Religion in Sierra
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Religion in Sierra reflects a diverse and broad range of groups and faiths, but is most predominantly expressed in Christianity, historically, the Protestant and the Catholic traditions. With its history rich with religious movements and developments, a significant portion of Sierrans continue to report religion as an important factor in their lives, a phenomenon unlike most other developed countries.
According to the 2010 Census, about 84% of Sierrans identified themselves as Christian, one of the highest percentages in the world, while 10% professed explicitly having no religious affiliation at all and less than 1% not disclosing a religion. In terms of church attendance however, only about 47% of Sierran Christians reported themselves attending on a "regular basis" with these numbers declining over the years. About 64% of Sierrans are affiliated or identified with any of the Protestant denominations or Evangelical movements, with the largest Protestant faiths by membership being the Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Episcopalians, and Pentecostals. Catholics constitute over 15% of the Sierran population with the majority of Sierran Catholics being members of the Roman Catholic Church. 5% of Sierrans belonged to other Christian groups including the Orthodox branch, and nontrinitarian movements including Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses. All other faiths, which include Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Canaanism collectively comprise the remaining 4.6% of Sierrans.
At the Kingdom-level, the Charter for the Kingdom of Sierra does not specify any provisions related to religion other than that it relegates such matters to each of the three constituent countries. In the constituent country of Sierra, the Constitution of Sierra explicitly guarantees the freedom of religion and establishes the doctrines of secularism and separation of church and state, and prohibits the establishment of any state churches in the country. Similarly, in Hawaii, the separation of church and state is enforced through its Constitution. In the Deseret, while the Organic Act permits the exercise of any religion, it officially recognizes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its state church, whose hierarchy and organization is integrated into the government itself, thus making the country a theocratic state, although the Deseret describes itself as a "theodemocracy".
Overview[edit | edit source]
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Religion has had a profound influence and effect in Sierra throughout its history. When Sierra was claimed as Spanish territory, its first significant development was the establishment of the Spanish mission system, a network of religious outposts operated by Franciscan Catholic priests. Aside from its purpose of cementing Spanish presence in the region, the missions were created specifically to spread the Catholic faith and Spanish culture onto the local natives, many of whom who were forcibly converted into the Church. New Holland, which remained outside of Spanish detection for nearly the entirety of its existence, promoted its own state church, the Dutch Reformed Church. The Russian Orthodox Church also had a presence in northern Sierra at the Russian outpost of Fort Ross.
Although Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1822 and completely secularized and dissolved the Spanish mission system by the 1830s, Catholicism remained an important aspect of life in Sierra. One major requirement for foreigners to live in Mexico as a citizen was to convert to Catholicism. However, the majority of settlers who came into Sierra were Protestants from Brazoria and the United States. Refusing to comply with the religious requirement, illegal Protestant churches and prayer groups were formed, much to the ire of Mexican authorities. Following Sierra's own independence from Mexico in 1848, both the Republic and the Kingdom included religious liberty in their respective constitutions, a legacy derived from the history of religious freedom in the United States. By the late 1850s, Protestants had outnumbered Catholics 6 to 1, with most of the Catholics being the Californios who had lived under Mexican rule. The gold rush the nation experienced in 1849 brought a wider variety of foreigners from all regions of the world. Consequently, new faiths were introduced, most prominently Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Shintoism from Asian immigrants.
Constitutional statuses[edit | edit source]
The Kingdom of Sierra was founded as a secular state which lacked a state church and was consciously committed to religious pluralism, although an active movement during the Kingdom's infancy to create a Protestant state church exited and lasted up until the 1870s. While the Constitution of Sierra prohibited the federal government from establishing a state religion or church, it is silent on whether or not if provinces have the power to create their own churches. In addition, through several cases overseen by the Supreme Court, the Court has consistently viewed that the lack of any prohibition meant that establishing a state church was an unenumerated, prerogative right of the provinces. However, only four provinces: Clark, Maricopa, Plumas, and Shasta, have ever passed laws establishing a church, and all four official churches have since lost such political status by 1921 (when the Church of Clark, a Methodist church, declared independence from the provincial government).
