Do Muslims, Mormons, and Christians Worship the Same God?

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Do Muslims, Mormons,
and Christians Worship the Same God?

Kevin James Bywater

• • •

I would like to explore an important subject with you: the worship of God. I beg your patience as this is a longish post. The inquiry deserves careful and sustained attention. My thoughts are informed yet exploratory. So, with your permission, and with your patience, join me as we explore a very controversial subject.

Do Mormons and Christians worship the same God? How about Muslims and Christians? These questions occupy time in the minds of many just now.



Since 9-11 it has been common to hear that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God, especially given that these three religions are commonly called “Abrahamic religions.” And some would add in Mormons, since Mormonism also resides in what could be termed the Abrahamic tradition.

When I ask Christians this question, most quickly answer in the negative. But a few answer in a hesitating affirmative.

What is the correct answer to this question? Or, alternatively, what if we have asked the wrong question?

A Different Jesus?

There is biblical support for asserting that some may follow a Jesus that is a different Jesus from the true Jesus.
But I Am a Mormon . . . Aren’t Christians Mormons Too? – I implied that since many of the beliefs the Mormon Church teaches about Jesus not only are not found in the Bible but arguably are contrary to what the Bible teaches, Mormons do not worship the Jesus of the Bible. And there is biblical support for asserting that some may follow a Jesus that is a different Jesus from the true Jesus.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; NIV)

However, there are some additional considerations worth pondering as we wonder whether these verses might apply to Mormonism or to Islam or to other religions that teach something or other about Jesus.

On Objects and Objectionable Theology

First, commonly, when it is asserted that “Muslims and Christians worship the same God,” it is assumed that such worship is acceptable to God. After all, it is natural to observe that if people are directing worship to God, then God is the object of their worship. And if God is the object of their worship, then, of course, God is the one being worshiped. This much seems rather obvious.

But these observations merely clarify the object of worship; they do not imply whether that worship is acceptable to God. After all, we might readily agree that not all that people might do in their attempts to worship God would be acceptable to him. For instance, what if people decided to worship God by, say, tying ribbons around their necks. Well, perhaps that would be a bit trivial. How about this: what if people decided to worship God by traveling through their neighborhoods breaking windows and slashing tires (or, tyres, as the Brits might say)? Or, to be a bit more aggressive, what if people decided to worship God by sacrificing their children? What if they decided to worship God by committing adultery?

The point is that not everything that people might enact in their attempts to worship God would necessarily be acceptable to God. In other words, God might disapprove. Indeed, if we take the Bible seriously, God has expressed strong disapproval of sacrificing children, of attempts to worship him with the use of idols, and more. So, if we take the Bible seriously, not all that humans might do to worship God would be received by him as worship. Of some things he not only disapproves but expresses some of the strongest intonations of judgment at such practices and practitioners.

Since not everything humans might do to worship God is acceptable to him, it would seem important to hear from God about what kind of worship would honor him and be accepted by him.

Now, a second clarification is in order. If we were to line up descriptions and definitions of God offered by Muslims, Mormons, and Christians, we would find that they don’t align very well. Muslims and Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity. Muslims and Christians are monotheists while the Mormon Church teaches that there are many gods and that humans can progress to become gods themselves. Both Christians and Mormons affirm that Jesus is divine, though not in the same sense: the Mormon Church teaches that Jesus became a god in the preexistence, that he was a human spirit first who then was exalted and deified. Muslims and Christians affirm the virgin birth while the Mormon Church has taught some things about how Mary was impregnated by God the Father (who himself is an exalted man) that bring into question their conception of virginity.

In light of these differences, some propose that we should cut away the differing views and attempt to find the core commonalities between such religions. Indeed, some suppose that we should find the core commonalities between all religions. I think that is an errant errand, one that could never be successfully accomplished.

It just is the case that what Mormons, Muslims, and Christians (or Mormonism, Islam, and Christianity) say about God cannot all be true. The descriptions and definitions do not align without divergent, even contradictory features. Attempting to equate them or smoosh (a technical term) them all together in one happy blend is a mistaken maneuver.

On Wrong Worship and Blasphemy

Now, given these two clarifications — that not everything offered in the worship of God honors him or is acceptable to him, and that what Muslims and Mormons say about God is not the same as, or compatible with, what the Bible or historic Christian theology say about God — a further consideration is in order.

