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Jewish Atheists

For Atheists of Jewish origin and others interested in Jewish history and culture.

Members: 81
Latest Activity: Apr 14

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Letting go of Israel, or The Self-Loathing Jew

Started by Diana D. Last reply by Alan Perlman Apr 15, 2013. 21 Replies

Am I Still Jewish?

Started by Cecilia. Last reply by Michael Pianko Mar 20, 2013. 14 Replies

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Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 1:19am
Ralph, I have another question for you - does this atheistic anti-semitism you speak of only come from atheists who are ex-Christians? I wonder if anti-semitism is part and parcel of some flavors of Christianity, so maybe they haven't fully left the Christian part of themselves behind when they became atheists? I wonder if there's such a thing as anti-semitism in other cultures like in non-Christian places outside of the Middle East like in India.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on October 26, 2009 at 1:16am
I could give many examples, but I suggest you begin with a Facebook group called "Fuck Judaism". Aside from being infantile, it's full of vile slanders against Jews.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on October 26, 2009 at 1:14am
Maybe a discussion thread should be started. I mean attacking the character of Jews, not just Judaism as a religion. There is a history of atheist anti-Semitism, from the magazine The Truth Seeker to the O'Hairs. Secondly, a substantial percentage of ex-Christians even today out to get revenge on Biblical religion are pretty damn ignorant of the history of either the Jewish people or religion, and lack the curiosity about anybody in the world besides themselves.
Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 1:14am
Sorry, I meant "Atheists coming from Judaism," that's the line I saw.
Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 1:12am
It just occurred to me, if this group is described on this website as "Atheists from Judaism" then seems to be this group should be called something more like Atheist Ex-Jews, not Jewish Atheists. Somebody made a mistake somewhere.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on October 26, 2009 at 1:11am
I don't know what the group founder intended, but clearly that is not an inclusive description. "Jewish atheists" should be defined as coming from the Jewish people, and one could add "or the Jewish religion". But actually, I don't even like such descriptions. I think all national and ethnic groups should add a proviso "and all who are knowledgeable or have an investment in this topic." If people come into these groups to disrupt them, hopefully they can be thrown out.
Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 1:08am
Ralph, how do you mean, anti-Semitism among atheists? How exactly does tat manifest itself? In the sense of being opposed to all religion or theism, that wouldn't be anti-semitism.
Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 1:05am
By the way, I just checked my page on this website, and a line on that page described this group as "Atheists coming from Judaism." Well, having grown up in Humanistic Judaism I'm both (religion) Atheist and (ethnic/culture) Jewish, so that description is inaccurate. Anybody want to correct that description of this group? If that's an accurate description of this group, then suddenly I feel unwelcome. Maybe I too hastily joined the wrong group and I need to switch from Jewish Atheists to Humanistic Jews after all? Now I see why maybe there are two groups on this website, Jewish Atheists and Humanistic Jews.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on October 26, 2009 at 12:47am
I know a few of the people in Machar, but I know little of the split in DC.

You are correct about O'Hair and angry ex-Christians.

One might also bring up the question of anti-Semitism among atheists.
Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 12:40am
Hello Everyone!

I just joined Atheist Nexus tonight, I did an internet search on gay atheists and found a group for gay atheists on this website. I thought I was joining that group, directly, but then realized I had joined a general website for atheists and still hadn't joined that group, so I joined that group after joining this website, again!

Now that I've joined, I'm looking around further, and to my surprise I see a group for Jewish Atheists. So I've joined this group too, and hello to all! :-)

I grew up in the Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, MI where Humanistic Judaism was founded. At present I'm not a member of that temple or any other. I will always identify with Humanistic Judaism but have no desire to be part of any group where I don't have direct access without a notetaker or an ASL interpreter. (I recently joined a Meetup.com group for Gay Atheists in MI, it's still a small group, so I'll see how it goes when I first meet them at their next meeting next month). In general though pretty much any group that requires that for me is by my definition too high maintenance.

When I first went to college, I joined American Atheists for about 10 years, but I finally came to realize that AA was really only for atheists from Christian backgrounds. The final straw came when Madalyn O'Hair told AA members that if they weren't from a Christian background, to get the hell out of AA. This appeared in a booklet from AA authored by Madalyn that I had ordered, it described what she thought the ideal atheist was like. When I saw that, I was really shocked, I thought I had been really punched in the face. This was in my 10th year as a member, I hadn't seen that particular sentiment from Madalyn before. Atheists who had other backgrounds or concerns that differed from hers, get out!

I finally realized that I was really looking for an atheistic view of Judaism from outside Judaism, and had been frustrated for a long time that articles coming out of AA seemed to look only from an angry ex-Christian point of view and nothing that really spoke directly on Judaism from an atheist point of view. Madalyn felt angry, but I never felt that same level of anger because she was really rebelling against her Christian upbringing, while I grew up in Humanistic Judaism and never felt any identical feeling of rebelling against Humanistic Judaism. I never saw that anger for what it was for a long time because I only saw the word 'atheist' and I guess it took me a while, perhaps not even until I read that booklet, to see deeper than that, that it was more about her being lied to during the Christian phase of her life. I was never lied to by my family or my rabbi.

In the real world I don't really have any friends who are atheist, and perhaps this website or the above Meetup group will help to change that. My friends are largely secular, or Christian mostly in name. When I connect with others it's because of other things I like about them. I do have two friends who are evangelical Christians, I've been very careful to keep my real beliefs out of the way because in other ways I really like them. They both know that I'm Jewish, and I leave it at that, never explaining that I'm an ethnic/cultural Jew only, that I'm an atheist. Maybe that comes easier to me given that I spent part of my life in the closet as a gay man, and at work I continue to keep my sexuality in the closet because I feel that I have enough issues to worry about as a deaf person. The day when I'll be able to be open about all parts of myself, including the atheist part, probably won't happen until I'm fully retired and no longer have to worry about maintaining my ability to be gainfully employed.

I see that there is another group called Humanist Jews in addition to this group, with four members. What's that all about? There was once a Humanistic Judaism congregation in DC that was destroyed because half the group placed humanistic values first before Judaism and the other placed Judaism before humanistic values (I'm in the former camp; the latter actually sounds more like Reform). I hope this isn't something similar happening on this website!

Anyway, it''s nice to meet everybody here! :-)

(Funny I should introduce myself in this group first, when it was the gay atheist group that was the reason for me in joining this website in the first place!)

Eric
 

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