In 1950, through the establishment of the Charter, it separated the Kingdom of Sierra and Sierra as two distinct entities, where the Charter would apply to both, but the Constitution would only apply to the latter. Since the Charter itself had none of the protections enshrined in the Constitution, including the freedom of religion and separation of church and state, such provisions would need to be implemented in the other two constituent states (Hawaii and the Deseret) for such protections to hold de facto prevalence across the Kingdom. While Hawaii adopted the same religious protection measures as the Sierran constitution had, the Deseret did not and made The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its official church. Since then, the Church and government has been inseparable, with the President of the Deseret also functioning as the President of the LDS Church. Despite countless of constitutional cases challenging the legality of such union, the Supreme Court has upheld the official union between the Deseret government and the Church.
In all three countries, the freedom to exercise and practice any religion or none is guaranteed by each of the national constitutions, with guaranteed protections for all religious organizations which are recognized by the governments as a valid form of faith. In Sierra and the Deseret, no public office may require religious tests as a prerequisite or determinant of eligibility for prospective candidates or officials. In the Deseret, through the Lehite Code, most political posts are exclusively open to Mormons, as officials must be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in order to assume and maintain office. Although religious civil liberty is extensive, it is by no means, absolute. Through the years, the Supreme Court has declared that although the spectrum of beliefs, no matter how extreme, may not be infringed upon, the extent of practices can be curbed. For instance, although an individual may be free to believe that human sacrifice is an acceptable form of observing their faith, they are free to do so, but they cannot act upon such belief solely due to their faith.
While most religious organizations enjoy tax-exemption status, some religious bodies have been denied such privilege by the government, primarily due to the latter not recognizing such organizations as religious in nature. The most prominent case is the Church of Scientology, which the Sierran government has consistently denied tax-exempt status to on the basis that the organization is a business, and not a religion. In the 1998 landmark case Gonzalez v. Church of Scientology, the Court made a distinction between Scientology and the Church of Scientology, which declared the former a systematic body of beliefs and practices (and thus a religion), while the latter was an organization that was Scientologist in nature but failed the Hölderlin test (a four-prong threshold test used in Sierran courts to determine the validity of what constitutes as a religion or religious organization). It ruled that while governments cannot limit or prohibit religions or beliefs, it could for religiously-based organized bodies, which in this case, was the Church of Scientology, which in the Court's view, operated more closely to a private enterprise, and was thus, denied tax-exemption.
In Sierra, despite enforcing secularism, there are clear Judeo-Christian roots and connections underpinning the system. For instance, most public offices require an oath to be taken, many of which may include the phrase, "So help me God", or similar iterations, although the inclusion of such references to God are completely optional. In addition, references to a general creator-God are mentioned within the Constitution, and in other public documents. Public officials and bodies, irrespective of faith, have often used the expression, "God bless Sierra" or "God save the Queen" to convey goodwill and patriotism. Christmas and Easter, two Christian holidays, have official status as public holidays in the Kingdom, although other religious groups are permitted to take days off on their holy days.
Abrahamic religions[edit | edit source]
Christianity[edit | edit source]
By far the largest religion in Sierra, Christianity accounts for the majority of Sierrans (81.4% of the population). Of the Christians, 63.7% of Sierrans in 2010 self-identified themselves as Protestant, 15.5% as Catholics, 0.2% as Eastern Orthodox, 1.4% as Mormon, and the remaining 0.6% were affiliated with another Christian denomination, or nondenominational. Christianity had always been prominent in Sierran culture, and was introduced into the Americas through European colonization. Although early Sierran history was denominated by Catholicism, Protestantism eventually emerged as the prevailing religious tradition in the Kingdom during the mid-18th century as Anglophones immigrated into Sierra (then known as California, and displaced the local Hispanophone Catholics.
