Thus, “Evil” is sneaky, sometimes unconscious. People can be evil. Corporations can be evil. Advocacy groups can be evil. At times, whole governments can be evil. And religions can even be evil. It would be easy to make lists for each of these categories.

  • http://deleted Siamang

    From Dawkinswatch’s linked article:

    Now John Dee was the chief astrologer in the court of Elisabeth the first but he was a practiser of Enochian Magic and they used to invoke “angels ” during their rituals and in one of those sessions Dee drew up the angel they used to comunicate with , by the name of Lam. Does he not look like a grey “alien”?

    Nut. Ball.

  • JL

    Just to clarify that bit about not understanding being a “Jewish atheist,” as someone said the wouldn’t identify themselves as a “Protestant atheist.”

    Judaism is not (just) a religion. It’s an ethnic/racial group. You are Jewish in the same way that you are Italian, Albanian, Nigerian, etc. It is *also* a religion.

    You can give up the portion of your Jewishness that is related to belief, but you can not “give up” your Jewish heritage any more than you can ‘choose’ not to have been raised in an Italian culture.

    This. I’m a (half-) Jewish atheist. I’ve always been a Jewish atheist (my parents were atheists). I could no more stop being Jewish than I could stop being European-grab-bag or Native American (the components of my other “half”). I care about and engage with my Jewish heritage. I just don’t believe in the religion associated with it. It’s an ethnoreligious group – you can be connected by ethnicity, religion, or both.

    It’s not like Jews are the only ethnoreligious group out there. The Copts of Egypt are another example. I have a friend who is Coptic by ethnicity, but doesn’t follow the Coptic Church. He’s still a Copt, though – that is what his ethnicity is, and what his cultural background is, and it’s not like those get erased because he no longer follows the associated religion.

  • thatguy

    I asked this at the Belief.net article as well.
    Can anyone direct me towards any evidence of “Once a Jew, always a Jew”? Any sort of scientific paper showing common genetic markers between all Jews or something similar?
    Thank you,
    thatguy

  • teammarty

    I have a friend who calls the “European-grab-bag” of the last comment “Euromutt”

    I have Jewish friends who are strongly on both sides of the issue. One is strongly Jewish Atheist, with a religious jewish wife and a Jewish-Atheist Camp Quest attending daughter.

    Another friend is as far on the other pole as you can be and says that you can’t be a Jewish Atheist because being Jewish is a religious identication and how can you be Jewish and not believe in god?

    They are both good public speakers and I’ve always thought that they would make for a good debate.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    I am looking for Atheist who can tell me if Evil exists? I have looked at the achirves and I cannot see anything about evil?

    Religious institutions that protect child predators are evil. See, that wasn’t so hard.

  • Siamang

    Also, I am looking for nut ball who can tell me if grey aliens exist and if one may have been serving as the court astrologer for Queen Elizabeth I.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    @Siamang

    I posted my “evil” response before I clicked on his link. The notion of a grey alien serving as a court astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I seems less probable than a celestial teapot in an elliptical orbit between Earth and Mars but a bit more probable than all of the supernatural stuff in the Torah (just to keep this a bit on topic).

  • Miedvied

    @Teammarty

    The ultraorthodox don’t consider non-ultraorthodox to still be Jews. The orthodox don’t consider anyone other than themselves and ultraorthodox to be jews. And so on. But that doesn’t change the practical fact that there’s a Jewish culture, and you’re stuck with it even in the absence of belief.

    My practical, working definition of whether or not a person is a Jew is as follows: if there’s a significant portion of people in the world that would throw you in a gas chamber for being a Jew, you’re a Jew.

    That’s not as off-the-wall a definition as it may seem at first glance. Judaism defines itself *very heavily* by its suffering. I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a single significant Jewish holiday that’s not about suffering/punishment.

    Christians faint like Victorian dandies under the persecution of not being able to force prayer in schools; Jews get to call on things like the Holocaust. It’s the same “I’m being persecuted” hysteria, cranked up by actual validation by reality. So, if you’re a member of the baking-alive crowd, you’re already down for well over half of the Jewish religion.


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