Sunday, July 26, 2009

Five Reasons Not to be Impressed by Religious People

When prominent American Jews get arrested or are have found to have committed dishonest deeds (think Bernard Madoff), the first reaction of law-abiding members of the Jewish community is "what will the goyim (gentiles) think of us?" This reaction is a defense mechanism that has been instilled in us almost to the genetic level as a result of centuries of persecution.

But when I read about the five Orthodox rabbis in New Jersey who were recently charged with alleged money laundering and other crimes, and who were arrested along with corrupt public officials with whom they were doing business, my feelings ranged from indignation, to amusement and sense of vindication for my hypothesis that public corruption and religious officials often mix (See my Feb. 28, 2009 post "Corruption And Religion: Not Such Strange Bedfellows".)

Orthodox rabbis? and five of them at that? And according to the news story, there may still be more in Brooklyn who are involved? Sheesh, didn't these guys have to pass some kind of ethics test to graduate from the yeshiva? (Orthodox yeshivas do teach that stuff, don't they?) But then if you have an inherent sense of right and wrong wrong as do most humanistic Jews and other atheists, you don't need an ethics course. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when was the last time that you heard of a Humanistic or a Reform rabbi being charged with nefarious deeds of this nature or caught up in such a scandal?

So to my fellow Jews who might feel a sense of shame over what these rabbis did, consider this: If they don't care about their behavior and have no sense of personal responsibility, whose problem is that? Certainly not yours.


Alan said...

Another point that needs repeating: there's no necessary connection between religiosity and morality. Good post. I'm not surprised. Jews do it too (I cringed over Madoff and before him, Boesky in Detroit). But nothing tops child-molesting priests.



Secular Guy said...

The problem is of course that most Americans have been brainwashed to believe that religiosity and morality are two sides of the same coin. I wonder whether how long it will take to deprgram people from accepting this fallacy.