The majority of Sierran Christians attend church infrequently, with only about 49% polled reporting church attendance on a weekly or monthly basis, although up to 90% attend at least once a year (generally for Christmas and/or Easter services). However, compared to most other developed nations, religiosity and weekly attendance among Sierran Christians is higher than elsewhere in Anglo-America and in Europe. In 2010, 58% stated that religion was "very important" to them.
Protestantism[edit | edit source]
According to most historians, the consensus holds that Protestantism has an inextricable link with Sierran culture and history. Protestant churches, leaders, and adherents have been involved with all aspects of Sierran politics, businesses, entertainment, technology, arts, music, and science. The majority of Sierran prime ministers, legislators, judges, and governors have Protestant backgrounds, and most of the country's leading corporations, institutes of higher education, and health care systems have been founded by Protestant denominations or individuals.
Historically, Protestantism was introduced into Sierra during the Anglo-American immigration into the region, then-known as California under the rule of Catholic Mexico. Settlers brought along with their various Protestant traditions, among them, the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Anglicans (as Episcopalians) into the Kingdom, keeping them in defiance of official Mexican policy which demanded immigrants to adopt Catholicism as their official religion as one of the prerequisites to qualify for legal residency and citizenship.
Following the Mexican-American War and the independence of Alta California as the Republic, the Protestants outnumbered Catholics four to one, and by the time the Kingdom was established, Protestants constituted as much as 85% of the country's population. In both California, and then Sierra, the national constitutions upheld religious freedom and plurality, which were adapted from earlier Anglo-American documents and practices in Protestant-majority nations. Protestant clergymen and religious leaders held an immense influence over national politics in the emerging kingdom, and were represented in virtually every political organization and party. While immigration from outside America initially saw larger numbers of Catholics (particularly the Irish and Southern Europeans), the massive influx of Asian immigrants were comprised of individuals who were more receptive to Protestantism thanks to proactive missionary efforts construed by evangelical leaders. The Holiness movement and Pietism also had a strong influence on Protestantism in Sierra. Social justice against perceived vices and moral decay rallied pious Protestants to the polls, and brought about change in the country's laws and attitudes.
The development of charity networks, private Christian schools, and social clubs encouraged the spread of Protestantism to non-Christian immigrant groups. Aside from numbers, Protestants were better-equipped in converting immigrants for economic and political factors. Protestant Sierrans tended to be more affluent than their Catholic counterparts, and were more likely to live in the suburbs, rather than the city, and were therefore more tolerant of ethnic minorities who typically did not work similar jobs or live in the same area of the middle-class Sierrans. Most Catholic immigrants were Irish who saw the other immigrants as competition for low-pay jobs. Consequently, Protestantism was heavily involved in mending the Sierran Cultural Revolution, and was identified as the "Western" aspect of Sierran neo-culture by Mark Culler in his book, Comparison of Western and Oriental Thought, and was the choice faith for Asian-Sierran converts.
Protestantism consistently played a conscious and perpetual force in Sierran politics, often being closely tied with social conservatism. While Catholics were evenly split between Democratic-Republicans and Royalists, Protestants, which the notable exception of Styxers, were overwhelmingly Royalists, despite inadvertently backing a predominantly Catholic monarchy. Even among Democratic-Republican Protestants, most are conservative Styxiecrats, and have more readily supported social positions on tradition, marriage, and abortion compared to other religious groups as a whole.
In face of the emergent progressive movement that arose during the 1960s which was antithetical to the traditional Protestant culture, religious Protestants mobilized politically during the 1970s and 1980s, and formed the bulwark of the Moral Right movement. Conservative Protestants dominated the Sierran national and provincial level during this later stage in the Cold War. During these two decades, Protestantism in Sierra underwent a radical transformation as it saw the rise of the modern Christian evangelical movement, the development of right-wing Christian fundamentalism, and stronger ecumenism between different Protestants, and with Catholics and Jews as well.
