I Hate Religious People

I hate Religious People.

Some people call them “fanatics” but that word is misleading.  When I think of fanatics, I think of nutty guys waving flags and yelling in tongues at everyone they disagree with.

But these Religious People are much more insidious than that.  They live in all communities, within every belief system, and can sometimes seem just as normal as you or me on the outside.

But the reason I call them Religious People is because most of us aren’t religious.  We are just people trying to be religious.  People striving to do our best, and we know that we don’t know everything and that we still have a long way to grow.

Religious People think they’ve arrived.  They think they know.  They think you don’t know.  They are Religious, and thus they claim all knowledge and holiness for themselves.

I see this all the time within the religious Jewish world.  They’re the ones that when you get into a discussion about G-d, they claim to know all the answers.  They tell you, “You’re doing it all wrong!” or “Unless you follow what I saw 100%, there is no way that you are actually a ‘good’ religious Jew.”

They’re maybe 1% of the Jewish world, and yet sometimes it seems like they’re everywhere, their shrill voices rising above the other 99%.

I hate these people.

I hate them because they twist my religion into something it’s not.  I hate them even more because other people listen to them.  I see friends, people I know, people I love, who think that because someone says something extreme that it must be right.  For some people, it can be hard to remember that just because someone acts holy doesn’t mean that they are.

I hate that these people claim to know what G-d thinks, that they try and represent my religion and yet completely misrepresent it.

I hate that they don’t realize how much their own emotions are twisting their thinking.  I hate that I can’t speak with them because I know they will simply yell at me, whether metaphorically or literally.

I hate that people who aren’t religious look at these people and make the same mistake other Jews I know make, that someone who is calling themselves Religious and making a big hoopla is the person that represents their religion.  I hate that these are the people the papers like to write about.

I hate that what ultimately results from their actions is that they distract people from the real goal of religion: connecting to truth.  Living a life of meaning.

I hate that they are damaging my religion and other religions and that they exist in every group and that they are the main reason there are so many conflicts between religious groups, between political groups (yes, the Religious People exist in politics too, in every belief system), between nations.

I hate these Religious People because they are the ultimate expression of everything that’s wrong with the world: that they claim to be goodness when really they are creating negativity and darkness.  And that they are hurting the very people that want so badly to do good for the world.

I hate that they distract me.  I hate that I think this is an important topic.   I hate that they matter to me enough that I’m writing a blog post about them.  I hate that I’ve wasted a day of writing on them.  I hate that I normally feel better after I write, but now I just feel more hate.

But, most of all, I hate that I hate them.  I hate that I know they don’t deserve my hate.  I hate that, really, they deserve my sympathy.  I hate that they are just people with issues, and not enemies I have an excuse to attack.  I hate that I need to find better ways to address the way they are hurting my people and other groups and dividing us all.  I hate that this is not the way to think about them.  I hate that their being so extreme has become an excuse for me to hate them.  I hate that I just wish they would disappear.  I hate that the more I hate them, the more I become like them.

I hate that I’m writing this.  I hate this blog post.

38 Comments

  1. Yael October 16, 2013 at 11:49 am

    …and the beautiful thing about our religion is that regardless of whether we are those who hate hating the religious people, or the ones with the shrill voices, we are still all one in Hashem’s eyes. B”H that He gave us Yom Kippur.

  2. HS October 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    At the end of the day, don’t you also “claim to know what G-d thinks”? I think we all do…otherwise we wouldn’t be doing these mitzvot in this or that specific way, or teaching other people to do them as well. Obviously there are lots of interpretations, but there’s a limit, no?

    1. Elad Nehorai October 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Yeah, I’m not saying I’m against saying that we know what G-d wants. I’m referring to people that twist the words to their own ends.

      1. HS October 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        ok 🙂

  3. Teacher October 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I was so impressed with your article that I read it to my teenage students already. It is a very impressive article

  4. Cliona Campbell October 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve encountered many people like those you write about, but
    I really don’t think that hate (even to verbalise it as ‘hate’) is the right
    answer. Hatred and anger are really destructive emotions because they cause
    separation and ultimately harm you and not the parties you disagree with,
    making them completely counter-productive. It feels natural to hate and be
    angry in the same respect that any of the evil inclinations come so naturally
    to a human being. The shulkan aruch among numerous other sources condemns anger
    even in case where it’s completely legitimate; “Anger is also a very evil
    trait and it should be avoided at all costs. You should train yourself not to
    become angry even if you have a good reason to be angry” (29:4). That
    said, I completely empathise with everything you wrote and can understand
    wholeheartedly- I just think these issues need a different strategy when
    combating them.

