Jacob Neusner, ed., World Religions in America 3 rd edition,

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1 THE NEW (AND OLD) RELIGIONS AROUND US Lay School of Religion Luther Seminary February 7 to March 7 Mark Granquist

2 February 7 - Schedule of Our Sessions Overview on American Religion Judaism February 14 - Islam February 21 - Buddhism Bahai Nation of Islam Hinduism February 28 - Latter Day Saints (Mormons) March 7 - Jehovah s Witnesses Christian Science New Religious Movements Krishna, Unification NRMs Scientology, Children of God, etc

3 Rationale and Our Approach America has always been the home of many different faith traditions. By now there is a bewildering array of religions (new and old) about us. Some are world religions that have come to our shores (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism). Others are religions developed in America and spread to the world (Mormonism, Jehovah s Witnesses, Scientology, and many others). We will try to understand these various religious groups in our midst, and a Christian reaction to them. Mark Granquist Associate Professor of Church History

4 February 7 Session 1 First hour - Overview of Religion in America Second hour - Judaism in America If you want to read a good general resource on these topics, see Jacob Neusner, ed., World Religions in America 3 rd edition, Louisville: Westminister John Knox, For this session, the best chapters would be 2, 4, 7,

5 AMERICAN RELIGIOUS SITUATION Reported or estimated religious membership Christianity - Eastern Orthodox 2 million - Roman Catholic 63 million - Protestant 100 million Judaism Mormon Islam Buddhism Other Total approximately US population 6 million 6 million 4 million 2 million 3 million 185 million 280 million

6 AMERICAN RELIGIOUS SITUATION Religious Preference reported by Survey (2003) Protestant 53% 148 million Roman Catholic 23% 65 million Jewish 2% 6 million Mormon 2% 6 million Other Christian 7% 19 million Other 2% 6 million None 8% 22 million Undesignated 3% 9 million

7 STATISTICS FOR NON-CHRISTIAN GROUPS Bahai 150,000 to 750,000 Buddhist Hindu Muslims 2.5 million to 4 million 1 million to 1.3 million 1.8 million to 6 million Jains 25,000 to 75,000 Jews 5.6 million to 6 million Pagans 200,000 to 750,000 Sikhs 240,000

8 BELIEF IN GOD S EXISTENCE National Opinion Research Center, No Doubt that God exists 64.4% Some Doubt 16.6% An impersonal Higher Power 8.4% Ambivalent-occasional 4.1% Agnostic- don t know 4.0% Atheist- no God 2.5%

9 MEMBERSHIP Do you happen to be a member Of a church or synagogue? (YES) ATTENDANCE Did you happen to attend church or synagogue in the last week? (Gallup poll, ) % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % %

10 How important is Religion in your own life? -Very -Fairly -Not Very

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13 Membership changes in Evangelical and Mainline Churches (in millions) Evangelicals S. Baptist Mormon Assembly/Go d 7 th Adventist Nazarene Mainline Methodist Because of mergers and Presbyterian different measures for Lutheran dealing with membership Episcopal within the Mainline denominations, there may Disciples be some differences in United accounting.

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16 Is America a Christian Nation? Very complex and controversial issue! Not in a legal sense Freedom of Religion and Disestablishment Yet Religion, especially Christianity is deeply intertwined in our public, social life The nature of Voluntary Religion - must organize, finance, and run your own Religion - Religion is divorced from national-social identity - Pluralism and the private nature of choice

17 Christianity and America Religion Founders of America religiously Deist - believe in one Creator God no miracles supernatural - Religion is essential a system of ethics - All Religions essentially the same same God Traditional religion in America makes its peace with this - organized religions will be valued in Public life, insofar as they do good works and teach a common morality Don t care what Religion you are, as long as you are Religious

18 Judaism in America Traditionally the religion of the Hebrew tribes of Israel -survived the loss of its own state 2000 years ago -has become a dispersed Religion/ethnicity within Christian and Islamic countries -its Monotheism and Scriptures the base for Western A scattered minority tradition until founding of Israel in subject to persecutions and terror -still more Jews outside of Israel than in it Approximately 5.5 to 6 million Jews in America

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20 Judaism in Colonial America Small Jewish communities in Newport RI, New York, Phildelphia, Savannah, and Charleston. Spanish Jews expelled from Spain, through Holland and Brazil German and Eastern European Jews Sephardic (Mediterranean) and Ashkenazic (Eastern European) Judaism cultural and religious tensions between the groups Small group, fairly well integrated into Colonial American world

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22 Nineteenth century Jewish immigration Early 19 th century - middle-class German Jews -educated and culturally assimilated in Europe Reform Judaism attempt to modernize and Westernize Judaism for the Enlightenment world -maintains the religious core while dropping the timebound culture (Medieval elements) -drops Kosher worship on Sunday In America, Jews finally had the opportunity to BE American (in spite of continuing discrimination)

23 Mass immigration in late 19 th century Pogrom and violent persecution in Eastern Europe -Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine Jews in these areas were peasant farmers and lived in small villages subject to repressive persecution Mass immigration of these Jews to US in late 19 th century Religiously very conservative and traditional -much tension between them and the more assimilated Reform Jews

24 Conservative and Orthodox Judaism More religiously conservative ( Observant ) of historical laws and traditions of Judaism -keeping Kosher, observing a strict Sabbath, etc Differences in strictness and scope along a continuum from Conservative to Orthodox Ultra Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism strict segregation between them and the outside world -living strictly all the laws of the Torah, as well as the traditions surrounding them

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27 Assimilation and Success in the 20 th century Many American Jews have taken full advantage of their (relative) freedom in America -great deal of educational, cultural, and economic success Especially by the 1950s and 1960s, a sense of fuller integration -idea of a Judeo-Christian American identity The horrors of the Holocaust, and the opportunities of the founding of the state of Israel in further immigration after WWII, and since the 1980s of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe

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29 Conflicts and Issues Is Judaism a religion, an ethnicity, or a culture? -who actually IS a Jew? What is necessary to be a Jew what about converts? - Messianic Jews, Buddhists, Black Hebrews, etc. Do you need to be religiously observant to be Jewish? - integration versus segregation The issue of inter-marriage and the survival of American Judaism - Is success killing Judaism in America?

30 How do American Christians relate? Lingering aspects of anti-judaism and anti-semitism - Christians standing with Jews in opposition Understanding the place of the people of Israel in God s world -Romans 9-11 and other Biblical passages -question of conversion Support for Judaism around the world, especially in Israel - conservative apocalyptic understandings - nature of religious freedom and respect

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