If we read Paul’s speech at the Areopagus in Acts 17:22-31, we learn that Paul notes that he observed that the Athenians had an altar with this inscription, “To An Unknown God.” Paul then proceeds to declare to the Athenians the identity and nature of this unknown God, the true God, the one and only Creator of all. Paul proceeds to challenge the Athenians’ misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the true God. Their conceptions of God are mistaken. Their idolatry warrants divine wrath. He thus calls them to repentance, noting that God has entrusted the judgment of the world to the resurrected Jesus.

Worshiping God wrongly is tantamount to worshiping the wrong god(s). 
Now, what is notable here, to my mind, is that Paul does not say that the Athenians are worshiping the wrong god. (Now, to be sure, they were worshiping wrong gods as well, given the other altars and idols dedicated to other deities.) Paul rhetorically grants, in effect, that the Athenians are worshiping the true God, though they are doing so wrongly, in an idolatrous fashion. What they say about God is mistaken, the descriptions they ascribe to him are distorting, and their religious paraphernalia is dishonoring to him. Hence, Paul calls them to repentance.

One conclusion we can draw from this is that Paul concedes (at least rhetorically) that the Athenians are worshiping the true God, the right God. The problem is that they are doing so wrongly, falsely, in ways that warrant the wrath of God. And if these observations are correct, then Paul is here tapping into a theme in larger biblical theology.

Ponder this for a moment: Worshiping God wrongly is tantamount to worshiping the wrong god(s). 

It is clear throughout the Bible that worshiping false gods makes one worthy of divine wrath. Just as significant is the fact that worshiping the true God falsely — in idolatrous ways, or ways that dishonor God — also makes one worthy of divine wrath. So, again, worshiping God wrongly is tantamount to worshiping the wrong god(s). 

Blasphemy is found in ascribing to God what is false and in denying of God what is true
Now, this biblical truth corresponds to another, one regarding blasphemy. Blasphemy is insulting God or showing irreverence toward God. It is a species of slander. Irreverence is failing to glorify God or treating the things and thoughts of God in contempt. So, a second biblical truth may be summed up this way: Blasphemy is found in ascribing to God what is false and in denying of God what is true.

In the combination of what we found in Acts 17 and these two  biblical truths we have vital guides in addressing the question of whether Mormons, Muslims, and Christians worship the same God.

Observations Thus Far

Let’s draw together our observations thus far.

First, not everything done for or offered to God is acceptable to him or is honoring to him.

Second, the descriptions of God in Islam, Mormonism, and Christianity are incompatible. Indeed, how Islam and Mormonism describe God is fundamentally incompatible with the Bible. (And this makes sense just on the face of it, given how these two religions criticize the Bible and otherwise offer alternative scriptures.)

Third, in biblical theology, worshiping the true God wrongly is tantamount to worshiping the wrong god(s). (This is well illustrated when Israel creates a golden calf at the foot of  Mount Sinai. They made an idol of the true God. Their idolatry was deemed the worship of false gods, thus breaking the second commandment prohibiting the making of images of the true God.)

Fourth, in biblical theology, blasphemy is found both in denying of the true God what is true and ascribing to the true God what is false. Both bear false witness of God; both dishonor him.

Now, let’s ponder these observations further concerning the question of whether Mormons, Muslims, and Christians worship the same God.

Right or Wrong Referent?

Imagine that you and I meet and begin to describe a man who lives down the street from us. This man’s name is Tom. He lives in an apartment complex at the end of the street. As we offer each other our descriptions of Tom, we find that our descriptions diverge. In fact, they not only diverge, at some points they are downright incompatible.

Now, it could be that one or both of us has some erroneous information, or that we misunderstood something. It is also possible that, at least at some points, we are aware of different things Tom is or does or wears or eats. As such, perhaps we could harmonize our thoughts and descriptions. But if we find that our descriptions actually are incompatible, then we could not both be correct (though we might both be incorrect). Now, without exhausting this illustration, there could be several reasons for the differences.

First, in an apartment complex, we could imagine two men with some similarities and some differences. It may become more reasonable to believe that we are speaking of two different people named Tom. We could imagine making the mistake of supposing we were speaking of the same individual when we actually were speaking about two quite different individuals.

