Religious ‘Nominals’ Drifting Away From Mainstream Judaism And Christianity

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They’re rarely at worship services and indifferent to doctrine. And they’re surprisingly fuzzy on Jesus.

These are the Jewish Americans sketched in a new Pew Research Center survey, 62 percent of whom said Jewishness is largely about culture or ancestry and just 15 percent who said it’s about religious belief.

But it’s not just Jews. It’s a phenomenon among U.S. Christians, too.

Meet the “Nominals” — people who claim a religious identity but may live it in name only.

They’re proud — but not practicing — Catholics. They’re Protestants who don’t think Jesus is essential to their salvation.

And they’re Jews who say they belong to the tribe by way of ancestry or culture, not religion. Indeed, many miss the most fundamental divide between Judaism and Christianity: The Pew survey found 34 percent of Jews say it’s OK to see Jesus as the Messiah and still call themselves Jewish.

Written By: Cathy Lynn Grossman
continue to source article at huffingtonpost.com

20 COMMENTS

  1. I to was once a nominal catholic. I thought jesus was like a super hero. A kind character that didn’t judge you. I didn’ t care much about his cursing a tree for not giving fruits out of season, or saying things like bringing the sword. I thought maybe he was drunk or something :/

    • In reply to #2 by adiroth:

      Yet, the church and cardinals are leaching from these nominal believers by using their numbers as mandate.

      This is the nature of politick. opinion poll and census questions exploit equivocation in self perception and the nominals fall for it when they tick the xtian/jew/wossaname box. People should not rightly call themselves jews/xtians and the rest of it unless they have a definite belief in a theistic god, afterlife and all the trappings that go with their version of the myth.

      • In reply to #3 by Vorlund:

        People should not rightly call themselves jews/xtians and the rest of it unless they have a definite belief in a theistic god, afterlife and all the trappings that go with their version of the myth.

        See that Katy….that’s what I’m talking about right there….talk is cheap. Thanks to Vorlund for saying what I’ve been thinking (and I suppose saying) for a long time.

        On another note, I watched a BBC documentary about Gay pride in Tel Avid last night…if that’s not thumbing yer nose at Leviticus, what is?…it was spectacular, just like the Gay scene here in Catholic Spain…particularly here in Benidorm…is rampant the ‘wrong’ word? Tonight is the Christian and the Moors fiesta and all along the parade route one can see many a rainbow flag in the side streets from the Gay bars, clubs and sex shops…spectacular doesn’t even come close..

        • In reply to #5 by Ignorant Amos:

          In reply to #3 by Vorlund:

          People should not rightly call themselves jews/xtians and the rest of it unless they have a definite belief in a theistic god, afterlife and all the trappings that go with their version of the myth.

          Whilst this confusion about the nature of Scotsmen and how they identify themselves may be a ramp up to the barmy religious or possibly a securing cordon, it is also the ramp down to the sane for those with vanishing faiths.The ramp down served Europe and the UK pretty well through the last three centuries allowing a covert, personal dissipation of the primitive and superstitious (the shifting definitions of which have kept things moving.)

          Faced with a billion Muslims the possible majority of which need just such an escape route, I am happy to keep it…(for all the intellectual pain it causes me.)

          • In reply to #14 by phil rimmer:

            Faced with a billion Muslims the possible majority of which need just such an escape route, I am happy to keep it…(for all the intellectual pain it causes me.)

            That is fair enough I guess, let the silly think what they will as long is it is just thinking they stick too.

            But for the sake of debates on RDFRS, it is pertinent to point out that unless it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has feathers like a duck…and lays duck hatchling eggs, it is fairly safe to say it ain’t a duck…so criticizing such an entity is not duckaphobia no matter how many duck pretending chicken friends one has accumulated.

          • In reply to #17 by Ignorant Amos:

            In reply to #14 by phil rimmer:

            Faced with a billion Muslims the possible majority of which need just such an escape route, I am happy to keep it…(for all the intellectual pain it causes me.)

            That is fair enough I guess, let the silly think what they will as long is it is just thinking they stick too.

            That is fair enough too. I’d go a little further. As we are not the thought police it can only be behaviours we complain about…but behavioural deficits should be verbally culpable too, when normal civilised behaviours are expected.

  2. What really counts is how much they donate to the church. Once they disconnect they will tend to pick up the general culture and beliefs.

    I talked once to a Presbyterian minister in a giant stone church in the West End of Vancouver. He had a congregation of about five elderly women whom he excoriated for their sinfulness. I asked “How can you pay the rent with such a small congregation?” He said, “We paid off the church long ago. We have huge investments. We could go on forever without another donation.”

    • In reply to #6 by Roedy:

      I talked once to a Presbyterian minister in a giant stone church in the West End of Vancouver. He had a congregation of about five elderly women whom he excoriated for their sinfulness. I asked “How can you pay the rent with such a small congregation?” He said, “We paid off the church long ago. We have huge investments. We could go on forever without another donation.”

      I think part of the system is to ingratiate the churches with the lonely elderly widows, who have out-lived rich husbands, so they will then leave their inherited wealth to the church, as part of their pathway to heaven!

      • In reply to #9 by Alan4discussion:

        who have outlived rich husbands

        “If you want your cathedral, bishop, there must be a depiction of St. George, with resemblance to my late husband – oh, any old dragon will do.

