Faith Digest

Faith Digest: Quarter of the world anti-Semitic, survey says

The first global study of anti-Semitic attitudes shows more than a quarter of the world’s population harbors intense anti-Jewish sentiment. Region, more than religion, shapes people’s view of Jews and Judaism, the study reveals. The 10 most anti-Semitic countries and territories, according to the survey, are the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco. swastika grafitti300Swastika painted on a wall. (RNS Photo courtesy of Minerva Studio via Shutterstock)The 10 least anti-Semitic countries, researchers found, are Laos, the Philippines, Sweden, the Netherlands, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Tanzania and Thailand. In the United States, 9 percent of those surveyed revealed anti-Semitic views. The poll is based on 11 questions that refer to common stereotypes about Jews, such as “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” and “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” Those who answered “probably true” to six or more questions were deemed to be anti-Semitic. Overall, 28 percent of respondents answered “no” to all 11 stereotypes presented of Jews when asked if they were true. The poll by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, also finds a large proportion of the world never has heard of the Holocaust or denies historical accounts of it. Of those polled, 46 percent either have not heard of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews or think it is a myth or exaggerated. Survey researchers polled more than 53,000 adults in 96 languages. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for most countries.

Atheists lose Massachusetts court fight over pledge. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the legality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, dealing a blow to atheist groups that challenged the pledge on anti-discrimination grounds. The court said the daily, teacher-led recitation of the pledge in state public schools does not violate the state’s equal rights amendment and is not discriminatory against the children of atheists, humanists and other nontheists. The loss represented a setback for a new legal strategy secular groups employed after a string of challenges to the “under God” phrase. Here, they argued “under God” violated the state constitution’s guarantee against discrimination rather than the U.S. Constitution’s promise of separation of church and state. Since the addition of the phrase “under God” in 1954, the pledge has faced repeated challenges. In 2004, one case reached the Supreme Court, but ultimately failed, as have all previous challenges.

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