Second, we might also imagine that some of our views were gained through direct contact and others through hearsay or errant inferences. Thus, we might be referring to the same person but be doing so with pronounced misunderstandings, misinformation, or mistakes.

So, it might be that we are referring to two different individuals named Tom. But it might be that we are referring to the same individual and that either or both of us has gotten something wrong about him.

And how would this apply to our discussion?

Well, on the one hand, it is possible — given the conflicting descriptions supplied by Muslims, Mormons, and Christians — that we are worshiping different gods, that we have different referents).

However, on the other hand, it is possible — just possible — that all three religions indeed are referring to the one true God, that they are directing their worship to the one true God. Even so, each would agree, I suspect, that not everything that everybody ever says about God is true. And each would agree, I should imagine, that whatever the other religions say about God, when it conflicts with or contradicts what they say about God, is false or mistaken or confused, at best.

What we cannot rationally infer, however, given biblical revelation, is that it does not matter what we say about God or what we do in our attempts to worship him. And not one of these religions has asserted (to my knowledge) that we can say anything we would like about God, that he is honored by whatever we say or do for him, or in his name, or that whatever we would like to offer in worship would be acceptable and honoring to him.


Where does this put us with regards to the question of whether or not Christians, Mormons, and Muslims worship the same God?

To my mind, we simply cannot know whether we are worshiping the same God — whether we are directing our words and worship toward the same referent, the same God. Bear with me, now. Please give me a moment to explain. It may very well be that the referent of our words and worship is identical, the one true God. But even if that is so, the content of our words and worship is not identical.

However, given the content of biblical revelation — how God has revealed himself to us — we observe that both Islam and Mormonism depart from biblical revelation, ascribing to God what is false and denying of him what is true. As such, their teachings, conceptions, and practices dishonor him. As controversial or objectionable or offensive as this may be, given biblical revelation, one cannot but conclude that Islam and Mormonism deny of God what is true and ascribe to God what is false. They blaspheme God.

The significance of this should not go unnoticed: if worshiping the true God falsely is tantamount to worshiping false gods, then we can infer that, on the one hand, if we are worshiping the same  God (if we have the same referent), Islam and Mormonism are advocating false worship. Again, worshiping the true God falsely is tantamount to worshiping false gods.

So, whether Mormons or Muslims are directing their words and worship toward the true God may be an irrelevant inquiry, in one sense. Asserting that they do could be either false, or trivial, or ultimately blasphemous. What we can know is that (some of) what Mormonism and Islam say about God is false and misleading and dishonoring. At best, their words and worship distort the truth about God, and the reality of his revelation to us, and thus they dishonor God.

A Pragmatic Postscript

In light of this long discussion above, permit me to offer a personal and pragmatic note. When I am asked whether Christians and Mormons, or Christians and Muslims, or Christians and Jews worship the same God, I tend to gauge the moment to see whether I have time to explain.

If I have little time, I tend to say that we do not worship the same God. I say this simply because it just is the case that what Muslims and Mormons and Christians say about God is not the same. And when my time is short, I want to be clear that what these religions say about God is neither identical nor compatible, and thus that one cannot rightly infer that all is well, and that all will be well come future divine judgment.

However, if I have a bit more time to explain — to discuss some the observations that I have noted above — then I’m quite happy to note that we might not know whether or not we worship the same God. Merely having the same referent (directing our words and symbols and actions toward the same God) does not imply that what we say about God is true and honoring, or that saying and worshiping God in ways that are dishonoring to him are acceptable to him.

So, in practice, I could answer the question, Do Muslims, Mormons, and Christians worship the same God?, with either a “yes” or a “no,” depending on how I measure the opportunity. And it seems to me that this is very useful in practice, given that worshiping the true God falsely is tantamount to worshiping false gods. 

(This essay first was published on this blog on 17 July 2012. As published above, it has been modestly edited.)

For Further Reading

(added on 21 December 2015)

While the essay above may be quite enough to process for now, if you care to read further on the subjects of Mormonism and Islam as I have written about them on this blog, perhaps the best places to begin for both are the following posts. These posts have links embedded for other posts I have published here or elsewhere. I trust they will provide some further clarification on these contentious and controversial subjects.

