Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 29–44 | Cite as

Secular Americans and Secular Jewish Americans: Similarities and Differences

Article

Abstract

This paper explores similarities and differences between Americans of Jewish heritage who profess no religion and the general population of Americans who profess no religion. The “no religion” group may be the vanguard of secularism. In degree of secularization, Jews and non-Jews of no religion come from different starting points and are on different trajectories. Data sources are the American Jewish Identity Survey (AJIS) 2001 for the Jewish population and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2001 for the general population. While the socio-demographic profile of a person who professes no religion in the general population is quite distinct (a young, single male who resides in the West or the Northeast), the no-religion segment of Jews is demographically much like the religious segment. One explanation might be the relatively larger share of “no religion” Jews in the total Jewish population so Jews professing no religion are not a fringe group. Another is American Jews’ unique social history and greater exposure to secularism.

Keywords

Jews Secular No religion Demographics AJIS 2001 ARIS 2001 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, Trinity CollegeHartfordUSA

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