Updated: Oct 9
Monotheism Psychology, and Authoritarianism
Hostility in the Middle East has been an ongoing issue practically since human history had begun recording itself in detail. The issues that have plagued humanity since the beginning of recorded history still resonate to this very day with the ongoing wars in Iraq, Syria, Israel and basically the entire region from Eastern Europe to the Russian/Asiatic border and beyond. More recently in the past 100 years the Jewish culture, religious outlook, and heritage has flocked back to the Holy Land of Hebraic religions, Israel. Post World War 2 era, the Jews were trying to recover from the horrendous persecution, discrimination, and genocide the Nazis perpetrated onto the Judaic culture specifically in the regions of Europe. The European Jews had suffered millions of deaths and the culture practically became extinct, causing a longing to reunite and preserve the European Judaic Ideology. Looking to their roots in Israel, the Jews decided to reunite with their Holy land the Torah so eloquently described as the “Land of God” post-World War 2. Upon arrival to the Holy Land of Israel, the Jews found that millions of Arab Islamic descendent groups had colonized the lands of Israel over the last 2000 years. From the Jewish perspective, the Islamic patrons were an “out-group” and the Jews were quite literally and figuratively an “In-group” (both in and out group could be defined from a social psychologist definition and a more literal definition since the Jew’s were “in-grouping” or colonizing themselves into Israel and “out-grouping” the native Islams), prompting one of the longest modern day religious and regional feuds in human history. Fast forwarding to modern times, the Islams (Palestinians) have been pushed to a segmented area of Irael called the “west bank”, and the Jews populate most of Irael at this point prompting feuds between the two cultures. Moreover, many other religious outlooks that stem from Hebraic outlooks such as Christianity have felt the call to colonize “The Holy Land” which has further pushed tensions of “in-grouping bias”, Discrimination, Social Dominance Orientation to between Jewish cultures and any other religious outlooks. The acts of the Jewish Israeli government quite possibly could be breeding Authoritarian outlooks among their youth, appeasing to the “ultimate attribution error theory” and breeding xenophobia within the Israeli population.
Living in modern day society it is difficult to ignore the news and scientific studies that seem to draw our attention with headlines like, “brand new study just released” or “25 more people killed in the Middle East.” Recently in the last 6 months NBC news posted an article a couple weeks after an event called “The Holy Fire Ceremony” depicting police violence against peaceful practitioners and emphasizing how the Government officials of Israel are actively discriminating against “out-groups” such as Christians and Islamic Practitioners inside the boarders of Israel (Lederman, Pinson 2023). The article also points out the Israeli government actively is trying to pass bills against Christian proselytizing as well as creating attendance maximums on Christian run events like “The Holy Fire Ceremony”. These acts ultimately can point to active and overt discrimination among Jewish elite and Government officials inside Israel. This ultimately is breeding Right Wing Authoritarianism and Authoritarianism in general among the youth of Israel, prompting young Israelites to actively cause more violence against any “out-groups” that do not conform to the Jewish cultural outlooks. Ironically in the same article by NBC, (Lederman, Pinson 2023) they point out 2 young Jewish Israelites that vandalized Orthodox Christian grave stones and were later apprehended by Police.
Not even 2 years previous, the Jewish community of Israel gathered over 100,000 people at a location called Mont Meron, which the Government permitted, which ultimately killed over 40 people (Kershner, Nagourney, Ives 2023). More recently and annually, the Jewish community has tens of thousands of Judaic practitioners flock to the West Wall as an annual religious practice, Pass Over (ABC news 2023). The evidence clearly suggests that the Israeli Government is committing an “in-group bias” against any other culture or religious outlooks than Judaic perspectives. Moreover, the Israeli Government could also be committing “ultimate attribution error” because they gave the Jewish community an exception to the rule of having a large population turn out for an event, while only permitting 1,800 Christians to another event. These conclusions ultimately lead one to believe that the Israeli government is “Authoritarian” or is governing from an “Authoritarianism” standpoint due to its ethnocentric and rigid beliefs on other religious cultures.
From a more academic and psychological standpoint, the statistics for “in-group bias” stands at a scientific and statistical level. Recently in 2012 a group of psychologists performed a set of experiments that exposed participants of Christian, neutral and Islamic heritage to certain words “priming” reactions towards attitudes and value-violating “out-group” religious and cultural perspectives (Johnson, Wade, Labouff 2012). The set of words were aimed towards “neutral standing”, “Christian standing” and “Islamic standing” associations. The study showed that people who were exposed to words that did not align with their religious and cultural beliefs did in fact show more negative attitudes towards out-groups and in-group favoritism. This study exemplifies that religious beliefs and outlooks drive “in-group” favoritism and can drive governments that are ruled by specific religious outlooks to create implicit prejudices and discrimination within Government policy. This study could also indicate why Israeli Government officials would be more open to having 10 thousand people attend A West Wall even focused on Jewish celebration, while restricting Christian events to 1,800 people. The two celebrations are word combinations that are associated with specific religious and cultural outlooks that could identify with “in-group” and “out-group” favoritisms causing prejudice in policy formation and execution.
As the world grows larger in population and the geographic real estate opportunities for cultural isolation becomes smaller, getting along with different cultures and religious outlooks will be key in the preservation of the human race. Part of creating a copacetic existence on earth is through accepting others differences and finding commonalities in each culture. Rather focusing on what is different, cultures should focus on what is the same. Part of the human condition is rooted in “Social Dominance Orientation” or the need to have a specific group to dominate over another. This social psychology theory is so in rooted in the human psyche it even expresses politics and our economic social structures. Some strategies that can deconstruct this idea of separation is realizing a superordinate goal. From a religious standpoint, such as the Judaic, Islamic and Christian feuds and circumstances, the superordinate goal could be that they all are Monotheistic and worshiping a “One God”. No matter the different Prophetic outlooks or symbolic representations of worship all three religious outlooks do worship an eternal single source of manifestation. If each religious perspective could realize their common monotheistic attitude and outlook, Judaism, Christianity and Islam could all work towards the worship of “One God”. Once this common goal is realized then each culture may better be able to congenialize with each other causing less implicit and explicit prejudice and discrimination.
A couple other methods that align with the “superordinate goal theory” is “Jigsaw Class room methodology” and “imagined intergroup contact theory”. Both of these other theories inadvertently align with the “superordinate goal” indirectly, as each one is a subtle form of a “superordinate goal”. The Jigsaw class room theory could be applied to a religious context because if each religion used their own “codes to and of worship” to unlock and understand the broader picture, they could possibly create a new unified religious out look or create a more diverse way to understand Monotheism. Imagined intergroup contact is also a great way to integrate diversity and change societal because if cultures are isolated from eachtother the means of finding common ground becomes smaller and smaller. In an ever shrinking world, isolation is almost unheard of, making intergroup contact inevitable.
Creating “out-groups” and “in-groups” is rooted in Sociobiologic study and Genealogy creating ethnocentrism which is instrumental in prejudice, discrimination and xenophobia. Encountering strangers and people we are unfamiliar with is just a fact of life and rooted possibly in survival instinct. Part of growing in a socially and psychologically is moving past what could possibly be ingrained in our genes means many years and generations of refinement towards a more accepting culture and way of life. Social psychology will be instrumental in breaking down the boundaries that create prejudice and unifying the human race in a peaceful and comprehensive way from Government policies to religious and cultural outlooks.
Johnson, M. K., Rowatt, W. C., & LaBouff, J. P. (2012). Religiosity and prejudice revisited: In-group favoritism, out-group derogation, or both? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 4(2), 154–168. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025107