Evangelicalism[edit | edit source]
Evangelicalism refers to a trans-denominational movement within Protestantism which upholds the belief that personal conversion and acceptance of God is necessary (as a "born again"), affirmation for the Bible as a historical text, keen observance to biblical authority, and an emphasis on evangelism, as well as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is often described as middle-ground between Liberalism and Fundamentalism. Contemporary Sierran culture has been heavily influenced by Evangelicalism and its adherents have played critical roles in all aspects of Sierran life and history, especially during the Sierran Cultural Revolution and the decades that have succeeded it into the modern age. Today, Evangelicals comprise roughly about a third of Sierra's entire population.
The trend towards Evangelical churches in Sierra began during the Second Great Awakening as religious revival swept across Anglo-America and Restorationist and Pietist immigrants arrived to Sierra, allowing evangelical communities and churches to take hold in the region. Evangelicalism became the principal religious force behind mostly Royalist politics, who tended to vote against the mostly Democratic-Republican liturgical Christians including the mainline Protestants and the Catholics. They dominated every aspect of Sierran society, and were involved in the various societal reforms undertaken during and after the Gilded Age into the Cultural Revolution.
The largest Christian evangelical church in Sierra is the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which had 7.7 million baptized members in 2017, accounting for nearly 10% of the national population. The next largest evangelical church is the Sierran Baptist Fellowship, which had 6.8 million members.
Mainline Protestantism[edit | edit source]
The mainline Protestant denominations are the Protestant denominations that originally arrived to North America from Great Britain and Continental Europe. The denominations were generally tied to a particular nation or ethnicity, thus, their adherents in Sierra comprised primarily those who followed family tradition and ethnic affinity. The largest are the Episcopal (English), Presbyterian (Scottish), Methodist (English and Welsh), and Lutheran (German and Scandinavian). Mainline Protestantism dominated the religious landscape of Sierra during much of the 19th and early 20th century, before its numeric strength and social clout declined in the wake of Evangelicalism's rise, Catholicism's resurgence, and the emergence of secularism.
Mainline Protestantism accounts for only a quarter of Sierra's population. Roughly 1 out of 3 Protestants are affiliated or identified with a mainline Protestant denomination or church. Similar to other Anglo-Americans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians tend to be the most affluent and well-educated religious group, and have historically dominated leadership roles in academia, business, politics, law, and entertainment. In addition, nearly 60% of all Nobel Prize Laureates came from a mainline Protestant background.
Compared to evangelical churches in Sierra, mainline Protestant church leadership and membership tend to be more socially liberal. Acceptance towards a number of social changes including the ordination of women and LGBT individuals has increasingly become commonplace practices by the churches. Voters who identify with mainline Protestant churches have historically been Royalists. Since the 1990s, following the rise of the Christian right in the Royalist Party, most mainline Protestants now register with the Democratic-Republicans, Social Democrats, or independents.
Fundamentalism[edit | edit source]
Fundamentalism is a particular strain of Protestantism that emerged as a movement within Anglo-America and spread into Sierra during the late 19th and early 20th century. Catholic traditionalists have sometimes been included as Christian fundamentalists due to overlaps in beliefs and hostility towards modernist theology, theological liberalism, and cultural modernism/postmodernism. Fundamentalists generally believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, including the Genesis creation narrative and the imminent, physical Second Coming of Christ. Although Fundamentalism is occasionally conflated or interchanged with Evangelicalism, they are not identical.
Fundamentalists have influenced and shaped the politics of conservatism in Sierra, particularly that within the Royalist Party, a party which has traditionally been dominated by mainline Protestants. During the 1980s, the rise of the Moral Majority and the Christian right propelled Christian fundamentalism to the forefront of Sierran politics and culture war. It has been especially popular among middle-class white and Asian households, and according to the Lewis Research Poll, Fundamentalists account for approximately 40% self-identified Evangelicals.
