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Picking up on some of the discussions recently, which religions are Avodah Zarah and why? How does that translate into our relationships with them?

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I reedited as I feel like you took out an important part of the question. –  morah hochman Dec 14 '11 at 20:33
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I don't particularly like your tone, but I will add that to the question. –  morah hochman Dec 14 '11 at 20:38
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Sorry: I didn't mean to be insulting. How about this: "Picking up on some of the discussions recently, what determines whether a religion is considered Avodah Zarah? Does whether it makes statues affect its status as Avodah Zarah? And how does that translate into our relationships with them?" –  msh210 Dec 14 '11 at 20:41
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I like the formulation in @msh210's latest comment. Otherwise, this question seems to be asking for answers to enumerate and evaluate all the world's religions in turn. –  Isaac Moses Dec 14 '11 at 20:47
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Thanks to Shalom for posting the obvious question, I would have done it had I gotten to the computer in time! Thanks Shalom! I deleted it from my question here. –  morah hochman Dec 14 '11 at 23:42
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One would have to look at Wikipedia or elsewhere to see if they worship One God (good) or intermediaries (probably avodah zara) or many gods (definitely idolatry). Some Eastern religions don't have a strong stance on the issue of God, so they may not be avodah zara, though many followers are likely atheists.

Islam is not avodah zarah. Hinduism is. Folk religions in Africa and elsewhere are mostly avodah zara. Buddhism is a philosophy with many varieties so it would depend. Shintosim seems to be avodah zara while Sikhism seems not to be.

See Hilchos Avoda Zara (1:2, 2:1-2).

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Do you have a source for the claim that "if they worship One God or intermediaries or many gods" determines? Also, could you clarify which of those three options count(s) as avoda zara? –  msh210 Dec 14 '11 at 21:31
    
OK, edited it. Rambam, Ramban and others all hold worshiping intermediaries is avodah zara. –  Ariel K Dec 14 '11 at 21:39
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Well it's a question of which religions attribute G-d-like power to physical objects.

Most often it comes up in questions regarding prohibited benefit; for instance a few years ago there was concern that hair for wigs was coming from Hindu rituals. If Hinduism is "avoda zara", then that hair may be prohibited from benefit. (In this case I believe the conclusion reached was that Hinduism as practiced in India is considered avoda zara, but for complex reasons, the hair is not prohibited.)

I've heard different things about Buddhism, in our categorical worldview it may be avoda zara or it may in fact be atheism. (For the little I understand of Eastern practices, I'd assume Shinto rituals are less problematic still.)

Islam, the Bahai faith, Jainism -- all monotheistic, nothing to talk about.

Basically today it only comes up with questions of prohibitions such as entering a shrine, or if a ritual item is prohibited from benefit. Philosophically beyond that ... well our primary focus is on improving our own roles as Jews. It appears that good fences make good neighbors, to a degree.

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Do you have a source for "it's a question of which religions attribute G-d-like power to physical objects"? –  msh210 Dec 14 '11 at 21:20
    
@shalom If it is a question of attributing God like power to physical objects (idols) why would Christianity be Avoda Zarah if it does not do this? –  morah hochman Dec 16 '11 at 15:30
    
@shalom +1. It appears that great distances make good neighbors, to a degree. Those who don't fight jews are those who live far away or are too different from jews. –  Jim Thio Dec 24 '11 at 10:23
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