Oh Vay Religion or Race

So a friend posed a question to me about Judaism, whether it was a religion or a race of people, he had heard it refereed to as both. I have always thought it was a religion and that’s it but during my study in atheism I discovered atheistic Jews who took the teaching and values of Judaism but not God and afterlife part. So I looked it to see if I could get an answer.

It was largely split. One website stated that it couldn’t be an ethnicity because you could covert to being a Jew and you can’t convert to being white or African-American.  Also stated on different site was how offended the Jewish religious people were when congress recognized them as a race, saying it brought back memories of Nazi Germany.

Others bring up that Hebrew is a race and that most Hebrew people are Jewish, so somewhere the lines got blurred.

Humanistic Judaism identifies with the culture and philosophies within Judaism but do not value the belief in God.

I’m still not sure which is right if either. But I know I am studying Judaism as a religion and whether or not it’s a race is not for me to decide.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by godlesspaladin on February 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Personally, I like the distinction that many Hebrew people are Jewish, but not all Jews are Hebrew. To me, the idea of blurring the line between religion and race is very dangerous. Yes, they are both integral to a person’s identity, but you can change religions, you can’t change your race. Religion is comprised of various claims and views of the world that may or may not be correct, race is genetic.

    Because religion is comprised of ideas and concepts, it is ok to debate the merits of those ideas and criticize them in a way that would not be appropriate to criticize someone’s race. If you want an example of the danger of this blurring in action look at Europe. After the horror of the Holocaust countries all over the continent enacted laws regarding criticizing someone for their race.

    Some (not all) Muslims have figured out how to exploit these laws as a way to censor politicians/artists/journalists/etc by claiming that they are a race, not just a religion, despite the fact that the speech they are censoring is criticizing the ideas within the religion, not the race of the people who hold those ideas. The most ironic part of it is that Islam is by far the most ethnically diverse religion on the planet. There are more Muslims in Asia than there are in the Middle East…


    • That’s kinda the way I looked at but I do find myself looking at people and assuming they are Jewish based on certain features. I never really thought of it till now but I am being horrible to a religion and a race of people! :-S Hopefully I can now stop this and realize they aren’t Jewish they are of Hebrew background!


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