While the essay above may be quite enough to process for now, if you care to read further on the subjects of Mormonism and Islam as I have written about them on this blog, perhaps the best places to begin for both are the following posts. These posts have links embedded for other posts I have published here or elsewhere. I trust they will provide some further clarification on these contentious and controversial subjects.

For Mormonism, there is no better place to begin that with the post, Why Do I Write So Much about Mormonism? It provides extensive links and a list to other blog posts, as well as links to some recommended book.

For Islam, there are two posts I could recommend: Sharia, Ballet, Mosques and Damp Socks and Islam, Refugees, and the Kingdom of God. Both posts provide extensive links to relevant posts on this blog.

For some insights into what we are reading and exploring at Summit Oxford (a study abroad program I direct in the United Kingdom), you can see the reading list for the 2016 spring term.


23 thoughts on “Do Muslims, Mormons, and Christians Worship the Same God?

  1. As you know were touring SE Asia at the moment (and enjoying it). It’s currently Ramadhan so fasting (and it would seem feasting) is in order. Following a lengthy exchange at the national mosque in KL with some evangelical Muslims, we left with a range of interesting literature which I’ll show you up our return! This in a round about sort of way is why I read this post – it seems to me that the status of ‘revelation’ ascribed to the Koran, would mean that your argument above would scan in the positive for the Muslin, who would simply take the Koran as the test of what is true and false in other religions. There is a fundamental epistemological problem with the notion of ‘knowing God’ that simply choosing ones preferred sacred text does not offer a satisfactory answer to……..

  2. Hi Simon: I’m looking forward to your return to the U.K., and to our conversations. And I appreciate your brief thoughts.

    Indeed, others might reason analogously that Christians have dishonored God by what we have said about him. That is what Muslims have asserted to me, and what Mormons have intimated as well (especially in how both traditions object to the Trinity).

    The thoughts I offered above are not intended to be an argument to establish the truth of Christian convictions. Rather, they are a contemplation of alternative views from the perspective of my Christian convictions.

    To move from here toward establishing the truth of our Christian faith, and thus a challenge to competing views, would require quite different work. I believe that work has been provided by others. And I agree with you that simply selecting one claimed revelation and treating it as authentic fails to establish that revelation as authentic.

    Again, I look forward to our conversations.

  3. Jesus talks over and over again about being the only way. God says The Father, Son and Spirit are One. What exactly is your conclusion implying ? The Koran says very different things. Joseph Smith is not mentioned in the old or new testament. I understand the need to be PC, but we are getting ridiculous.

    • What an interesting comment. May I ask you a few questions? First, where in the essay did I suggest that Jesus is not the only way of salvation? Second, where did I deny the Trinity, or monotheism? Third, I think both the reasoning or the conclusions of the essay were rather transparent, if a bit nuanced. Sure, the Qu’ran does not teach what the Bible teaches. Did I say otherwise? Sure, Joseph Smith is not mentioned in the Bible (nor is he or Muhammad prophesied in the Bible to come forth).

      Perhaps the strangest part of your comment is the implication that what I am attempting to be is Politically Correct. Wow, I’ve never been accused of that in my entire life. That is just about the strangest assessment of this essay I could imagine. Just how do you think I was being PC? Whom I did affirm? What sort of relativism was proposed? If you can point to anything, I’d be keen to know and to reconsider what I’ve written.

      Thank you for your time.

  4. kevin,
    Having become a catholic I can emphatically say that mormons are not Christians and they do not worship the true God or the true Jesus> Their God is a finite, material, mutable being who is not a creator but an organizer. Muslims is harder because great muslim medieval thinkers like Ibn Sina (Avicenna) do speak of God like we do but then they deny the incarnation ( rather a text, Qu’ran is the incarnate word). Lets keep up this conversation

    • Hi Richard:

      Yes, as a Christian who also is a former-Mormon, I agree with you, at least in part. Of course, I did not claim that the Mormon Church is a Christian church, or that Mormons are Christians. I’ve written quite a lot on these facets of this subject, much of which has the aim to rebut such assertions of identity. And I also agree with you that what the Mormon Church teaches about deity does not match up even approximately with biblical revelation or orthodox theology. And I note your proper hesitance with regards to Islamic theological convictions as well.

