Religion & Beliefs

Facebook Asks: Are You Religious?

Yesterday facebook had one of its daily surveys ask “Are you religious?” The majority of the 1000 respondents said no. You can look over the stats here, and see the breakdown of how many men and women answered, how old … Read More

By / August 30, 2007
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Yesterday facebook had one of its daily surveys ask “Are you religious?” The majority of the 1000 respondents said no. You can look over the stats here, and see the breakdown of how many men and women answered, how old the respondents were and so on. (You may have to sign in to facebook to see this info—I’m not sure). I didn’t respond to the question myself (I didn’t even find out about it until a friend emailed me) but it really annoys me. It annoys me first because it’s completely ambiguous. It’s not like it’s easy to pin down what “religious” means, especially when for a lot of people it’s more a state of mind than anything else, and thus fairly difficult to measure. And if it’s about observancy then you have the problem of where exactly you draw the line—in Judaism does it mean attending synagogue/Temple? Keeping Shabbat/Kosher? Marrying a Jew? Who decides? But beyond that, I don’t like it because it seems like it just feeds into this whole thing of America dividing itself between religious whackjobs and Godless heathens. And the last thing I need is someone else trying to tell me why God can’t possibly exist. Facebook surveys are hardly comprehensive, scientific or nuanced in any way, and I can’t imagine facebook would have any objections to that statement. Still, I see the survey as indicative of a larger problem: people define themselves by their religious identity in a way that’s no good for anyone. Being Jewish is a big part of my life, but it’s not now and has never been the way I introduce myself to people. Even in my work here at Jewcy it’s important to me that people see that I do plenty of non-Jewish things, I have non-Jewish friends, and listen to punk music and generally balance the Jewish world with the non-Jewish world in a way that works for me. I just don’t like to see any population divided into bar graphs of religious and not religious. You know what I just realized? I mostly don’t like it because it reminds me of life in Israel.