Is Reconstructionist Judaism essentially atheistic? It seems that they treat Judaism as mere "culture" that they should cherish.

In fact, that's what atheism's view is on most religions: that there isn't really God but people believe in him anyway as a strategy to get along with others. Things like making better society, upholding morality, uniting people against common enemies, properly aligning ones' interests to common goals etc.

Am I missing something?

Some quote from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstructionist_Judaism

Not all of Kaplan's writings on the subject were consistent; his position evolved somewhat over the years, and two distinct theologies can be discerned with a careful reading. The view more popularly associated with Kaplan is strict naturalism, à la Dewey, which has been criticized as using religious terminology to mask a nontheistic, if not outright atheistic, position.

  • Atheism doesn't have a view on most things.
    – TRiG
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 15:46
  • I mean atheism view on most religions. Sorry :)
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 16:37
  • 2
    That's far from the entirity of Reconstructionist thought and is worded rather offensively (that Reconstructionists think others use the concept of G-d exclusively to manipulate people is ridiculous). I really think this question will not get a decent answer here as it's largely an Orthodox crowd, but I suggest reading keddem.org/foot/99-06.html Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 0:43
  • for further reference judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/18790/…
    – rosends
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 4:14
  • I changed the word "manipulate others" to "get along with others". It's the same thing essentially, but it does have different connotation, which is something I often forget. Obviously people often honestly think that their morality is positive while it's often just positive for them and not necessarily for others.
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 11:30

2 Answers 2


There is nothing in reconstructionist Judaism which explicitly claims that god does not exist as a function of its theological underpinings. While, according to this wiki entry, some of the movement's founder's ideas seem to lead to his holding a position in line with atheism, some do not. I would surmise that there are individuals who subscribe to the ideas of RJ and are also atheists, and there are those who subscribe to it and are not. It isn't part of the platform of the movement and adopting the tenets of the movement don't require taking the atheist position.

  • 1
    there are plenty of atheist Orthodox Jews, too. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 0:47
  • 7
    @CharlesKoppelman That depends how you define Orthodox
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 1:02
  • I have been to some Reconstructionist Shabbat services and examined their siddur. God is very much a part of what I saw. Chosenness, on the other hand, has been largely eliminated (e.g. they don't say "asher bachar banu..." in the torah blessing, but I don't remember what they replaced it with). Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 1:08
  • @MonicaCellio I've heard "asher bachar banu im kol ha'amim"
    – Michoel
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 1:15
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio I've heard (and now seen (pdf)) "asher kervanu laavodah v'natan lanu et Torato" Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 1:11

Reconstructionist Judaism is pretty atheistic, yeah. Its founder, Mordecai Kaplan, rejected the idea of a supernatural God or a supernatural anything. He defines God as the force within us to effect our own salvation.

  • 5
    Hello Jordana, and welcome to Mi Yodeya. You could make this answer more valuable by adding a source for Mordecai Kaplan's opinions. I hope to see you around the site!
    – HodofHod
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 5:03

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