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Why do people refer to their religion or culture as their ethnicity?

If I go around asking people what their ethnicity is some would say they are Irish or Jewish or mexican but they would never say white, middle eastern or Hispanics. why do you suppose people do that?

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First of all, "white" "middle eastern" and "hispanic" are not ethnicity. And Judaism is unique in religious groups, in that it's both an ethnic and religious group. Some Jews don't see themselves as ethnic Jews, but do follow Judaism (some Arab Jews, Berber Jews, etc.).
Others see themselves as ethnic Jews, but don't follow Judaism (secular Jews, Christian Jews, Muslim Jews, etc). Jews as a religious group used to rarely intermix with other groups, making them their own people. They identify with Hebrew/Israelite descent as well, and there are different Jewish ethnic groups (Ashkenazis -German jews, Saphardis -Spanish jews, Mizrahis -Middle Eastern Jews etc).
People tend to mix up race, ethnicity, and nationality. Everyone should take a sociology class.

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They don't know the difference, or understand.

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XxM3talAng3lxX

Some people don't know their full-on ethnicity, so they describe it as that way. The whole religion thing is messed up though. Since when do we describe our ethnicity by our religion?

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I guess that could be a possibility
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FunnyLittleFrog

Because Jewish is a background as well as a religion. No one is going to say something general like White or Middle Eastern....that's not a background. It makes perfect sense, really.

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Christians have understood the word of God we have either heard him or felt him my parents were divorced and God got them back together

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I consider Judaism a religion, the Jews as an ethnicity, and Hebrew as a language as well as a race. The Arab is a enthicity, their language is Arabic, and their race is Bedouin (though for many, the name is pan-racial and refers to the use of Arabic as mother tongue).
Therefore, one can be ethnically, culturally, or linguistically a race. All are usually acceptable. Jews may refer to a religious belief when speaking of Jews, but commonly not; most likely, they refer to cultural practice or ethnic background.

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