The ultra-Orthodox members of any religion – Judaism in particular – find themselves in a new kind of problem. Building walls between themselves and the outside world has always been a good strategy for nourishing religious contents, as silly as they may be. Alas, here comes the end of the 20th century with television, cellular and Internet, and things will never go back to what they were before.
The World Wide Web is especially useful for promoting any shit idea one may think of, but for obvious reasons – actual scientific ideas succeed more in this game. I mean, you can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool everybody all the time. In the beginning many religious scholars thought they might also use this new channel for their missionary work of bringing back innocent surfers into the Middle Ages. Actually they have certain progress with such efforts.
However, as technology also progresses, they find it ever more difficult to keep their own flock away from this easily-available channel. The result? Probably thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel alone, who are now far from being religious. Internally, that is. On the outside they still appear to fulfill all the “Mitzvahs” – the religious commands, which make their life miserable. Why? Because it’s not so easy to lose one’s connections with his or her family, often also lose the source of income and all property. Sometimes it’s just not easy to change a way of life, even if one doesn’t believe in many things anymore. Many though make the extra step and come out of the religious closet officially.
At the same time, many go the other way. This is how young people’s mind is built – they often look for the “meaning of life” before they look for the meaning of “meaning”. Add some religious political power that pours lots of money into religious education, and you end up with thousands of young people starting to talk to “God” on a daily basis.
So which trend will prevail? It’s really hard to tell. I don’t think anyone really measured the numbers – maybe it’s not even possible. We’ll just have to wait and see if this article is eventually censored.