America's Religious Recession

It’s not just Jews—nearly all American faiths are in decline. Could this mean a boom is right around the corner?

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Nov. 13 2014
About the author

Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. His many books include American Judaism: A History and the forthcoming Lincoln and the Jews: A History (with Benjamin Shapell).


Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen fear that the American Jewish community is going to hell in a handbasket. And the news they bring in “The Pew Survey Reanalyzed” is grim: “relentless growth in rates of intermarriage”; “falling birthrates”; “a striking decline in Jewish activity or commitment among those under the age of fifty.” Their reading of the evidence is commensurately stark: “American Jews, whatever [comforting] stories they continue to tell about themselves, no longer constitute a great community.”

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More about: American Jewry, American Religion, Christianity, Decline of religion