(Force of Separation) Trump & Orthodox Judaism (Religion, Death, Chaos)


The conventional wisdom is that what draws religious voters to conservative politics is the appeal of order and structure. The more observant, the more devout the stronger this appeal. We know that 83% of orthodox Jews are supporting Trump, representing some 20% of the American Jewish community. The same pattern holds for evangelical Christians. The point of view jibes with functionalist theories in the sociology of religion that highlight the conjoining of  society around sacred things to create a “moral community.” 

But this is a moral community of insiders. We would need to take a closer look at what Durkheim called “the negative cult.” Maybe what attracts religion to conservative politics (in particular as we see it now reflected in the politics of Trump and Trumpism conjoined with a global pandemic) is separation and chaos and disorder and death. Richard Rubenstein touches upon this dynamic in Power Struggle: An Autobiographical Confession. Against the world, maybe disruption is what religion reflects and generates at its psychic “core. In Judaism, the place to look for that spiritual “root” is Kabbalah and Hasidut.

The force of disorder in Haredi order that seems especially in play is the absolute supremacy ascribed to the value and institutions of talmud Torah. They are so absolute that they throw the entire structure out of whack. 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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1 Response to (Force of Separation) Trump & Orthodox Judaism (Religion, Death, Chaos)

  1. dmf says:

    I would think his support for their interests/causes in Israel his willingness to shield religious conservatives against the demands of a cosmopolitan civic ordering and the like go a long way to explaining the connection, what puzzles me is why they think they can ride this wave of support from white christian nationalists without eventually getting drowned in the coming undertow?
    As for the current appeal of such cults aren’t most folks born/raised into them?

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