A consistent theme throughout the articles we have been reading is the religion means something different to everyone in and out of practice. Religion as a series of symbols, stories, experiences, and community appeals to different people and different ways. I am convinced that each person no matter how devote has a different interpretation of their religion or lack of. This week a three-year-old visited Rome and the Vatican City with her family. Those in the Pope’s presence and throughout the holy city, were there with some understanding of the religious significance. The toddler on the other hand had no experience yet to help her understand the significance of the city she was in let alone the man who she was being introduced to when she took his skull cap. Laughter erupted. Estella’s actions were funny because of the innocence behind the action. In a sense this was an action of undeveloped religion. Without understanding the stories or symbols denoting the significance of the pope Estella could not be expected to act according. This story clearly shows that one is not born with religion, but religion is acquired over time.
O’Sullivan, Donie. “Girl Meets Pope. Girl Steals His Hat.” CNN. Cable News Network, 22 Mar.
- Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S Supreme Court has been announced to be Neil Gorsuch. With a long history serving on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Gorsuch is clearly qualified for a position on the U.S Supreme court. Taking a look at his record, Gorsuch has upheld constitutional values regarding religious freedom. In one case Gorsuch defended a company’s right to deny health care coverage based on the beliefs of their faith, a controversial issue. Though, Gorsuch has also been noted to be a modest man, close friends, family, and co-workers expressed similar sentiments, stating the Gorsuch was typically reserved about his beliefs, but expressed those beliefs in his actions, specifically through his compassion for those around him. Gorsuch and his family are known to attend a “largely liberal [church] in a largely liberal city”. Growing up Gorsuch was raised catholic and attended mass regularly, but as he grew up he and his family have been attending regularly and have played an active role in church services St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is relatively liberal in practice. If Gorsuch is to officially be appointed the 9th seat on the U.S Supreme Court I would be interested to see how he balances his church practices with his practice of law and how each influences the other.
Mark K. Matthews | Mmatthews@denverpost.com and John Frank | Jfrank@denverpost.com | The Denver Post. “What Neil Gorsuch’s Faith and Writings Could Say about His Approach to Religion on the Supreme Court.” The Denver Post. N.p., 12 Feb. 2017. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.
Mass has forever undergone a series of transformations, simple ones such as the priest facing the audience during mass, to more extravagant additions like blaring music and dance. This week, two presentations stood out to me, Shared Parish and Reinventing American Protestantism. One more than the other showed how traditional practices are changing in order to better engage the audience by appealing to different demographics of people based on either generational upbringing, or ethnic background.
Reinventing American Protestantism displayed perfectly how church has changed traditional service in order to engage a different generation of people. The new energetic movement of the uprising protestant church directly target the baby boomer generation in every aspect of its mass. Key attractions of the new style of mass are, reduced structure and a new age approach to delivering the sermon. The reduced traditional structure of mass includes expressing passion and one’s love of Jesus through loud music and lively dance rather than sitting quietly as a priest delivers the sermon. The preacher himself is not bound by traditional dress or lecturing styles. As the video presented depicted, the preacher has full creative liberty. These new programs have become increasingly popular and have grown substantially because of how appealing they are to the different generations.
In Shared Parish traditional mass in the United States has evolved to appeal and included those of different worshipping and language backgrounds. The anonymous parish reflects several across the country that have adapted, sometimes under contentious circumstances, to the increasing population and growing communities of immigrants.
In order to maintain its presence, churches must continuously adapt their appeal to keep membership. The two presentations this week show how just a couple of churches are adapting to the new age.
The social role of religion has long gone back and forth. Northern Ireland is a prime example as to how religion has and continues to divide people and tear societies apart. Across Northern Ireland the struggle between the Catholics and Protestants is clearly expressed in street art we saw, but the divide goes deeper influencing the development of different communities and the political structure as well. The argument could be made that though the larger community is torn apart, the smaller contending communities within are brought closer together. In contrast where religion tears societies apart, religion also holds societies together. Civil religion unites societies as it has done in the United States. The historical mythology of the United States binds citizens together, like the heroic stories of George Washington or Johnny Appleseed in the early legends of bravery surrounding the pioneer day. Civil religion is reflective of the society on a general basis, allowing each person to relate to the mythology and values at a rudimentary level and then build upon that belief, like American Exceptionalism. To each person of the United States American Exceptionalism means something different, but overall it is a general sense of pride and superiority of the United States, uniting the public behind that idea. Passionate Journeys further emphasizes the impact of religion to build a community. Women from all walks of life came and joined together around a singular belief system that has largely unified a previously nonexistent community. Whereas God Needs No Passport, contributes to the idea that conflicting outlooks on different religions threatens the societal makeup especially in the case of Alice in a particularly developing part of Massachusetts.
Donald Trump made a commitment during his campaign to repeal the long standing Johnson amendment. This amendment was added as a provision to the tax code in 1954, signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. In practice the amendment has been used to restrict non-profit organizations including churches from endorsing or opposing a political candidate at the coast of losing their tax-exempt status. Though passed by a republican Congress and president, religious leaders today believe repealing the Johnson amendment would give way to a conservative christian revolution. The basis of repeal is that the amendment violates free speech. This argument has been taken to court several times over and the courts have not agreed with the statement. Therefore, should Trump use presidential power to repeal the amendment he would be, again, overstepping his role as the President of the United States.
In class we have taken not of two key factors playing in this case. The first is, specifically in Chaves, that the correlation between regular church goers and conservative political values has strengthened in the past years. Repealing the Johnson amendment, I believe would cultivate that relationship. Second, in the most recent movie we have seen, the Baptist families are consumed by their religious practices and lives and see the outside world as a threat and sinful. The conservative Christian battle against the outside world is coming to light. If the Johnson amendment were to be repealed conservative Christian groups could not just condemn the workings of the outside world, but actively influence its politics.
