Ethnoreligious group

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Yazidi girls in traditional dress Yazidi Girl tradicional clothes.jpg
Yazidi girls in traditional dress

An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group whose members are also unified by a common religious background.

Ethnic group Socially defined category of people who identify with each other

An ethnic group, a people group, a people, or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry or on similarities such as common language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is often used synonymously with the term nation, particularly in cases of ethnic nationalism, and is separate from but related to the concept of races.

Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Contents

Defining an ethnoreligious group

In general, ethnoreligious communities define their ethnic identity not only by ancestral heritage nor simply by religious affiliation but normally through a combination of both. An ethnoreligious group has a shared history and a cultural tradition – which can be defined as religious – of its own. In many cases ethnoreligious groups are ethno-cultural groups with a traditional ethnic religion; in other cases ethnoreligious groups begin as communities united by a common faith which through endogamy developed cultural and ancestral ties. [1] [2] The legal assignment what is an ethnoreligious group can differ from the above given definition.

An ancestor is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an antecedent. Ancestor is "any person from whom one is descended. In law the person from whom an estate has been inherited."

Ethnic religion religion defined by the ethnicity of its adherents

In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often distinguished from universal religions which claim to not be limited in ethnic or national scope, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Jainism. Ethnic religions are not only independent religions. Some localised denominations of global religions are practised solely by certain ethnic groups. For example, the Assyrians have a unique denominational structure of Christianity known as the Assyrian Church of the East.

Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific social group, caste or ethnic group, rejecting those from others as unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships.

Some ethnoreligious groups' identities are reinforced by the experience of living within a larger community as a distinct minority. Ethnoreligious groups can be tied to ethnic nationalism if the ethnoreligious group possesses a historical base in a specific region. [3] In many ethnoreligious groups emphasis is placed upon religious endogamy, and the concurrent discouragement of interfaith marriages or intercourse, as a means of preserving the stability and historical longevity of the community and culture.

In sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. Minority group membership is typically based on differences in observable characteristics or practices, such as: ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity. Utilizing the framework of intersectionality, it is important to recognize that an individual may simultaneously hold membership in multiple minority groups. Likewise, individuals may also be part of a minority group in regard to some characteristics, but part of a dominant group in regard to others.

Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethno-nationalism, is a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity.

Examples

Ethnic fusionEthnic religionReligious ethnicity

The Jewish case

Prior to the Babylonian exile the Israelites had already emerged as an ethnoreligious group, probably before the time of Hosea. [34]

Israelites people

The Israelites were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods. According to the religious narrative of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites' origin is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham and his wife Sarah, through their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and their son Jacob who was later called Israel, whence they derive their name, with his wives Leah and Rachel and the handmaids Zilpa and Bilhah.

Hosea biblical character

In the Hebrew Bible, Hosea, son of Beeri, was an 8th-century BC prophet in Israel who authored the book of prophecies bearing his name. He is one of the Twelve Prophets of the Jewish Hebrew Bible, also known as the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise of restoration. The Talmud claims that he was the greatest prophet of his generation. The period of Hosea's ministry extended to some sixty years and he was the only prophet of Israel of his time who left any written prophecy.

Since the 19th century Reform Judaism has adopted theology that differs from traditional Judaism, although in recent years the reform movement has readopted some traditional practices. By the end of the 20th century the reform movement had become dominant in the United States.[ citation needed ] In the United States rising mixed marriage rates has led to attempts to facilitate conversion of the spouse. Despite conversion in order to facilitate marriage being strongly discouraged by traditional Jewish law. [35] If the spouse does not convert the reform movement will recognize paternal descent. Traditional Jews only recognizes descent along the maternal line. Many children of mixed marriages do not identify as Jews and the reform movement only recognizes children of mixed marriages as Jewish if they "established through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people." [36]