  5. nurul ashikin October 16, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I’ve been reading your beautiful posts lately. However, somehow, this makes me smiles a little bit, because I used to be like this too…or maybe I still do, even though we are from different religion.
    You wrote too many ‘hate’ in this post and it’s not good for your health!
    Because you hate it so much and you really hate it from being infected by the specific behaviour, then how about you do thing bit different? Perhaps, you could also write what you love in them, over all those hates. There must be something or perhaps one thing that they deserve you love, isn’t there? ^_^

    1. Natan Shlomo Valadez October 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      B”HU
      Amazing It takes a woman wearing a headscarf to say what the actual view shoul be by you “Pop Hasid”. I think you need to take some time, stop and quit throwing a tantrum because someone in The Religious community of authority told you that you have to stop doing that “thing”.
      Because this boils down to an issue about YOU disagreeing with TORAH.
      Or a personal issue concerning a Rabbi or a girl.
      In 22 years as a Baal Teshuvah I see this a lot.
      Serving Hashem is like you should like it BUT IF YOU DONT, you obey.
      Its very black and white. If there is a Torah way to do it its allowed.
      If not Its against The Will of G-D.
      And yes The Talmudic sages do know The Torah better than us.
      They are those who have studied G-D’s will the most.
      And yes they are Divinely guided. Ruach Hakodesh.
      Its a foundation of The Jewish Faith.

  6. Jesse Davis October 17, 2013 at 2:57 am

    We might all be acting on our best guess of what truth is. At best it’s one that is confirmed and informed by our experiences. At worst, that guess is a cover for our biggest fears, and our need for it to be true makes us walk through life with blinders.

    A lot of people get caught up on following “the one true path” and observance becomes it’s own end, rather than a means to connect with God and others.

    I get frustrated by this, too. That attitude has turned many of my loved ones off of religion. I hate it, and sometimes I hate them. It’s not that we’re right to feel hate, but we’re human and frustrated by just how loud and insistent these other voices are. No one likes a know it all, especially when they’re lecturing you about how you’re misinterpreting the single most personal and intimate relationship that you have.

    Great post.

  7. j.oliver October 17, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Man, thank you for this beautiful essay. I love that you wrote from where you were in the moment, and shared that part of yourself with the world. A piece like this, uncensored, introspective, and filled with emotion, takes great heart and courage. It is meaningful and worthwhile. Thank you. Well done.

    1. mono August 17, 2014 at 7:00 am

      It’s not an essay. J. Oliver pls.

  8. AJB October 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

    First, I love your blog! more importantly I appreciate your thoughts and the depth of your mind. Now, a response to this posting, actually it’s a recant of an experience I had 40 yrs ago.

    I was very attracted to Chabad and began learning and living accordingly. The man and woman with whom i learned and shared Shabbos with were loving, kind, patient and devoted. As I slowly and cautiously immersed within this community I was exposed to many who were judgmental, critical, arrogant, and more. I was often shamed. I was called treyf. The exclusivity by many was profoundly uncomfortable. None of this negative behavior was consistent with what I was learning. After all, I was like most, Benoni. I was hurt and discontinued my relationship with Chassidus. I did not discontinue living spiritually Jewish and desiring to be closer to G-d.

    For a long time, I too, looked upon these people with a negative mind. My thoughts were not very pleasant, the same as yours, and I also used the word “hate”. I often fondly remember the couple that welcomed me, without conditions, into their lives. Unfortunately they were a minority within this community.

    I have given this experience much thought over the years and now see the hurtful ones as people deserving of compassionate thoughts. Of what experiences did they have within their lives that brought them to such awful behavior? I no longer wish to pollute my life with hurtful thinking like that. It will only serve to keep me from G-d.

    Perhaps we should examine the emotions underlying the feeling that brings us to use words such as hate. Learn from it, try not to use it again, and stay on the path of seeking closeness to G-d. Whatever path that may be.

  9. elessar25 October 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I have a question for you, Elad: why are you so anti-emotion? It seems that it really bothers you when people feel strongly about certain issues, be it religion, intermarriage, or whatever. Are there no issues that we’re allowed to be passionate about? Is “whatever floats your boat” the only acceptable approach?