(Peters, Jeremy W. “At the Divide of Church and State” The New York Times 3 Feb. 2017 A17. Print. 8 Feb 2017.)
Across the United States religious groups have been changing in beliefs and practices in order to adapt to modern times. Different changes among different groups tend to be classified as either liberal or conservative based on attitudes towards adapting tradition to cultural changes, interpretations of the bible, and the organizations views of working with other religious groups. The evolving environment of traditional church life has led to a decrease in literalist, but also an increase in people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, a considerable change to traditional church life in the United States. As had been present in the past the correlation between church goers and those who hold politically conservative or republican values has persisted, and in more recent times strengthened. Since 1992 the correlation between religiously active people and those who hold conservative political values or identify as republican has strengthened. Specifically, the correlation between weekly church attendees and political outlook on abortion, premarital sex, and homosexuality has strengthened at differing rates. In regards to legal abortion in any case regular church attendees have become significantly more conservative, though in regards to premarital sex and homosexuality, regular attendees have either remand the same of have even become more liberalized about the subject since the 1970s. The overall regular church going population though is still considered to be more conservative than not. In a greater sense, these trends continue to enforce that the shifting religious trends across the United States has a far reaching influence in all aspects of a person’s life.
After 70 years as king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away in October of 2016. Many Thai- U.S citizens recount the late king as a man of the people, for he reset precedents that had separated the monarchs of Thailand from the people. Before Bhumibol Adulyadej kings were distant figures, the average person wasn’t even allowed to make eye contact with the king. After 7 decades as king and 30 prime ministers Bhumibol Adulyadej amassed a legacy based on his willingness to relate to people by kneeling down to speak with them on his adventures through the land.
Since his passing many people of Thai descent here in the United States have expressed great pain and shock spanning generations. Thousands of Thai Americans gathered at Buddhist temples across the United States to observe the 100th day since the kings passing there many people recounted their memories of the late king and his legacy, and dedicating themselves to preserving his memory.
The unity among the Thai Buddhist community in this time of morning is symbolic of the brief history Thai- Buddhist people have in the United States. Whereas Protestantism and Catholicism both have long standing history across this land the Thai- Buddhist community has yet to be diluted by American culture.
Measuring religiosity in the developing American culture today in a truly meaningful way presents many problems, but from each difficulty, new information is uncovered. As recommended by Chaves, many survey respondents say they attended a religious service in the past week in order to assure the pollster of the person’s commitment to religion. Outwardly and traditionally, commitment to religion is expressed in service attendance. Though in regards to the information provided by the time journals allocated to respondents previous to the interview a majority of respondents who said they went to service, didn’t.
Many information collection methods are narrow in their understanding of the modern world. Certain question regarding religious services as church, automatically alienates any respondent belonging to a religion who attends any other religious service like synagogue, temple, ect. Either way religious service attendance is any way you look at the information gathered decreasing or in the least stagnant in the United States today. Again go back to the first week of class we heard from several students how their parent’s religiosity impacted their own throughout their childhood and their practices and commitments today. Comparatively to national data the information presented to us that day was hardly different from that of which we have read this weekend, non-religious parents turn out on average less religious children and vice versa with variables and special circumstances to be considered of course. I’d like to explore further what exactly compels people to falsely state that they have attended a religious service regularly or just in a single week in order to defend their religiosity. How exactly has this been reflected in our own class discussion regarding religion? In what other ways do people defend their religiosity unconsciously and daily?
The religious landscape of the United States has been forever determined by immigration and migration. Among Native Americans sharing and shaping the earliest of belief systems and in more recent history travelers coming through Ellis Island and across other boarder points have all contributed to the religious landscape we know today. Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump though may interfere with the natural development of this religious landscape. Recently, Trump has released order that are foreshadowing the construction of a physical wall along the U.S – Mexico border. These orders included beefing up immigration patrols along the long standing fence in place today, revoking government grant money from cities serving as “sanctuary cities”, and the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants. President Trump claims he is targeting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes while in the United States, but fails to detail a plan that doesn’t clearly target the masses regardless of a criminal history. Trump has also added that undocumented immigrants who have not accumulated a criminal history, after being deport, could potentially return to the United States after an “expedited process”. The entire idea behind Trumps recent executive order is to strengthen boarder security.
As we all know the United States was founded on religious freedom. The religious landscape of the United States has been shaped by this idea throughout the centuries, taking many different forms and leaving us today with the rising and falling tides of religious affiliation. Most interesting is the ever-increasing percent of the population of the United States accepting religion yet denying affiliation with a recognized church or structured religious association.
Reading an overview of today’s religious landscape show that the United States, as it has been historically, is made up of a majority Protestant population with a falling 70.6 % followed by a rising 22.8% unaffiliated. Many would argue that religious freedom meant, and may still mean, the freedom to practice any protestant religion. As seen in the religious makeup of the representatives in national government the unaffiliated population in the United States is under represented, according to one set of data based on people verbally associating themselves with a religious organization. This is problematic because due to developing correlations between political parties and certain religious groups people with differing political views from those associated with their religious groups affiliation may prefer to respond “none” to a pollster as a way of distancing themselves from connected political views, but in practice still follow any given religion. Overall this phenomenon is increasing the difficulty to quantify the religious landscape in the United States. So person to person what does “religiously unaffiliated” mean. Unaffiliated with religion all together or the developing political context of religion.