Reform Judaism Denomination of Judaism

Reform Judaism is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, the superiority of its ethical aspects to the ceremonial ones, and a belief in a continuous revelation, closely intertwined with human reason and intellect, and not centered on the theophany at Mount Sinai. A liberal strand of Judaism, it is characterized by a lesser stress on ritual and personal observance, regarding Jewish Law as non-binding and the individual Jew as autonomous, and openness to external influences and progressive values. The origins of Reform Judaism lie in 19th-century Germany, where its early principles were formulated by Rabbi Abraham Geiger and his associates; since the 1970s, the movement adopted a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than strict theoretical clarity. It is strongly identified with progressive political and social agendas, mainly under the traditional Jewish rubric Tikkun Olam, or "Repairing of the World". Tikkun Olam is a central motto of Reform Judaism, and action for its sake is one of the main channels for adherents to express their affiliation. The movement's greatest center today is in North America.

Since the mid 1960s Israeli national identity has become inexorably linked with Jewish identity. [37] [38] In recent years some anti-Zionists have adopted a variety of theories intent on proving that contemporary Jews are descendants of convert, which in their view would render Zionism a form of modern irrational racism, while at the same time severing Jewish ties to the Land of Israel. [39] In Israel Jewish religious courts have authority over personal status matters which has led to friction with secular Jews who sometimes find they must leave the country in order to marry or divorce. Particularly relating to the inherited status of mamzer, the marriage of males from the priestly line, persons not recognized as Jewish by the rabbinate and agunot. The Israeli rabbinate only recognizes certain approved Orthodox rabbis as legitimate which has led to friction with Diaspora Jews who for centuries never had an overarching authority.

Zionism Movement that supports the creation of a Jewish homeland

Zionism is the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel. Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement, both in reaction to newer waves of antisemitism and as an imitative response to other nationalist movements. Soon after this, most leaders of the movement associated the main goal with creating the desired state in Palestine, then an area controlled by the Ottoman Empire.

In the Hebrew Bible and Jewish religious law, a mamzer is a person born from certain forbidden relationships or from incest, or the descendant of such a person. Mamzer status is not synonymous with illegitimacy, since it does not include children whose mothers were unmarried.

Agunah is a halakhic term for a Jewish woman who is "chained" to her marriage. The classic case of this is a man who has left on a journey and has not returned, or has gone into battle and is MIA. It is used as a borrowed term to refer to a woman whose husband refuses, or is unable, to grant her a divorce document in Jewish religious law, known as a get.

The Anabaptist case

Other classical examples for ethnoreligious groups are traditional Anabaptist groups like the Old Order Amish, the Hutterites, the Old Order Mennonites and traditional groups of German speaking Mennonites from Russia, like the Old Colony Mennonites. All these groups have a shared German background, a shared German dialect as their every day language (Pennsylvania German, Hutterisch, Plautdietsch) and a shared version of their Anabaptist faith, a shared history of several hundred years and they have accepted very few outsiders into their communities in the last 250 years. Modern proselytizing Mennonite groups, like e.g. the Evangelical Mennonite Conference whose members have lost their shared ancestry, their common ethnic language Plautdietsch, their traditional dress and other typical ethnic traditions, are not seen as ethnoreligious groups anymore. [40] [41]

Australia

In Australian law, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 of New South Wales defines "race" to include "ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin". [42] The reference to "ethno-religious" was added by the Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 (NSW). [43] John Hannaford, the NSW Attorney-General at the time, explained, "The effect of the latter amendment is to clarify that ethno-religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims and Sikhs, have access to the racial vilification and discrimination provisions of the Act.... extensions of the Anti-Discrimination Act to ethno-religious groups will not extend to discrimination on the ground of religion". [7] [8]

The definition of "race" in Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) likewise includes "ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin". [44] However, unlike the NSW Act, it also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of "religious belief or affiliation" or "religious activity". [45]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the landmark legal case Mandla v Dowell-Lee placed a legal definition on ethnic groups with religious ties, which, in turn, has paved the way for the definition of an ethnoreligious [46] group. Both Jews [11] [12] [13] and Sikhs [47] [48] [49] were determined to be considered ethnoreligious groups under the Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 (see above).

