Poll: Rabbis believe Internet hurts religion
Research conducted by Holon Academic Institute of Technology reveals that many Israeli rabbis think media hurts religious values. Fifth of haredi rabbis are connected to Internet, while half don't read daily papers. However, all rabbis endorse freedom of speech, press
A great majority of the rabbis in Israel – 87 percent of the haredi rabbis and 82 percent of the national-religious rabbis – believe that the Internet hurts religious values. Almost half of the non-Orthodox rabbis, 47 percent, share this opinion, a research conducted by Dr. Yoel Cohen of the Holon Academic Institute of Technology on rabbis' stances' towards the mass media in Israel revealed.
The survey included more than 300 rabbis of all religious stripes – haredi, national-religious, Conservative and Reform rabbis. The study was presented at a recent international conference on media, religion and culture that was held in Sweden.
The research showed that 95 percent of Orthodox rabbis believe that the press significantly hurts religious values, while only 31 of the non-Orthodox rabbis supported this claim. Similar data were found regarding the rabbis' stance towards radio, cinema and theater.
According to the study, 74 percent of haredi rabbis and 87 of national-religious rabbis have a computer at home, although only 22 percent of the Orthodox rabbis and 56 percent of the national-religious rabbis are hooked to the Internet.
The research also examined the rabbis' exposure to the daily newspapers, and revealed that half of the haredi rabbis do not read a daily paper.
The rabbis were also asked whether they believe that the media should report on crimes committed by rabbis. While all Reform and Conservative rabbis replied positively to the question, only 23 percent of haredi rabbis and 59 percent of national-religious rabbis gave a positive reply.
Most of the rabbis said they support the public's right to know: 97 percent of Reform and Conservative rabbis, 77 percent of the national-religious rabbis, 45 percent of haredi-national rabbis and 41 percent of haredi rabbis, agreed "to a large extent" or to a "very large extent" with the public's right to know.
The freedom of the press was also largely endorsed among the rabbis, although to a lesser extent. Rabbis born in Anglo-Saxon countries tended to acknowledge this right more than rabbis from other countries.