      However, my aim in this post was not to claim that Christian, Mormon, and Islamic theologies can somehow be mushed together and identified. No, my aim is much more reasonable, if more nuanced and subtle. It is merely to point up the possibility that what Mormons and Muslims say about God could have the true God as the referent. But even if so, that would not imply either that what they say is correct, or that if their referent is the true God, that their assertions thereby become acceptable or approved. Hence my remarks on blasphemy and wrong worship.

      So, to my mind, it is just possible that we share the same referent — namely the one true God — while what is said about him can be demeaning and dishonoring, and what is performed in his name may be idolatrous and abominable. If so, then what they say about the true God would be false, though (assuming an identical referent) what they say, would be said falsely about the true God (and not about some alternative referent). Such assertions could thus be termed “lies” and “falsehoods” precisely because they have as their referent the one true God.

      Might this clarify?

  5. Orthodoxy, by definition is the “right way” or “right glory”, in other words, Orthodoxy is THE right way to worship. Where the church remains in communion with other jurisdictions and has for thousands of years, keeping the same Apostolic Traditions as were kept in the first couple of centuries, worship outside of the Churches traditions are NOT Orthodox or ‘the right way to worship’.
    Orthodox worship can even be seen in ancient American Indian Traditions, to which I can attest to, being first Dine’ and secondly, being Orthodox. Do we, the Dine’ and the Orthodox worship the same God? This question can ONLY be answered from a subjective point of view, it must be experiential and in the opinion of many, the answer is, yes. However, when one looks at major religions it is very clear to see that there many perversions and differences, that unless reconciled to The Church and Her traditions, whether written of, spoken of, taught or learned, as is the Apostolic Tradition (as well as the tradition of the Dine’ and other American Indians) they are in fact worshipping wrong and whether or not they are worshipping the Same and/or True God becomes of no consideration, because as you have stated above, it automatically manifests itself as Idolatry.

  6. This was explained by St. Thomas Aquinas several hundred years ago.

    Christians and Muslims worship the same God, because “worship” is an act of natural justice that takes as its referent a god who is the object of natural reason. As long as we believe the same things about God, as can be deduced by natural reason, we are worshiping the same God. Reason tells us that God is immaterial. I’m not sure that in Mormonism, God is immaterial. If God is a material substance in Mormonism, then the Mormons do not worship the same God.

    Faith or belief, on the other hand, is a supernatural act that requires us to know who God is, and how He wishes to be worshiped. Muslims and Mormons do not believe in the same God as Christians. Essential to who God is, is the Trinity.

    • So, if I understand what you are saying, I’m hearing that people could worship the same God though without believing in the same God. It is subtle, but I would tend to agree, at least hypothetically. But I would dispute that someone who held that God is an essentially material being, as does Mormonism, therefore could not direct worship to God. I think it entirely conceivable that the belief be incorrect whilst at the same time be asserted (incorrectly) of God. Hence the notes regarding dishonor and blasphemy.