The Anti-Discrimination (Amendment) Act 1994 made reference to Mandla v Dowell-Lee, which defined ethnic groups as:

  1. a long shared history, of which the group is conscious as distinguishing it from other groups, and the memory of which it keeps alive;
  2. a cultural tradition of its own, including family and social customs and manners, often but not necessarily associated with religious observance. In addition to those two essential characteristics the following characteristics are, in my opinion, relevant:
  3. either a common geographical origin, or descent from a small number of common ancestors;
  4. a common language, not necessarily peculiar to the group;
  5. a common literature peculiar to the group;
  6. a common religion different from that of neighbouring groups or from the general community surrounding it;
  7. being a minority or being an oppressed or dominant group within a larger community. For example, a conquered people (say, the inhabitants of England shortly after the Norman conquest) and their conquerors might both be ethnic groups.

The significance of the case was that groups like Sikhs and Jews could now be protected under the Race Relations Act 1976. [48]

See also

Related Research Articles

Judaism The ethnic religion of the Jewish people

Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times. Today, the main division is between the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform movements, with several smaller movements alongside them. This denominational structure is mainly present in the United States, while in Israel, the fault lines are between the Orthodox and the non-religious.

Humanistic Judaism is a Jewish movement that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people. It encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish holidays and lifecycle events with inspirational ceremonies that draw upon but go beyond traditional literature. Its philosophical foundation includes the following ideas:

Religion in Canada religion in Canada

Religion in Canada encompasses a wide range of groups and beliefs.

"Who is a Jew?" is a basic question about Jewish identity and considerations of Jewish self-identification. The question explores ideas about Jewish personhood, which have cultural, ethnic, religious, political, genealogical, and personal dimensions. Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism follow Jewish law (Halakha), deeming a person to be Jewish if their mother is Jewish or they underwent a halakhic conversion. Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism accept both matrilineal and patrilineal descent. Karaite Judaism predominantly follows patrilineal descent.

Arab Jews is a controversial term referring to Jews living in or originating from the Arab world.

An ethnocracy is a type of political structure in which the state apparatus is controlled by a dominant ethnic group to further its interests, power and resources. Ethnocratic regimes typically display a combination of 'thin' democratic facade covering a more profound ethnic structure, in which ethnicity – and not citizenship – is the key to securing power and resources. An ethnocratic society facilitates the ethnicization of the state by the dominant group, through the expansion of control, often through conflict with minorities and neighboring states.

Religion in Israel religion in Israel

Religion in Israel is a central feature of the country and plays a major role in shaping Israeli culture and lifestyle. Religion has played a central role in Israel's history. Israel is also the only country in the world where a majority of citizens are Jewish. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the population in 2011 was 75.4% Jewish, 20.6% Arab, and 4.1% minority groups. The religious affiliation of the Israeli population as of 2019 was 74.2% Jewish, 17.8% Muslim, 2.0% Christian, and 1.6% Druze, with the remaining 4.4% including faiths such as Samaritanism and Baha'iism, and irreligious people with no faith.

Jewish assimilation Social process or ideology

Jewish assimilation refers to the gradual cultural assimilation and social integration of Jews in their surrounding culture as well as the ideological program promoting conformity as a potential solution to historic Jewish marginalization in the age of emancipation.

Religion in South Africa religion in South Africa

South Africa is a secular state with a diverse religious population. Its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of the population. Christianity, especially in its Protestant forms, predominates.

In world politics, Jewish state is a characterization of the nation state of Israel as a sovereign homeland of Jewish people.

The history of the Jews in Nigeria is a complex subject.