Catholicism[edit | edit source]
During the Spanish colonial and Mexican periods, Catholicism was the predominant religion in Sierra. Although this status was soon displaced by Protestantism during the Anglo-American-centric Californian Republic, Catholicism remained strong among Sierra's Spanish speakers and other ethnolinguist groups including the Sierran Jacobites.
Sierra has a rich Catholic tradition. The famous Marian apparition of Our Lady of Catalina, as well as the sainthood of Spanish monk Junípero Serra are inseparably linked with Sierra, and serve as the foundational hallmarks of Sierra's indigenous Catholic culture and traditions. The Catholic faith would also later become associated with the Monarchy of Sierra, whose institution was founded around the Catholic Charles I and his family who, paradoxically, ruled over a Protestant-majority nation. Although anti-Catholic sentiment was rampant throughout Sierra, Catholics found refuge in urban communities and exercised extensive mobility in Sierran society. Catholicism grew again during the late 19th and early 20th century through immigration from Catholic-majority nations such as Ireland, Italy, Poland, Mexico, and Tondo. The increase of Catholics caused tension with the Protestant majority, and the sectarian divide could also be seen along socioeconomic and political lines. Catholics tended to be poorer compared to their Protestant counterparts, and tended to support the economic policies of the Democratic-Republican Party. More well-established Catholics successfully integrated with Sierran society, and tended to gravitate towards the Royalist Party, partially in support for the Catholic monarchy. Some Catholics aligned themselves with the Royalist Party of Sierra, which supported the Catholic monarchy, and Catholic party members found themselves allied with likeminded Protestant urbanites and industrialists. Other Catholics, most notably Irish and Italian Catholics, were generally Democratic-Republicans, who felt ostracized by the Revolution. These Catholic groups mistrusted the monarchy for an institution that they perceived was too friendly with the Protestants at the expense of fellow Catholics. Since then, the percentage of Catholics in Sierra has stabilized at around 15%, with the largest centered in the Saintiana region and Eastern Sierra.
Traditionally, five ethnic groups in Sierra have been categorized together as the "Big Five" (or Six) peoples who overwhelmingly identified themselves with the Catholic Church: the Mexicans (now more broadly Latinos and Hispanics), the Channeliers (now Franco-Sierrans), the Irish (now merged with the Sierran Jacobites), the Jacobites, and the Sierran Creole. Modern categorizations have combined the Irish Sierrans with the Jacobites (which also includes Sierrans of Scottish heritage who are not part of the Jacobite community) as one group, whilst adding another group: usually either the Banatians (also known as the German Swabians) or the Tondolese. Other significant Catholic groups include the Italians, other Latin Americans, and Poles. Since the Second Western Schism in 1934, Catholicism in Sierra has been divided between loyalty to Rome and Catholic Church – Avignon along mainly ethnic lines. The Jacobites, Franco-Sierrans, German Swabians, and others with a predominantly Western European heritage have supported Avignon whereas Latinos, Creoles, Italians, Tondolese, and Eastern Europeans such as the Poles and Greeks have maintained allegiance to Rome. Within Sierra, while both churches are both officially registered as the Roman Catholic Church (and only legally distinguished by their geographic center), they have colloquially been referred to as the Roman Catholic and Avignon Catholic respectively, and sometimes pejoratively as "Romanists" and "Avignonese". The Avignonese is the larger of the two Catholic communities within Sierra, accounting for more than 60% of the Sierran Catholic population.
The Roman Catholic Church – Avignon in Sierra is administered by the Sierran Conference of Catholic Bishops (SCCB), made up of the hierarchy of active and retired bishops and archbishops of the Kingdom of Sierra and its territories. Nonetheless, each bishop is independent in their own diocese and is answerable only to the Pope. The counterpart under the Roman Catholic Church – Rome is the Bishops' Conference of Sierra (BCS).
