This week’s reading from Mark Chaves, “American Religion”, discussed a lot that had to do with the immergence of more diversity throughout church congregations. I found that very interesting to read because I have never noticed a lack of diversity throughout my own personal congregations, however I definitely do see how that would be the case for other churches. I typically see how certain religions draw one primary ethnicity due to that religion (probably) starting within a certain geographical region. As religion is becoming more diverse, I think that not only has to do with the topic of immigration, but also another topic that Chaves brought up which was that Americans have become more accepting to different religions and have grown a stronger appreciation for them, as well. I think these 2 ideas go hand in hand because as we see how racism is still very much alive in parts of this country, religion is able to be a unifying subject for many people. Religion is obviously a personal belief, and in America the idea is that we are able to practice whatever religion we please. Though there is much argument whether that is true or not, according to statistics in Chave’s book, there is more of an appreciation and acceptance of other religions, not just Christianity, being a path to God, and eternal life. I don’t think that you should be a certain religion based on your race, but I understand how throughout different cultures there is one primary religion in which people are more comfortable with having faith in. Nonetheless, it’s awesome to see this increase because it shows how religion is becoming an outlet for all people to come together, rather than something pushing them apart.
After doing the reading by Meredith McGuire, something that stuck out to me the most was the point mentioned in Chapter 2, “…the communal aspect of religion…What does our understanding of religion tell us about society itself?” (25). I have grown up my entire life in a church and in a Christian household. I have seen how belonging to a church ministry becomes know as your “church family”. Personally, I have belonged to about 3 different churches throughout my life, always looking for the one that matched my family and I the most. When my parents became evangelical Christians 2 years after I was born, we went to the church that a lot of my family members went to. Obviously, they encouraged us to attend that certain location with them so that we could all be together, and my parents who were new Christians, felt that if my family liked it there then we would too. After going there for about three years, we felt that there would be a church better for us. We enjoyed the people there however, the church was so large that there was no personal aspect to it at all. The only family or community we had there was by blood, not personal connections we had made. I was still so young that I didn’t completely comprehend why we made the decision to leave until I had gotten older, yet even at the age of 5, I knew that church was missing something for my family. We then went to another church for about 12 years, and felt that we had found our “home”. This church helped my family through struggles like one of my parents losing their job and we felt that we owed them to continue going there, even though there were clearly other issues going on within that church. It was extremely political and judgemental of people who were in sin, even if they were working on their relationship with God and knew the way to get over sin was to get closer to God. After seeing so much judgement we felt the need to leave and find a different community. We received much backlash and still don’t talk to many of the “friends” we had gotten at the church. Finally, when I was around 18 we went to a small church with about 100-200 people there, compared to the thousands of people who were at our previous two churches. Here we felt we had finally found our community. People who loved God and also doted love on those who were working on their sin. They always say “God is love” and that was what we were looking for all along, people who loved us for who we are and knew that we are all human and make mistakes yet, as God forgives they forgive too. And this is why I felt such a large connection to finding a community and family amongst your fellow church members, and strive to live by loving people everyday, because no one is perfect.