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I’m taking a look at the preliminary findings of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life US Religious Landscape survey. (You can download it as a .pdf file here.) This survey showed that 69% of Jews were in-married and 31% reported being married to a person of a different religious background. The Pew Forum reporters couldn’t gauge the importance of this intermarriage for any of the religions.
Another interesting statistic: 95% of Jews identify as white, 1% as Black, 0 as Asian, 2% as Other/Mixed Race, and 3% as Latino. Responses to this question confirmed my impression that the face of the Jewish community in the US is changing. (The numbers could be much higher–the survey reflects who was at home to answer the phone.)
One reason why the Pew Forum undertook the study is that the US Census can only ask voluntary questions about religion, and has not opted to ask individual respondents about their religious affiliation. The US Census only collects economic data on places of worship in various counties. This is probably a good choice. In Britain, when the government added a question about religious affiliation, >390,000 people listed their religion as Jedi Knight, more than were willing to say they were Jewish. Yes, it was because of a write in campaign.
The Pew Forum survey was based on over 35,000 random direct dialed phone calls, so data might not be perfectly reliable, but there were fewer opportunities for people to affiliate with Luke Skywalker. In any case, we in the US take religion a lot more seriously than that. Even among the self-identified unaffiliated in the US, nearly half of respondents said that religion was somewhat or very important in their lives.
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