    1. Elad Nehorai October 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      If you think my blog is anti-emotion, I don’t even know what to say. Maybe you need to read it a bit more.

  10. Boruch S. October 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Elad, (and everyone else) you MUST watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esK9gPf-rDc . Why do some people claim to be religious when Judaism is not even a religion? What does it mean to be religious anyways? if you do 10 mitzvot are you religious? 100? 200? 612? How can an imperfect Jew who doesn’t fulfill all of the mitzvot claim religious authority? The fact is, Judaism is not a religion, none of us are religious, we are just Jewish. This Video explains why. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esK9gPf-rDc

    1. Yehoishophot Oliver October 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Saying that Judaism is not a religion is just semantics and sophistry. Of course Judaism is a religion; it’s just that it contains infinitely more than what secular people typically associate with religion.

      1. Boruch S. October 26, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        Is it? You can be atheist and still be Jewish. You can even be a christian and still be a Jew. You can hate G-d, hate Jews, hate torah, and stlll be a jew. Being Jewish goes way deeper than just being a religion.

        1. Yehoishophot Oliver October 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm

          This is just a confusion of terminology. Judaism has basic tenets of belief, and G-d-given laws to follow. That’s the idea of a religion. To say “Judaism is not a religion” implies that it doesn’t have such tenets. Which is false: Many holy books have been written to explain these tents. Moreover, Torah says that all Jews believe in Hashem and Torah, even if they say that they don’t. Put differently, Judaism may define itself and affiliation with it differently from the way other religions do, but that only makes it a unique religion, not a non-religion.

          Also, non-Jews can and should follow the beliefs and laws of Judaism (aka the Jewish religion) as relevant to them (the laws of Noach), so Judaism and Jewishness are not synonymous.

          1. Boruch S. October 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

            “Judaism may define itself and affiliation with it differently from the
            way other religions do, but that only makes it a unique religion, not a
            non-religion.”

            OK, i think i can agree with you on this. Judaism Doesn’t fit the bill of a standard religion, that’s why I have trouble labeling it as one. For starters, the typical religion is based on what “rewards” the person can get out of it, and Judaism is based on what the person can do for G-d. Secondly, the typical religion is based on the claim that one person had a revelation from G-d, and everyone else has to believe it. Judaism is the only religion that claims that G-d made a revelation to 2 million+ people at Har Sinai. Finally, is someone born to christian parents but is a self-proclaimed atheist considered a christian? probably not. Non-Jews need a religion in order to feel connected to G-d, while Jews are naturally connected via their G-dly soul.

            Being that Judaism is so unique in these ways (and many many others-you don’t have to be Jewish to serve G-d, most religions that i know of have a “my way or the highway” approach), i feel like calling Judaism a religion is a big understatement. But if you wanna call it a unique religion, I can live with that 🙂 .

        2. AugustineThomas May 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm

          You’re extremely ignorant. Semitic is the race. Jewish is the religion.

    2. a wise man January 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      hate is such an ugly thing to have toward your fellow Jew when G-d loves both of you so very much. Hatred in this sense is the same as telling G-d he isn’t all knowing because if he knew better he would hate the yidden you hate and of course get rid of them

  11. dpbrunberg October 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    This a great post. You express how many of us often feel. Your work is having an impact in so many ways. Thank you!!

  12. Tanya October 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I love this post. I love that although we are from different faiths I totally GET what you’re saying – and that it’s something I feel deeply. I hate that you’re right about my hate. That your openness convicts me of my hate toward people I ought to love. I hate the reminder that too often I gossip where I should extend grace (and more love). Thank you for sharing.

  13. Natan Shlomo Valadez October 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    B”HU
    You know. You make a mistake about religious people in Judaism.
    We don’t say we are perfect. We say we have the way to serve G-D as
    GIVEN by G-D. We are everything wrong with the world? Religion is not about meaning in your life. That is a byproduct. The purpose of religion as far as Judaism is concerned is to servd G-D according to G-D’s will. That gives us meaning.
    What exactly do you hate about us?
    We tell you what the path is.
    And it might not be the path your on.
    But it being religious means we are on the proper path.
    Do you want to do your own thing? Say so.
    But don’t critize the Religious when you hear that being Jewish means doing
    What YOU DISAGREE WITH.
    Judaism isn’t a pick and choose religion.
    It has black and white beliefs codified in the work know as “Derech Hashem”
    The Way of G-D.
    The laws are are also well defined though the range of application is very broad.
    Lenient to Strict. As long as its within the law its all good.
    But sometimes we disagree with the law.
    We obey.
    Sometimes our way of thinkinf differs from the belief.
    We are wrong.
    That is Judaism.
    You don’t really hate the people. You hate being told that you can’t
    do whatever you want.

