Survey: Religious Jews twice as likely to fall in religiosity as members of other faiths

Survey Religious Jews t

By MATTHEW WAGNER, JACOB KANTER
October 20, 2009 23:34
2 minute read.

 
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The proportion of religious Jews reporting a fall in religiosity over the past five years was double that of people of other faiths, an international survey conducted in August and September reports. The survey was commissioned by the Elijah Interfaith Institute from a US-based pollster for an international conference of religious leaders gathering this week in Haifa that is focused on religious leadership. Poll respondents were men and women from the major faiths - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism - who defined themselves as religious. They were from all over the globe including Africa, North and South America, Europe and Asia. Jewish respondents were primarily from North America and Israel. The survey did not include haredim. Respondents were asked if they have become more religious over the past five years, or less. Among Jewish respondents 13 percent said they had become less religious, twice the proportion of any other faith. Less than half of the Jewish respondents (39%) said they had become more religious, compared to 57% to 86% from other religions. Among Jews, 65% said they believed Jewish leadership was important to their religion, compared to 86% among Christians and 79% among Muslims. Only 34% of Jews said they had a national religious leader. Only 59% of Jews who strongly identified as religious said they had a local leader. For those who did have a local leader, 84% had trust in their leader. Regarding satisfaction from leadership, Jews occupied the lowest place with 53% satisfaction with national and international leaders, compared with 66% among Christians and and 83% among Muslims. Similarly, in relation to local leaders, the degree of satisfaction among Jews was 69%, compared to Christians and Muslims at 75%. Only 71% of Jews found their local leader's message relevant. Jews had the lowest level of willingness to forgive their leaders and expectations of Jewish leadership fell much below expectations of leaders of other religions. The indications of low expectations repeated themselves. Both on the local and the international level, Jews had the lowest expectations from their religious leaders for involvement in peace work, social work, ecological work and interfaith dialogue. When asked about the appropriateness of the involvement of Jewish leaders, on the national level, in political life, the highest response indicating it was appropriate came from Jewish respondents: 59% of respondents considered it appropriate. Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, executive director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, said in a press release, "All facts point in the same direction. Jewish leadership seems to be suffering a crisis. When these facts are compared with some of the data relating to other religions, this might suggest one of the causes why Jews seek spiritual inspiration from teachers of other traditions."

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