The Jew/Atheist Paradox

Nov 18, 2015

by Herb Silverman

When I recently wrote about Godless Jews, I cited a Harris survey that surprised a lot of people. The majority of Jews don’t believe in God. They are atheists. What makes this result even more interesting is another finding in a Pew Research Center survey on how Americans feel about different religious and nonreligious groups: Jews are viewed the most warmly of all groups and atheists the least warmly. Go figure!

Other than members of their own sect, evangelical Christians give Jews the highest rating. This is a case of unrequited love because Jews rate evangelical Christians the lowest, below Muslims. Not surprisingly, Jews and atheists regard each other warmly, while both rank evangelical Christians at the bottom.

Christians may not know that most Jews are atheists, but they do know that religious Jews believe Jesus was just an ordinary Jew with extraordinary delusions of grandeur.
And this rejection of Jesus inspired Christian anti-Semitism since the time of Jesus. So what has turned the anti-Semitism prevalent in my youth into today’s philo-Semitism?

Many Christians began deemphasizing certain biblical passages that contributed to anti-Semitism and perhaps even to the Holocaust. Less on Matthew 27:25, which says that the blood of Jesus will be on Jews and on their children. And less on John 8:44, the Devil is father of the Jews. Post-Holocaust Christians have concentrated more on Jews as “chosen people,” where God the creator/father says about Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” What these combined passages tell me is that God and the Devil are both absentee fathers. Thanks, dads.

It wasn’t until the late 1950s that I heard the term “Judeo-Christian,” meant to encompass perceived common beliefs of Christianity and Judaism. I found this phrase odd, since many key beliefs of the two religions are so different (think Jesus). And I’ve heard Judeo-Christian used only by Christians, not by Jews. If Christians wish to be inclusive of monotheists, why not refer to our “Judeo-Christian-Islamic” heritage? After all, Mary is mentioned more often in the Quran than in the New Testament, and the Quran asserts that Jesus was the result of a miraculous virgin birth.

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