The god problem: fundamentalist religion, always bad

A fascinating opinion piece in the Times today from Shulem Deen, a guy who grew up a Hasidic Jew, left the cult and now has exposed the wretchedness of it, specifically in its conscientious obstruction to a general, decent education.

I am a declared enemy of religion, and specifically am at war with fundamentalist religions because of their institutionalized suppression of women’s civil rights.

Mr. Deen’s story, however, illuminates an angle of fundamentalism I really hadn’t known about, although I was aware that Jewish fundamentalist cults do demand — and occasionally succeed at getting — public education funds for their schools, despite the fact that, according to Mr. Deen and to my horror, Yeshiva boys are not even taught English. Can’t read it, can’t write it. They leave school basically illiterate and ignorant of anything but Jewish law and rituals.

Which makes me furious. Since Mr. Deen has detailed and excoriated the demands of ultra-Orthodox Jews for all sorts of government, i.e., taxpayer, support, I thank him for giving me a rare dose of apoplexy unconnected to Trump. (Except I could easily slide into raking the ignoramus Betsy DeVos over the Christian coals, because she does want to give taxpayer funds to support religious schools.)

And take a look at the readers’ comments to this story. To a man and woman, Jew or non-Jew, they are flabbergasted and furious.

Since it took Shulem Deen years to learn how to write English — after he was 30 — I applaud him, especially because not only does his essay connect emotionally, it shines in clarity and detail.


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