  14. Yesha'yahu Shomer October 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Jewishness, like what the Rebbe said in the video, is based on carrying out Mitvahs. When I can to Judaism, I didn’t understand that until now. Religious people have their idols, but we have HaShem.

  15. Yehoishophot Oliver October 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    This post expresses a similar point to my essay here.

  16. Mikhael October 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Hi, just saw your “love” article on Aish. It very well described the state of most people. Big thumbs up for realizing that about your own marriage!
    I have to politely disagree with part of this article though, I think what you meant to say was
    “I hate the way they act, even though inside they have potential to become great individuals.”
    “I hate the way the get into other people’s business, even though they think they are helping”
    “I hate the way they misrepresent, even though they are trying to represent what they believe G-d wants”
    “Even though I hate many things about them, I LOVE them, because they are my brothers and sisters, and because G-d loves them, and He wants me to love them”
    Let me know… Mikhael

    1. Elad Nehorai October 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Let’s put it this way: I WISH that was what I meant to say.

      1. Mikhael October 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm

        lol. that sounds good, looks like you are trying to get to that plateau in life.

        1. Elad Nehorai October 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

          Haha, I guess so. And thanks for your compliments on the love article! Glad you liked it so much.

  17. zack November 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    i once heard simon jacobson say: fan is short for fanatic, yet we say sports fans and religious fanatics. why not the other way around?

  18. infinite wisdom January 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Why anyone would want to follow someone who feels compelled to “hate” a certain group on generalities is beyond me. You are condoning the membership drives of the KKK, the Black Panthers who develop a base built on hating another group based on ignorance.
    Is it possible to speak of other emotions other than hate? It is more likely that people speak of only what they know instead of expanding their minds to learn more in order to express themselves better.
    In a round-a-bout way a message comes through,,,,but it is marginalized with hate as if that is the only emotion that is affected. Try again, but this time with a perch on the outside looking in at everyone you say is driving the hate. Then change the perspective of the looker to one of those you proclaim is the cause of the hate.

  19. AugustineThomas May 26, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    You sound like a Soviet Communist. I hope you don’t ever get any power and murder some poor Christian because you hate yourself for being such a sinner!

  20. mono August 17, 2014 at 7:37 am

    You seem to hate Jews and never once did you write “God” but G-d. I’m assuming you’re belief is in Allah or other gods or whatever you believe in. If anything, you’re hate in this blog is to jews more than ever. Rather than basing your biased hate on religious extremists, you only pour your hate to Jews or the Jewish beliefs rather than focusing on your own religion. You let yourself get consumed by your hatred of your distractions rather than losing yourself in your own religion. If anything, just ignore them, respect their decision to waste their life extenuating their beliefs by being extremist fanatics until they die. Or if you’re even more pissed, just do something about it, go talk to them, ask why they’re like that, or if you CBB, just ask them to STOP. It’s that simple. Rather than hating on your own rant blog you ‘hate’, why don’t you do something than be a bystander caring for something that shouldn’t affect you in anyway.

    If you believe or are watching people being transformed or converted to another religion, have you asked why? Rather than hating them because they don’t conform to your religion, ask them why have they changed? Regardless of your beliefs, I’m pretty sure all religion says don’t hate on your enemy. Hate is the consumption of jealousy, annoyance and pretty much the devil/satan himself.

    I am in no way, a religious believer, nor do I defend Jewish beliefs, I let them be, you should let them be, but if anything, I believe in Jesus and His Word. Rather than man made religions (ie. Catholicism; no offence but if you’re a catholic believer, I don’t mind, but you should understand, Catholicism is fake. Originally, believing in the sun as their God, they changed their belief to the bible and altered it to pray under the name Mary a while before the Protestant Reformation occurred pretty much. Just saying.) and or activities that people believe would bring them to happen, I just believe in the Man that created all. ‘Christianity’ has been warped by fools. Running ramped in their fanatical fantasies and religions. Now it’s been stereotyped as extremists. I believe Christianity is just a name for a person who believes in God. Others may think differently.

    Overall, nice rant, but at least you tried. Hopefully your hate has subsided.

  21. JackJackson June 13, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Oh, do shut up.