  3. Gay people tend to have more disposable income that others, or better stated, a greater proportion of their income as disposable. This allows them to travel. If the word gets out that some part of the world is gay-friendly, it will get an influx of tourists. Business put out gay flags to capitalise. So suddenly, some sleepy little place goes madly gay. Ironically the general rudeness toward gays is what drives this.

    • In reply to #7 by Roedy:

      If the word gets out that some part of the world is gay-friendly, it will get an influx of tourists.

      About a year ago we had a thread here that brought up the possibility of having Atheist destination tourism. I loved the idea. Just think of the possibilities.

  4. No one lies about their religion like the Americans. Church attendance is half what American Christians claim for themselves. This deception meets a need, I suggest.

    It could be that this very young, extensive and mixed culture needs simple minded badges of goodness to be able to function. Whilst here, Sean Faircloth contributed an essential claim that should be made in favour of active atheism- that it is more likely to correspond to higher levels of a fuller and more evidenced moral due diligence. (This is a reasonable claim given the evidence of forums like these.) Promoting Active Atheism as a badge of moral betterness could increasingly supply what many of these people need, and more honestly too.

    • In reply to #13 by phil rimmer:

      No one lies about their religion like the Americans. Church attendance is half what American Christians claim for themselves. This deception meets a need, I suggest.

      These days, I’m coming over to the view that most of this pro-religious stuff is an elaborate and tribalistic form of moral self-deception. Cognitive bias and self-deception are motivated by the need to convince everybody that you have “beneffectance” – that is, you are both a moral and a competent being. Even more so, you and everyone around you wants to be seen as both moral and competent to potential allies (and to distance oneself from one’s enemies), regardless of the reality. One of the results is basically theodicy, but applied to people rather than gods: explaining away evil despite some humans (oneself included) being both moral and capable.

      The big selling point of religions is that they provide a platform on which one can affirm one’s good intentions, both to oneself (that one is not selfish) and to one’s group (that they are good people), but all you really have to do minimally is join up, maybe fork over a bit of cash, defer to an “authority”, and follow a few rituals that are less taxing than, say, doing active work for a relief aid organisation or thinking too hard about how simple-minded plans to make the complex world a better place might not work and might need more than generic “willpower” to solve. On this view, religion is provincial pseudoethics, mixed in with real ethics for extra obfuscation sometimes, but mostly there to serve the need to keep up a self-serving bias the better to pass off a good moral CV to outsiders. In short, religion is a badge that makes one look moral without actually making you deal with the hard stuff ethics really demands.

      Especially in this day and age. It’s harder to ignore the injustices and miseries across the world, and the media doesn’t help by accentuating the negative. It’s also noticeable that religiosity of a nation correlates with its lower social quality (such as poor economic strength and low equality), which while not conclusive is certainly suggestive. Under such conditions, an imperfect people wants the easily acquired moral reputation of being associated with a religion, but without necessarily working extra hard to do what seems to be the ethical thing. It certainly helps that most of the West seems to have bought the pro-religion propaganda hook, line, and sinker long ago, hence religions’ privileged position. Merely telling someone you’re religious would probably be enough to raise their estimation of your character.

      Hence you then get nominals, who take the even easier route of claiming the feel-good reputation without even doing the rituals or the belief-work. I’m not saying they’re doing this consciously – in fact, self-deception works when it’s unconscious – but it could be tested as with any other test of self-deception. Moreover, it’s hard to explain why you’d associate with a group without actually fulfilling the criteria unless you wanted something else from them. In this case, moral respectability by association.

  5. In reply to #10 by Smill:

    In reply to post 9. The elderly (and therefore lonely), male-generated-wealth inheriting widow?

    I had a great aunt, who (after spending some of it on world cruises), – at the age of 99 – having outlived her friends and close relatives, – left the money she had inherited from her brothers, to the church she attended!

    I also had a great-great uncle who was a mission church pastor in the US. Five of his six wives were rich elderly widows – all except the last of whom he had out-lived by the age of 93.

    • In reply to #15 by Alan4discussion:

      In reply to #10 by Smill:

      In reply to post 9. The elderly (and therefore lonely), male-generated-wealth inheriting widow?

      I had a great aunt, who (after spending some of it on world cruises), – at the age of 99 – having outlived her friends and close relatives, – left the money she had inherited from her brothers, to the church she attended!..

      Heck, if only you had been a bit more ingratiating…

  6. In reply to #7 by Roedy:

    Business put out gay flags to capitalise. So suddenly, some sleepy little place goes madly gay. Ironically the general rudeness toward gays is what drives this.

    I think you are being a bit cynical. The Mayor of Tel Aviv was one of the driving forces in promoting the Gay Pride event worldwide, granted, there was those within the Gay community that were critical of the motives, but sometimes one can’t win either way.

    If you knew anything about Benidorm and the holidaying culture there, I suspect you might reflect that you are being a wee tad more cynical than necessary. What has it come to these days? Gay folk crying because of their persecution has moved to the new point where the crying is because of a cultural embracing and acceptance of Gays, albeit for self gain by capitalist Gays on other Gays. I don’t get it…fortunately, over 100,000 Gays in Tel Aviv had a blast. The Gays in Benidorm are also having a blast…how is that contemptible?

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