In both the Avignon and Rome divisions, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Porciúncula is the primatial see of Sierra, and both versions of the seated archbishop there enjoys primatial status who takes precedence over all other relevant bishoprics in the Kingdom. For Avignon, the current Archbishop of Porciúncula is José Echevarría Valasco and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels serves as the seat of the archdiocese, while for Rome, the current Archbishop is Emanuel Reyes Sotello, whose seat is in the Cathedral of Saint Junípero.
While the influence of the Catholic Church was significantly curtailed by the Mexican, Californian, and then Sierran governments, the Church continued playing an important role by opening charities, universities, social work programs, hospitals, and other institutions that serviced the general public. Today, combining both Rome and Avignon, there are 26 Roman Catholic universities and colleges, with over 400,000 students and some 20,000 professors. Catholic schools educate approximately 600,000 students, and employ around 37,000 teachers. The Catholic health care system also accounts for the largest group of nonprofit health systems, operating 56 hospitals.
Roman Cardinal Archbishop Michael Zachary Hyde of Sierra was elected to the Roman papacy, as Pope Ignatius on March 13, 2013.
Latter-day Saint Movement[edit | edit source]
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a nontrinitarian restorationist denomination with 9.5 million adherents living in Sierra. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City and its central administration, the Council of the Church (the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve) form the central government of the Country of the Deseret. The Church's followers are commonly referred to as Latter-day Saints or Mormons, and constitute the majority in the Deseret, pluralities in Washumko and Eureka, and high percentages in Flagstaff, Apache, and Cornerstone.
The Latter-day Saint Movement traces its origins to New York-born Joseph Smith, a man whom is regarded as the Church's founder and a prophet of God. Followers of Smith accompanied Smith and his associates to Illinois before Smith was killed by a mob in 1844. After Smith's death, there was a leadership succession crisis between Brigham Young and James J. Strang. Strang and his followers prevailed and founded the modern Church, moving their operations to the Deseret. Today, more than three-fourths of the Deseret's population claim heritage from the Mormon pioneers who settled there under the leadership of Strang.
There are a number of other Latter-day Saint Movement groups outside the Church's authority that exist in Sierra including the Community of Christ, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Followers of these groups are primarily concentrated in the southeastern Sierran provinces of Apache and Flagstaff, as well as rural parts of southern Deseret.
Others[edit | edit source]
Groups of Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Ethiopian Christian immigrants brought Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy to Sierra, where the majority of immigrants settled in northern Styxie during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, Eastern Christian communities are primarily located in the rural parts of Plumas, Shasta, Reno, and Tahoe. A number of Eastern and Oriental churches are represented in the country including the Orthodox Church in America, the Armenian Apostolic Church in Sierra, and the Coptic Orthodox Church in Sierra. There are also Sierran dioceses belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church. Congregations belonging to the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches such as the Maronite Church are also present in Sierra and concentrated in Los Pacíficos. The Russian Mennonites, who are denominationally Anabaptist, also came and settled northern Sierra in a similar manner as the Orthodox and Oriental Christian settlers.
Nom-denominational Restorationist movements such as the Christian churches and churches of Christ and the Jehovah's Witnesses have also had an established presence in Sierra and are generally classified as nondenominational, rather than Protestant. Such groups are more visible in urban and suburban communities where congregants gather in houses of worship that serve over a large territory.
Judaism[edit | edit source]
Judaism is the second largest Abrahamic religion in Sierra, accounting for 5.5% of the population, with estimates between 3.7 million and 5.0 million Jews living as of 2014. Nearly two-thirds of Sierran Jews identify with the Jewish faith on ethnic and cultural grounds, rather than for spirituality. A significant number (roughly 19%) of Sierran Jews do not believe God exists. A 2017 survey estimated that around 35% of Sierran Jews were regularly practicing the Jewish faith, while 46% were non-practicing cultural Jews. The remaining 19% were adherents of religions other than Judaism itself.
