Episcopalians vs. Jews

By Razib Khan | December 29, 2008 2:55 am

A few days ago the Audacious Epigone pointed out that Episcopalians are in the same neighborhood as Jews in the United States on intelligence tests; i.e., on the order of a bit more than 2/3 of a standard deviation above the norm. The recent paper on religion & IQ confirmed these findings. One of the peculiarities of American Jews is how liberal they are; the old saying was that they “live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.” With the rise of the Religious Right Episcopalians are actually starting to vote more like Jews; the Pew Religious Survey suggests that 49% are now Democrats or Democrat leaning, while 42% are Republicans or Republican leaning. But in any case, I was curious, how different are Jews and Episcopalians? And, how do both these groups relate to white Protestants as a whole, who I tend to think are the archetypical “control” in the American context. So I you probably know what I did next: looked in the GSS. If you click to read the whole post, a whole lot of charts….


  • http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts Matt Springer

    Is “Favor or oppose gun permits” asking if guns should be permitted, or if permits should be required to own a gun? Either way, I’m kind of surprised it’s so one-sided.

  • http://cienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    the variable is GUNLAW, the question is:
    Would you favor or oppose a law which would require a person to obtain a police permit before he or she could buy a gun?
    so the latter.

  • Huxley

    I’ve read that half of all Episcopalians these days are converts so there’s some self-selecting going on.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    One of the most interesting data points here is the set for the nature of the Bible. The Jews have a much higher level agreeing with it being a book of fables than the other categories even though they are close to the Episcopalians on the percentages for everything else. I’d be curious as to the breakdown of Jews in this study by Reform/Conservative/Orthodox/other and how much that data point changes along with the others.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    66.4% in this sample were raised episcopalian.
    I’d be curious as to the breakdown of Jews in this study by Reform/Conservative/Orthodox/other and how much that data point changes along with the others.
    the breakdown is as you would expect.
    do this
    row: jew
    column: bible
    filter: relig(3)

  • David B

    The ‘Bible’ presumably means the Old Testament for Jews and the Old and New Testaments for Episcopalians. For a fair comparison, you would need to ask Episcopalians if they regard the Old Testament as a ‘book of fables’. Seems a good description to me!
    BTW, is there any comparison of IQ for Jews and Episcopalians after controlling for social class? Both groups are predominantly middle class.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    looks about the same to me. here’s the correlations
    subjective class & wordsum = 0.24 for both groups
    socioeconomic index & wordsum = 0.34 for episco, 0.31 for jews

  • Justin Loe

    There’s a distinction by class between the various churches; Episcopalians are traditionally associated with more upper-class families and “old families” while Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. are associated with lower class families.
    The older families often have a tradition of education, achievement and accomplishment and tend to attend these “upper-class” churches where they associate with members of the same group.
    In a sense, the Episcopalian Church serves as a vehicle for the assortative mating of these upper class families.
    This is perhaps less true than in the past, as children are more apt to defy these “guidelines.”
    Of course, I do not attend church or synagogue myself.

  • Kevembuangga

    FWIW, the arguments of a right wing observant Jew gun nut:
    I wasn’t going to…

  • Gary Glaucon

    “The Jews have a much higher level agreeing with it [Bible]being a book of fables than the other categories even though they are close to the Episcopalians on the percentages for everything else.”- Joshua Zelinsky
    The Jews follow the Talmud which is unknown to most Christians. This data shows the ignorance of the Christian community who thinks that they have a real connection to the Jews through the Old Testament.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    The Jews follow the Talmud which is unknown to most Christians. This data shows the ignorance of the Christian community who thinks that they have a real connection to the Jews through the Old Testament.
    you don’t know what you’re talking about. reform jews don’t emphasize the talmud, while conservative jews are informed, but not nearly as talmud-centric as orthodox jews. only 10% of american jews are orthodox.

  • nonuthun

    The last graph is the most interesting. Is it wrong to cheat on taxes?
    Oftentimes the ones (liberals) who propose the most government spending are the same ones who try their best to avoid them. They give the least to charity.
    Altruism is fine, just as long as it’s someone else who provides it. Rhetoric is the alms of hypocrites.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Gary, that’s not how it works at all. Jews generally rely on the Talmud as a commentary and transmission of oral law and associated stories related to the Biblical text. But that entire edifice has Tanach as its center. It might be somewhat more accurate to say that the Jewish attitude towards the Biblical texts is in some ways closer to Catholicism’s attitudes than the rest of Christianity but that’s not quite accurate.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    joshua, neo-karaitism is prominent in the reform movement. i think you need to distinguish that from the norm in the mainstream of rabbnical-orthodox judaism. in One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them the orthodox interlocutor repeatedly admires the reform rabbi’s mastery of the tanakh, implicitly admitting that this is a function of investment of time (he does note that the women in the orthodox community are relatively well versed in the tanakh though since they do not invest as much time in the talmud).

  • http://blog.ninapaley.com Nina Paley

    One of my great-uncles, an Ashkenazi Jew (like the rest of my family) converted to Episcopalianism. His brother, my grandfather, converted to Communism. Episcopalian convert great-uncle made a ton of money, became a multimillionaire, pressured his mother (my great-grandmother) to convert to Episcopalianism too, and joined the John Birch Society. Communist grandfather bought a small farm in Indiana in the 1950’s, accidentally amputated his thumb in farm machinery, severely injured his back, gave up and moved back to the city and got a modest middle-class job.
    So there’s another Episcopalian-Jew connection for you.

  • justme

    White Protestants includes Southern White Protestants. I’d be interested to know whether the survey has only ended up uncovering differences between Northern USers (mostly NE, which have significant numbers of Jews) and Southern USers, differences we mostly know about; so is the takeaway just that Northerners (whether Jewish or Protestant) are more like each other, and significantly different from Southerners. I once had two colleagues, one Orthodox NE US Jewish, the other Southern Baptist. But it was the Orthodox Jew, with his Columbia-educated wife, who had 5 kids. The Baptist had just moved north, and hadn’t had much contact with Jews at all – and so he asked me, a South Asian, who’s that guy (with the yarmulke); and when I told him, so is that why he has so many kids? (His desk photo showed all 5 kids. Your chart shows Jews with 5 kids about 0%; White Protestants with 5 kids about 5%. So that was funny when he said it, and even funnier now.)

  • Madelyn Flowers

    I assume that we are talking about Americans. In America it’s all about choice and who you want to be. My grandfather came to this country as a Jew. He took his children to the Episcopal Church. I was raised as an Episcopalian. When my church left me I became a white protestant. I do not believe in corporate guilt and have no desire to be a victim. We are all free to choose. As far as the IQ tests are concerned it could be that in great numbers the Jews and Episcoplians are from the same genetic strain. This does not mean that they are smarter,but have a particular type of intelligence that tests well.

  • Robert Hume

    The most striking difference is the attitude toward Israel. Jews are clearly massively committed. That’s why the US is in such trouble today. The Muslims are mad at us because the US supports the settlements. The settlements stand in the way of peace. Our cities may be nuked as a result of the settlements … which are, of course, counter to the Geneva Convention.
    The taxes are next. I’ve heard this statistical analysis before and am always depressed. How unusual is Madoff after all? Tolerance of illegality in money matters seems to be far too common among Jews.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar