Orthodox Jews More Like Christians Than Other Jews?

Friday, August 28, 2015 |  David Lazarus

Orthodox Jews are like evangelical Christians. They believe in God, vote, worship, act and raise their children more like evangelicals than like any other Jews. That is the revelation of a new Pew Research study on the attitudes of Orthodox Jews in America. Here are some of the surprising conclusions.

On Israel

The survey finds that almost nine out of every ten Orthodox Jews (84%) believe that Israel was given by God to the Jewish people. That is more than twice the number of other American Jews (35%) who hold this view. Among evangelicals 82% say they believe that the land of Israel was given to the Jewish people by God.

Orthodox Jewish attitudes towards the Israeli/Palestinian peace process are much closer to evangelical Christian views than to other Jews. Most Orthodox Jews do not believe that Israel can coexist peacefully alongside an independent Palestinian state. Orthodox Jews are less than half as likely as other Jews to support a state for the Palestinians.

Like many evangelicals, most Orthodox Jews support building Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Non-Orthodox Jews were much more likely than Orthodox Jews to say that building Jewish settlements in the West Bank hurts Israel’s security (47% vs. 16%).

Modern Orthodox Jews have a very strong attachment to Israel. Almost all of them say that they are very emotionally attached to Israel and that caring about Israel is essential to being Jewish (79%). They are also convinced that the U.S. is not supportive enough of Israel (64%).

On Politics

Similar patterns can be seen in Orthodox Jewish political views. Orthodox Jews and Christian evangelicals support the Republican Party (57% and 66%) compared to a mere 18% of non-Orthodox Jews who back Republicans. In the U.S. non-orthodox Jews lean heavily toward the Democratic Party.

Like evangelicals, Orthodox Jews tend to identify as Republicans because they hold conservative values on social issues such as homosexuality. Orthodox Jews are far more likely than other Jews to say that homosexuality should be discouraged in society (70% compared to 38%).

On Faith

Asked about the importance of faith in their lives, the large majority of Orthodox Jews (83%) and evangelicals (86%) say that religion is very important to them. Only one in every five of other Jews asked (20%) say that faith or religion have meaning for them. Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians frequently attend religious services (74% and 75%, respectively). Only 12% of non-Orthodox Jews go to synagogue at least once a month. Most modern Jews never go to synagogue at all.

The report shows that 93% of Christian evangelicals and 89% of Orthodox Jews believe in God with absolute certainty. Only 34% of all other Jews share this belief.

What does it mean?

The Orthodox Jewish community is growing far more rapidly than other, non-Orthodox Jewish populations. 98% of all Orthodox Jews will marry a Jewish spouse, while more than half of all other Jews will intermarry. Orthodox Jews will raise on average more than five-times as many children in their lifetime compared to all other Jews.

As the populations of Orthodox Jews continues to grow at a rapid pace, and the numbers of all other Jews shrink, there will eventually come about a shift in the characteristics and practice of Jewish life in areas of faith, social values and political views.

The similarities between the Orthodox Jewish and evangelical communities have been a source of inspiration to many pro-Israel Christian groups who are working together with the Orthodox primarily on issues concerning Israel. A number of evangelical pro-Israel groups are mobilizing support for Israel politically and financially while putting emphasis on the message of the Bible while strengthening moral and godly values in society.

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