The earliest recorded Jews in Sierra were Sephardi Jews who settled in the Dutch colony of New Holland, after they were expelled from Dutch Brazil during the late 17th century. The New Hollander colonial administration promoted a policy of religious tolerance and thus allowed Jewish believers to congregate freely and openly. Elsewhere in colonial Sierra, Jewish settlement was met with ambivalence to outright hostility. Sephardi Jewish migration from Spain and Latin America was the main source of Jewish Sierran immigration, where they faced political and social discrimination by the Spanish colonial government and by the predominantly Catholic populace.
Large-scale Jewish immigration, mainly of Ashkenazi Jews, began during the mid-19th century, starting with the Gold Rush. Immigration intensified during the 1880s due to religious persecution in their European homelands. Most Jewish communities were established in the Greater Porciúncula Area or the San Francisco Bay Area, two regions which continue to have the highest concentrations and numbers of Sierran Jews in the modern age. Other metropolitan areas, particularly in Phoenix, has seen rapid population growth in Sierran Jews. According to the 2010 Census, the City of Beverly Hills in the Gold Coast has the greatest Jewish population per capita, where they constitute nearly 65% of the total population, of which 25% of the population were ultra-Orthodox Jews.
According to the Sierran Religious Data 2017 survey, 29% of Sierran Jews were Reformed, 41% were Conservative, 17% were Orthodox, 3% were Reconstructionist, and the remaining 10% being nondenominational or secular. The survey noted that although the percentage of secular Jews appeared low, the true percentage may be higher as respondents were asked which denomination they affiliated with most whether religious or cultural. In a separate survey conducted by the Anglo-American Demographics Research Center, when asked if belief in God was essential to Judaism, 68% of respondents believed it was not. In addition, 75% did not believe being a religious Jew or not had any bearing on one's Jewish identity. Despite the prevalence of secularism among Sierran Jews however, there has been a recent trend in secular Jews returning to religion (known as the baalei teshuva movement). There is also a notable number of Sierran Jews who convert to Christianity while retaining their Jewish ethnic and cultural identity. Jews are also well-represented in Buddhism as well, accounting for over half of the religion's converts in Sierra, following similar patterns elsewhere in Anglo-America.
As an ethnoreligious group, Sierran Jews are, on average, among the highest formally educated and economically affluent communities in Sierra (when measured by household annual income). They are disproportionately well-represented in certain fields such as law, business, education, and entertainment.
Orthodox[edit | edit source]
Orthodox Jews make up approximately 17% of Sierran Jews. The largest communities of Orthodox Jews are located in Porciúncula, Gold Coast; San Jose, Santa Clara; and Henderson, Clark. Of Sierra's Orthodox Jews, 17% were considered to be Haredi. Historically, Orthodox Jews constituted the majority of Sierran Jews but by the mid-20th century, the Orthodox hegemony waned as Sierran Jews joined Conservative, Liberal, or Reconstructionist congregations, and non-Orthodox Jewish immigrants continued moving in. Orthodox Jewish movements have emerged in attempt to preserve the Orthodox way of life and faith in a modernizing society.
The Chief Rabbinate of Sierra, based in Porciúncula, is formally recognized by the Crown as the rabbinical body of observant Orthodox Jews in Sierra. Manasseh Evan Ascherman is the current Chief Rabbi, who was appointed by the Rabbinical Council of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of Sierra. The Chief Rabbinate, together with the Rabbinical Council, administers the nation's kosher certification agency and beth din. The Chief Rabbi is nominally regarded as the spiritual leader of Sierran Orthodox Jews. The Chief Rabbinate shares close ties with the State of Israel and its status as a semi-official organization has been a controversial issue over the separation of church and state. It has faced a number of legal challenges, mainly from other Jewish organizations, contesting the Chief Rabbinate's recognition as a gentrified trust and semi-official governing body.