  7. I can’t tell you how many of these uppity articles that claim to be so expert on Mormonism I have read. I am Mormon and as you know we have no paid clergy we don’t believe you have to go get a degree before you can preach the gospel of Jesus. I don’t find that in the Bible.
    I say that because I do not claim to know all but I would just ask that the spirit of the Lord the Holy Ghost bear witness to the truth here and not the teachings of men.
    In the past I have used scriptures from the Bible to buttress our beliefs that are judged un-Christian to the book smart judges of truth like you. And when I say book smart I don’t include the Bible because a lot of what you parrot is Christian commentary or interpretation of the Bible. I think what I shall do here is go by reason behind our interpretation of the gospel of Jesus.
    Its really hard not to quote scripture because some do come to mind as Amos 3:7 where God clearly says he does nothing save he reveal his will to his servants the prophets. When you don’t have the literal guidance of God’s prophets you end up with so many different flavors of Christianity so many differing churches all using the same Bible. Do they all have the authority to perform ordinances vital to salvation such as baptism? Remember Christ deliberately sought out John the Baptist for his baptism only he had the authority to baptize the Christ. Did Christ show by example that we too should seek out one with the authority to baptize? Does that authority come only with a PHD in our day? If ever we needed a prophet from God would it not be the last days where the world would be hostile to all good? Would God love those of old more than us to provide them with prophets and not us at the end times? My point being we testify to the world that the heavens are not closed and revelation has been is and always will be a loving God’s blessing to his children. God the author of all truth in all fields is not limited to one book. All truth comes from God all truth is known by God and he if he wanted to could have a gazillion books of his wisdom and knowledge. We have to clarify what we mean by being a prophet of God. Its not someone that prays on TV and has a word that someone in Tennessee just got healed or an Evangelist knocking people over in a stupor with a touch of his hand. It is so late for me and I need to sleep so I am rambling a bit sorry. I am not a writer so I do the best I can to sincerely share what I feel and know but it is such a vast topic. I feel overwhelmed to describe with the written word here to be fair to the reader and the topic. So I will make one point and close. God describes himself as our Father. Jesus instructs us to pray “Our Father which art in heaven”. Our Heavenly Father is a wordsmith of all wordsmiths he know the meaning of words and was specific to the relationship between us his children and himself our Father. He could have left it at I am God and creator the living God and so forth without ever mentioning himself as our Father. The title or meaning of Father is not changed when used in scripture? Is it? No, we are his children and he loves us unconditionally. God reveals to us our sacred relationship he is our Heavenly Father we are his children what does that imply? It implies first that relationship is unchanging forever and always that will not change but his will is that we are perfect as he is perfect. And only God is perfect right? If we are saved and make it to our saved state by grace does being a child grow to be like the Father? He commands us to be perfect to one day receive ALL that the Father hath. The words God used explains perfectly the relationship and its progression for us to be with him in heaven as perfect and having ALL that the Father has. Yes, we believe God is our Father and thus we his children; that is revealed by the Savior in the Bible and we can by obedience to the gospel and taking Christ as our personal Savior by grace only will we progress to well beyond what we as mortals can imagine. Lastly to make any comparison to the Qu’ran and the book of Mormon is to me diabolical. Dear reader if you want to know about the Book of Mormon then read it. Its that simple you don’t have to take my word or anyone else’s. God bless us all with everything going on we have to fend off falsehoods and claims of blasphemy. Merry Christmas everyone.

    • Hi Arpad:

      Greetings from England (though I am an American).

      It is so fun and natural and satisfying to rant in digital fora. Honestly, I can understand you taking offence. I can even understand you being downright contentious (as you are). I used to be a Mormon (a fifth-generation Mormon who grew up in Utah), so I can sympathize with your perspective. But my learning isn’t, as you have supposed and asserted, mere book learning. (You really shouldn’t judge others like that.)

      I imagine (though I am not certain) that if we were to chat about these things in person, the conversation could be much more civilized that your comment was. It made me think of a conversation I had with a Mormon friend here in Oxford a few years ago. Again, he is a Mormon. I’ve summarized our conversation in this post, if you would like to read it: .

      If you would care to correspond about these things, or even to speak by phone sometime, let me know. As time permits, I would be delighted to correspond or speak with you – that is, as long as you are a bit more inclined to avoid your contentious accusations and your prejudgments.

      Kind regards,

  8. Kevin, might I offer a couple suggestions? 1. “Is” in the first paragraph in Conclusion should obviously be “us.” 2. The last sentence in the eighth paragraph under Right or Wrong Referent is confusing and needs clarity. Well written otherwise.
    Roy Myers

    • Thanks, Roy. I am my worst proofreader. I simply don’t do cant very well. (More seriously, thanks for the heads up on this. I’ve attempted to fix both.)

  9. In your introduction you mention Jews along with Christians, Muslims, and Mormons — but the rest of your post doesn’t address Judaism.

    Your post concludes:

    “What we can know is that (some of) what Mormonism and Islam say about God is false and misleading and dishonoring. At best, their words and worship distort the truth about God, and the reality of his revelation to us, and thus they dishonor God.”

    Does that conclusion apply to Judaism as well?

    • Yes, AndyS, I should think so. The essay originally focused only on discussing Muslims and Mormons and Christians. The topic has become of wider interest in recent weeks and the question of Judaism has been included. But I should think that the conclusion would apply to Judaism as well, though perhaps not in the same way.

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