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Belief That Jews Killed Jesus Is Held By Over A Quarter Of Americans, Reports ADL Survey On Anti-Semitism

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A recent survey by the Anti-Defamation League determined that 26% of Americans still believe that "Jews were responsible for the death of Christ." Though that percentage has decreased from 31% in 2011, it still accounts for over a quarter of America.

Pope Benedict XVI specifically rejected the narrative which blames Jews for the death of Jesus in a 2011 book, "Jesus of Nazareth -- Part II." He explained biblically and theologically the reasons why Scripture doesn't support the argument that the Jewish people as a whole can be held responsible for the death of Jesus. He asked, "How could the whole people have been present at this moment to clamor for Jesus' death?"

Also, a 1965 Second Vatican Council document, "Nostra Aetate," took the decisive position that Christ's death could not be blamed on the Jews as a whole at that time nor today.

Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and author of "Zealot," a biography of the historical Jesus, weighed in to the Huffington Post about why he thinks so many hold this erroneous belief.

Aslan explained:

The Gospels try to make it seem like the Jews killed Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew flat out claims that the Jews requested that the blood of Jesus be placed on their heads and their children's heads.

The Gospels were all written after the destruction of Jerusalem. A that time, Judaism had become a pariah of religion in the Roman empire, and so the gospels were primarily intended for a non-Jewish, Roman, audience. If you want to convince a Roman audience to accept Jesus, then you have to remove all blame from Rome for his death.

And so we see a steady progression from the first Gospel of Mark to the last Gospel of John, in which little by little, blame is removed from Rome and placed directly upon the Jews. This, of course, is totally unhistorical. The Jews under Roman Imperium had no power to influence capital punishment.

The 2013 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America polled over 1,200 adults, measuring their level of anti-Semitism with an 11-question index developed by the ADL about 50 years ago.

eleven questions

“The poll shows that while we have made great progress in promoting understanding in American society, the most enduring anti-Semitic canards continue to hold sway among some segments of the American public,” said Mr. Foxman, ADL National Director.

For example,

  • 14% agree with the statement that "Jews have too much power in the U.S. today."
  • More specifically, 19% believe that Jews have too much power in the business world, 17% say that Jews have too much control on Wall Street, 18% think that Jews have too much influence over the media, and 24% are of the opinion that the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews.
  • Also, 30% of Americans think that American Jews are "more loyal to Israel" than they are to America.
  • Almost one-quarter of respondents believe that "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust."

jews christ

On the more positive side, the survey found that even those with deeply anti-Semitic attitudes sometimes attached positive qualities to Jews as well.

  • 75% of respondents believe that Jews have a strong faith in God.
  • 65% say that Jews have made a lot of contributions to the cultural life of America.
  • 78% think that Jews value their families.

The ADL says that the margin of error is +/- 2.8 percent. See the full report here.

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