Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Things Are Not What They Seem 


     A recent poll of Jewish Americans indicates that more and more Jews are leaving Judaism for various reasons and that there is little chance, if this trend continues, that American Judaism can survive much longer.

      The secularization of the Jewish community has been developing for some years and is a reflection of the secularization of the U.S.A., which also affects the majority religion.

       At least one reason for this development is to be found in the very structure of American religious institutions which have largely become alternative status systems subsequent to the rise of self perpetuating oligarchies within congregations of all denominations.

       The word “oligarchy” is Greek and means “the rule of the few.” This is now generally found in almost any congregation, as a few have seized the congregation as they use it to enhance their self image by self promotion at the expense of the vast majority who have no part in the activities of any of these sects.

        For example, the “elite” are constantly standing up during the weekly prayer services so as to be seen. They walk about in the aisles and talk to the clergy so as to show they are “in” while the common herd sits there and constitutes a backdrop to the antics of the ruling class.

     In this scheme there are the “ins” and the “outs,” resembling high school arrangements. The “outs” are expected to pay “dues” but are greeted with abject hostility best described as having the status of “a skunk at a picnic.”

      The function of treating some devotees with hostility is to ensure that the accepted “in-group” can view itself favorably. Obviously, no one is “in” unless someone else is “out.” Therefore, the “in group” depends on designating someone as the “out” group.

       The “outs” may be immigrants or those who contribute less than others or those who give the “ins” competition. Particularly those who have achieved a great deal in the secular world promote the wrath of the congregation “bosses” who cannot tolerate achievements of others.

     Of course, institutions other than religion are also subject to this kind of tension. Yet, it is most egregious within religious denominations because they advertise that “all are welcome,” which, when put to the test, reveals that “things are not what they seem.”

     Every congregation has occasional visitors who recognize the state of affairs just outlined. Such visitors seldom return because they don’t want to join those devoted to status jealousies. Furthermore, there are many who were once members but left their original “spiritual home” so as to escape the politics inherent in these arrangements.

     Nothing can be done to change this. It is a function of the need for recognition which drives its practitioners, no matter what the consequences.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Assassination, Anarchy, & Terrorism (2012).

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