With election season underway, debates over social issues are likely to take center stage on TV and in your living room. In this three-part series, Rabbi Shira Stutman will lead a guided discussion exploring the nuances of three hot button social issues – guns, gays, and abortions. The group will explore different viewpoints on the second amendment, gun control, conception, reproductive rights, and issues facing the LGBT community using Jewish texts as the basis for debate.
So reads the Sixth & I blurb for this three-part event that begins on Thursday (June 7).
I disagree with the assertion that “debates over social issues are likely to take center stage on TV and in your living room.” This March 2012 Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 82 percent of Americans think the economy is the number one issue. Every other poll I’ve seen suggests the same — jobs and the economy reign supreme.
As for Jewish “living rooms” — we’re, not surprisingly, pretty similar to the rest of the country. An April 30, 2012 AJC poll found that 80 percent of Jews “cite the economy as one of the three most important issues in deciding their vote.” Health Care placed second at 57%. Abortion only ranked in the top three with 11% of respondents. Conventional wisdom does suggest, however, that social issues rank higher with Jewish Americans than with the average American. Especially female Jewish Americans.
Most Important Issues in Deciding Presidential Vote
Source: AJC April 30, 2012 poll
But even if we disagree over which issues will take center stage, there’s no debating that this three-part event will make for an entertaining and lively discussion.
To prepare you for the discussion, I’ll (self-referentially) point you to my “Gentile’s Guide to The Jewish Voter” as well as this thorough study by the Public Religion Research Institute “Chosen For What?: Jewish Values in 2012“, and I’ll give you a few statistics on the three topics to be discussed by Rabbi Shira:
- Couldn’t find many statistics on this. If you know of polls on American Jews and gun control, please send them my way! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- 88 percent of American Jews agree that there should be a nationwide ban on assault weapons (1997 AJC exit poll via National Jewish Democratic Council)
- Good article by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz on Jewish perspectives on gun control. (The New York Jewish Week)
- A Public Religion Research Institute poll showed 81 percent of Jews support gay marriage. (New York Jewish Week)
- Nathan Guttman came to the same number (81 percent support gay marriage) in his article for the Jewish Daily Forward.
- Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telgraphic Agency estimates Jewish support of gay marriage to be around 75 percent. (Jewish Exponent)
- The Los Angeles Times reported that 78 percent of Jews opposed California’s Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage.
- Gay marriage is opposed by the Rabbinical Council of American and the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America (see letter)
- This Survey of American Jewish Opinion 2000 report found that 88 percent of Jews support abortion.
- This 2012 article from The Jewish Daily Forward by Nathan Guttman puts Jewish support for abortion at 92 percent.
- Still, some Jews such as conservative pro-life activist Michael Medved say, “Jewish law for millennia has been extremely clear, that abortion is only permitted when the life of the mother is directly threatened.” (Jewish Chronicle, Leon Cohen)
Hope to see you at the discussion.