In This Research Essay, I Will Attempt To Make Clear Why Some Believe The United States Is, Or Should Be A Â€œChristian Nation,â€ Why Christianity Is So Prevalent In American Society, And How Being A Christian Nation Affects Our Governance.
Religion has affected us in ways that seem to clearly implicate, throughout our nation’s history that to many we, the United States of America, are viewed as a “Christian Nation.” Many believe this notwithstanding our constitution and government policies which clearly state a separation between “church and state.” In this research essay, I will attempt to make clear why some believe the United States is, or should be a “Christian Nation”, why Christianity is so prevalent in the American society, and how being a Christian nation has affected and affects our governance.
The United States of America or, “New World,” was founded when many English settlers became fed up with the Church of England. Many of these settlers thought of the New World as an escape from religious persecution and a life sans religious freedom. These settlers were known as puritans, English Protestants who regarded the Reformation of the Church of England under Elizabeth as incomplete and sought to simplify and regulate forms of worship (Puritan). As from the beginning in 1630 as many as 20,000 Puritans immigrated to America from England to gain the liberty to worship the Judeo-Christian God. They chose America as a Religious Refuge. Although these settlers came to the New World for religious freedom, what they defined as religious freedom still supported the Old World theory that sanctioned the very same religious persecution they faced in England, the need for uniformity of religion in the state (America as a Religious Refuge). The relationship of church and state did not assume great importance until the Revolutionary period. As the number of dissenters and their political needs increased, and as Enlightenment ideals gained ground among certain political leaders, complete religious freedom emerged as a common goal for a heterogeneous group of the Virginians (Early Virginia Religious Petitions).
The Declaration of Independence brought about major ties between England and America, the document also, in the process, further weakened the power that The Church of England had over Americans. America established its own constitution that clearly defines a separation of church and state as an individual right for its citizens. Separation of church and state is defined as the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state (Separation of Church and State). Deism is the belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe (Deism). Our founding fathers, many of them deists, realized that without this separation of church and state, federal government would not be able to operate without religious interference. For example, if a Muslim wanted to emigrate to the U.S. they would most likely face challenges and religious persecution if they were not barred from becoming a citizen. This is among the reasons; much of the U.S. is diverse ethnically, culturally and religiously.
Today, Christians make up well over the majority of the U.S. population. 78.4% of Americans identify as Christian, with only 4.7% identifying as another faith and 16.1% unaffiliated with any religion (Summary of Key Findings). With a large population of followers, Christians make up such a large majority and hold major political power; many believe that the U.S. is a Christian Nation. By this definition the United States of America is a Christian nation but the constitution limits the amount of influence our government can accept from religious institutions and groups. These limitations allow minorities, such as Hindus, atheist, agnostics, Muslims, etc. to have the same rights extended to the larger Christian American population afforded to them.
As said in the film, judgment day, “If someone believes in God, heaven, and hell, nothing else matters except for their religion.” People want to make sure that they display an image that is pleasing to God to make sure that they are able to rejoice with their family members in the end. This example has been prevalent especially in an area known as the Bible belt, where Christian religious extremist have performed acts of both violence and discrimination against those who they deem unfit unto the eyes of God.
As Tunis Wortman said, “the church is naturally “permanent and external” and needed no external support to “prop it up.” In summary, if you monetarily contribute to a religious organization you don’t have to pay as much as you had to in taxes. Our federal government provides you with a federal/state refund check. There has never been real separation of state from church as per regards to history and present form the special tax concessions that the government is offering the churches.
Many religions demean other religions and put them as being backward and awkward especially Christians, such as our LGBTQ population, ployamourous relationships. It is very necessary to ensure protection of these citizens from the abuses that the religious beliefs promote. The constitution puts across that there will be no granting of special rights or privileges to any religious group that takes away the rights of citizens with different beliefs. This is in contrast to what is happening at this day and age; to this day that America, a nation deemed to be “the free nation” still grants some of those special privileges to Christian groups at the expense of taking away the rights for millions of Americans with different beliefs. With this kind of hierarchic religious inequality can we in any way distinguish ourselves from high religion influence countries such as Bangladesh or Iran? An interesting aspect from the assigned readings was from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that states “no person can be compelled to attend any church or support it with his taxes. An individual is free to worship as they please with no discrimination.” This has clearly outlined that even if a citizen wants to use their tax paying/ dues to support a religious organization, they could not. This can only be hoped for to be true all over America today. Unfortunately today, Churches have become nonprofit organizations that receive special write offs from the government, where the members come and donate communion or other forms of money offerings to the church and then at the end of the year they receive a document that allows them to receive all the money they donated to the church back from the government.
In America, The Guilded age changed the focus of most of “Christian America” from a spiritual focused belief to one that is more of a wealth and power accumulating group. The Protestant work ethic was “turned on its head” Advertisers persuaded Christian Americans to work more to buy more, focusing more on materialistic values than the spiritual value of the religion. It appears that this is when the corruption of Christianity by the gospel of wealth occurred. It was at this time where mainstream Christianity became more secular and Christian American life was incorporated into the church and not deemed as wrongful.
Having had watched these two movies in previous classes of yours, I was glad to watch them again and try to view them and take on the information presented in a different manner. With the additional information, one is able to have an overview of just how much America has changed over the recent years and it also helped me see how much a religious president has an impact on the strength of that presidents religion. When President Bush was president children grew up with prayer and religion in schools. In that generation, religion and public institutions mixing were a common thing. We can well conclude and undoubtedly claim that America clearly, has overwhelmingly been controlled by people with strong religious beliefs. And due to the fact that America is a “Christian Nation,” as long as they are enticed by leaders who possess the “Jesus Factor” we will cease to progress to the nation we strive to be.
“America as a Religious Refuge:” The Seventeenth Century – Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions Library of Congress. 23 July 2010. 07 March 2013. < http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel01.html>
“Deism.” Definition of in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English). N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2013. .
“Early Virginia Religious Petitions.” Petitioning in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2013. .
“Puritan.” Definition of in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English) New Oxford American Dictionary, n.d. Web. 12 March 2013. .
“Summary of Key Findings.” Statistics on Religion in America Report. The PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, 13 Aug. 2007. Web. 16 Mar. 2013. .
“Separation of Church and State.” Definition of in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English) New Oxford American Dictionary, n.d. Web. 12 March 2013. .
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