Trend Watch

Discrimination 'Anathema to the...Religious and Personal Freedoms Upon Which This Country Was Founded'

The word was once a synonym for 'excommunication'

Anathema (“someone or something intensely disliked or loathed”) spiked after the Orthodox Union, the largest association of American Orthodox synagogues, and the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest association of Orthodox rabbis in the country,released a joint statement in response to Trump's executive order closing the nation to refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries:

The Orthodox Union, the largest association for American Orthodox synagogues, acknowledged the complexities of fighting terror, but said "discrimination against any group based solely upon religion is wrong and anathema to the great traditions of religious and personal freedoms upon which this country was founded.”
Associated Press, 29 Jan. 2017

The Orthodox Union joins the Conservative and Reform movements of Judaism, as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Church World Service, and more than 2,000 other faith leaders, in voicing their disagreement with the refugee order.

Anathema has been in use in English since the early 16th century, when it was adopted from the Latin and Greek. In Greek anathema shifted from meaning “anything devoted” to “anything devoted to evil.” The Romans used the word to refer both to an excommunication or to the person who had been excommunicated.

The word was initially used in ecclesiastical senses in English. However, in the 17th century it began to be employed in the fashion which is prevalent today, indicating strong negative feelings to a thing, person, or concept, and which may be unrelated to matters of faith or religion.

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