The Jewish Imperative for Church/State Separation

The Jewish Imperative for Church/State Separation

In a recent article for the Times of Israel, Paul Golin, the Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism (our parent organization!), celebrated Rosh Hashanah by explaining the need for American Jews to make clear our belief in science and opposition to religiously based government policy.

“Almost all American Jews accept the scientific method as the way to uncover facts about our universe. So why would I bother advocating for us to be loud and proud about not taking the Hebrew year literally?” Paul asks, “Because our religious fundamentalist neighbors need to hear it.”

Indeed, almost 4 in 10 Americans continue to believe in the Biblical creation story that God created humans within the past 10,000 years, although this number has declined over time. The religious fundamentalists who hold this belief have gained substantial influence and control in our government, and as a result, Paul observes that we’ve experienced “a rollback for progress on so many of the issues that liberal Jews care about, including reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, and public education.”

It is imperative upon Jews to defend our secular government and continue to defend our values. To do so, we must be vocal about our belief in science and our support of church/state separation, and we must make clear that Jews do not believe in the Old Testament as literal truth.

Instead, as Paul says, we ought to emphasize “the rich tradition of ongoing interpretation and reinterpretation of Jewish stories and law, which is how we come to a time when the Jewish community overwhelmingly favors gay marriage even as Christian fundamentalists cherry-pick lines from our Bible to continue the LGBTQ persecution.”

The Jews for a Secular Democracy initiative is singularly focused on defending the separation of religion and government in the U.S. and promoting science-based progressive policy. Click here to like us on Facebook and click here to read Paul’s full article.

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