Do American Jews believe in God?

The answer, it appears, is: sort of. According to newsletter put out by our congregation, survey data shows that 34 percent of American Jews are certain that God exists. Another 38 percent think He does, but are less than certain. 23 percent don’t believe in God, and 5 percent don’t know.

Conservative Jews (in the religious, not the political, sense) have more faith. 41 percent are certain God exists; 46 percent believe He does but aren’t certain. Only 9 percent are atheists.

Our Conservative congregation, though, is more skeptical than the national average for all Jews. A survey of members found that only 21 percent of our congregants are certain of God’s existence. 55 percent believe but are uncertain. 17 percent do not believe in God.

The newsletter speculates that the congregation’s skepticism is due to its high level of educational achievement. It says studies show “that people with higher levels of education are less likely to believe in God or at least have more nuanced views.”

Another explanation might be that our congregation, located in an affluent Washington, D.C. suburb, is populated overwhelmingly by liberals. Indeed, if the political views of congregants were surveyed, I suspect that upwards of 80 percent would express certainty about the main tenets of liberalism and “social justice.” In other words, liberalism and “social justice” would outpoll God.

Norman Podhoretz was on to something when he argued that liberalism, not Judaism, is the religion of American Jews (the Orthodox excluded).

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