Are any other religions and ethnicity as closely linked as the Jewish religion/ethnicity

The connection between the Jewish religion and ethnicity is a cause for many a debates (e.g. this one happening right now). But it is undeniable that while the Jewish ethnic identity, is not the same thing as the practice of the Jewish religion, it is very very closely linked, so much so that to a casual observer the two may appear to be one and the same. Even to the point that there is not consensus on how to refer to the ethnicity without referring to the religion.

My question is, are there any other religions that have a link that strong to a particular ethnicity? I don’t mean countries where there is an established religion that doesn’t recognize as citizens people who aren’t that religion (which in turn may be linked to an ethnicity or language).

The Parsi religion/ethnic group has a similar situation:

There are different sects of Judaism, but, as mentioned in the other thread, the Tribes of Israel and the Tribe of Judah were Bronze Age/Iron Age things; today there is no ethnic requirement to be a Jew (ETA nor is there one dominant ethnicity of Jews in practice). Or did you have in mind the principle in Rabbinic Judaism (as opposed to, say, Karaite Judaism) that someone with a Jewish mother is, by matrilineal descent, also a Jew? That hardly seems like it would tend to restrict the ethnicity of Jews, though.

I would expect many small religious groups like Samaritans and Shakers to be more ethnically tight-knit simply due to their numbers, and, by contrast, anything big enough to have a tendency to spread to different communities.

There are also a number of tribal religions in India (and elsewhere, I presume?) where ethnic and religious identity are very closely linked.

Bear in mind, too, that “Jewish ethnicity” is actually more genetically diverse than the notion of a single ancestral population suggests. It is thought that most Ashkenazi Jews are descended from non-ethnically-Jewish European women assimilated during the medieval Jewish diaspora, for example.

There have been a few non-Indians who have converted to Hinduism, but overall Hinduism is pretty connected to being either Indian or having Indian ancestry. My understanding is that Hinduism (unlike Christianity, Buddhism, or Islam) has no major interest in converting people.

Voodoo, Santería, Candomblé, and related religious traditions are pretty closely linked with African ancestry.

The Druze were the first that sprung to mind.

Wiki has a list of Ethnoreligious groups.

There are certainly many in the Americas as well. For example, many of the Guna (or Kuna) of Panama continue to practice their own traditional religion, although some communities are predominantly Catholic or Protestant. Other indigenous groups in Panama also continue to practice their traditional beliefs.

A bit more complicated than that. Like “Israeli”, “Indian” is a nationality, not an ethnicity. India is the largest country on earth and has many ethnic groups in it. Additionally, there are other countries where Hinduism is significant, but not just because of people who trace their ancestry back to India.

It used to be common to refer to Indians ad “Hindus” or “Hindoos”, but no one today would use that term either for an Indian or to indicate an ethnic group. Saying someone is a Hindu is to indicate their beliefs, not their ethnicity.

Shinto and Japan are closely intertwined, but it’s devolved into ritual and tradition for the vast majority of Japanese, rather than what we might consider “religion.”

Also, “Hindu” is a sort of grab bag for all sorts of beliefs and practices. Generally it just means “Someone from South Asia who isn’t Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, or whatever.”

So it’s more comparable to “European/Mediterranean Paganism”, which wasn’t a unified thing either, and only became a thing when contrasted to Christianity.

It’s not even close. It’s the 7th, after Russia, Canada, China, USA, Brazil, and Australia. And it’s about half the size of Australia (the 6th largest) and less than a quarter the size of Russia. It’s a relatively large country but nowhere near the largest.

Population-wise it’s almost the largest (just behind China) and it’s projected to become the largest someday given relative rates of population growth but for now it’s still not the largest in population.

Sorry to nitpick but this is GQ…

Hinduism is deeply entwined with the Hindu caste system. Since caste is inherited strictly from father, the Y-chromosomes (which might be considered a proxy for ethnicity) is correlated with caste.

India’s a big place so there are regional variations, but the Brahmin caste are strongly correlated with the R1a1 Y-haplogroup — these are the “Aryan” people who migrated from near the Aral Sea about 35 to 38 centuries ago and brought Sankskrit and their new religion southward. Indians in the Kshatriya caste often have R2-haplogroup.

For a lot of Jews it’s about “ritual” and “tradition” more than belief these days, and probably always for some. Judaism doesn’t require faith, it requires obedience/action/conduct. It’s very different sort of religion than Christianity or Islam even if they do all supposedly worship the same God.

Jew(ish) isn’t an ethnicity. I assume it means Ashkenazi, but could also be Sephardi, Mizrahi, Beta Israel, etc. Not really a 1:1 relationship even if the Ashkenazi are most prominent.

But there are tons of ethnoreligious groups around that are better examples.

Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks are all descended from the same people. They became different “ethnic groups” as a result of the lands they lived on being colonised by three different empires, which had different religions. For a long time they would have seen religion as the distinguishing element between themselves and the other ethnic groups and even today a person who defined themselves as holding the nationality/ethnicity of one group but the religion of another would raise significant eyebrows.

I would nominate the Sikhs as a very strong community that retains significant community and ethnic identity whether or not the individuals are observant in traditional religion, and regardless of how integrated they are into larger populations

Think Zoroastrians would qualify, too - if I recall, you have to be born into the group, you can’t convert. (Probably the most well-known to the public Zoroastrian was Freddie Mercury of Queen).

Jewish is an ethnicity which includes all of those.

You’ll have to really redefine ethnicity. Jews from Yemen and Poland look very much similar to their Polish or Yemenite non Jewish neighbors. And DNA analyses show much of the same, notwithstanding some quite pathetic efforts to find a “Jewish gene”.


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