While earlier Jewish immigrants from Germany tended to be politically conservative, the wave of Eastern European Jews, starting in the early 1880s, were generally more liberal or left-wing, and became the political majority. Many of the latter came to America with experience in the socialist, anarchist, and communist movements as well as the Labor Bund, emanating from Eastern Europe. Many Jews rose to leadership positions in the early 20th century American labor movement, and helped to found unions that played a major role in left-wing politics and, after 1936, in Democratic Party politics. For most of the 20th century since 1936, the vast majority of Jews in the United States have been aligned with the Democratic Party. Towards the end of the 20th century, and at the beginning of the 21st century, Republicans have launched initiatives to woo American Jews away from the Democratic Party.

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

Anti-miscegenation laws or miscegenation laws are laws that enforce racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races. Anti-miscegenation laws were first introduced in North America from the late seventeenth century onwards by several of the Thirteen Colonies, and subsequently by many US states and US territories and remained in force in many US states until 1967.

Secularism in Israel shows how matters of religion and how matters of state are related within Israel. Secularism is defined as an indifference to, rejection or exclusion of religion and religious consideration. In Israel, this applies to the entirely secular community that identifies with no religion and the secular community within the Jewish community which identifies with no particular division of the religion. When Israel was established as a new state in 1948, a new and different Jewish identity formed for the newly created Israeli population. This population was defined by the Israeli culture and Hebrew language, their experience with the Holocaust, and the need to band together against conflict with hostile neighbors in the Middle East. This is not an identity with which Jews outside of Israel can easily identify.

Masortim ' is an Israeli term of self-definition, describing the Israeli Jews who perceive and define themselves as neither strictly religious (Dati) nor secular (Hiloni).

The term Ethnic Mennonite refers to Mennonites of Central European ancestry and culture who are considered to be members of a Mennonite ethnic or ethno-religious group. The term is also used for aspects of their culture, such as ethnic Mennonite food like Pfeffernüsse, Borscht and Tweebak.

Shenandoah Germans

The Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia and neighboring parts of West Virginia is home to a long-established German-American community dating back to the 17th century. The earliest German settlers to Shenandoah, sometimes known as the Shenandoah Deitsch or the Valley Dutch, were Pennsylvania Dutch migrants who arrived from southeastern Pennsylvania. These German settlers travelled southward along the Great Wagon Road. The Pennsylvania Dutch are the descendants of German, Swiss, and Alsatian Protestants who began settling in Pennsylvania during the 1600s. These German refugees had fled the Rhineland-Palatinate region of southwestern Germany due to religious and political persecution during repeated invasions by French troops. From the colonial period to the early 1900s, people of Germanic heritage formed the social and economic backbone of the Shenandoah Valley. The majority of the German settlers in the valley belonged to Anabaptist denominations such as the Mennonites, the Dunkers, and others. Smaller numbers were German Catholics or German Jews. Due to both economic reasons and Anabaptist objections to slavery, the German settlers of the valley owned few slaves, and consequently the area has never had a large African-American population. The earliest European settlers of the Shenandoah Valley were the Germans, who mostly settled in the northern portions of the valley, and the Scotch-Irish who mostly settled in the southern portions of the valley. The German language was commonly spoken in Shenandoah until World War I, when anti-German sentiment resulted in many German-Americans abandoning their language and customs in order to assimilate into the cultural mainstream. The German contribution to the culture of the Shenandoah Valley has been substantial, with Germans popularizing Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine and shape note singing. While most white Southerners have been of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic stock, the German migration to Shenandoah has given the area some ethnic diversity, "a characteristic more Pennsylvanian then Virginian". While the valley is geographically Southern, this German contribution from the Mid-Atlantic has "made it appear Northern." In the 21st century, the Shenandoah Valley and Harrisonburg in particular have become known as a haven for refugees, with Mennonites and the Church of the Brethren playing a prominent role in helping resettle migrants from Latin America and elsewhere. The Mennonites and the Brethren have played an active role due to their denominational emphasis on pacifism and social justice, along with the Mennonite and Brethren history of being refugees from religious persecution in Europe.

References

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Bibliography

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