I very much enjoyed our class this week and the sociology conference that the class attended to on Wednesday was perhaps the highlight of my week. In the informational session I was able to learn about the many people in congregations that go outside their belief in God and stick up for those who have no voice. Protesting the Catholic Cathedral that was built instead of giving the money to charity, and providing soup to anyone on Skid Row are one some of the many acts that are done to better the name of the church. Interestingly enough when reading the quotes of the activists, they believe in doing good in God’s name and feel as though the churches and congregation they belong don’t do enough which is why they feel the responsibility to do more. I relate to this as I feel like my Catholic church does not emphasize how important it is to give back and pay it forward.
After visiting with my religious expert Pastor Don, it is evident that Redlands Christian Center believes in helping themselves before helping the community. They were very one minded on the path to salvation and he expressed several times that if not followed properly a person would not have eternal salvation. The beauty of this class is that as a student I am given the opportunity to see a wide breath of perspectives without asserting my bias on to their choices.
President Trump is hoping to appeal the Johnson Act which was passed in 1954 in order to stop churches and non-profit organizations from having the ability to favor a political candidate by supporting them with money or by campaigning. Many in favor of abolishing the amendment believe that the first amendments rights of nonprofits and churches are being taken away, while the opposing side believes that because these types of organizations do not pay taxes, they should not be able to use their tax exempt money to endorse political campaigns. Churches and non-profit members can individually advocate for a certain political campaign but cannot “claim to be speaking on behalf of their religious organization” (Blumberg). There is a divide in statistical evidence as to how far the amendment should be changed. According to the article “60 percent of Republicans believe churches should express their political views [but only] 38 percent of Republicans think churches should go as far as endorsing candidates” (Blumberg). If President Trump is successful in taking away the Johnson Act than many might feel forced to vote or support whichever candidate their congregation chooses. America was founded on the notion of separation between church and state, so by taking away this act where would the dividing lines stand?
This week the article “At ease with our own kind” written by Nelson held the argument that social status and religion are both subconsciously and unconsciously intertwined. Nelsons’ use of the word Habitus is the basis for this argument and he defines it as “is a mechanism, internalized within the individual and usually preconscious, which generates both patterns of action and patterns of likes and dislikes” (Nelson, 51). Within the Habitus are his three sub-arguments in which economic status and upbringing influence a religious person’s preference for aesthetic, linguistic and physical expression. In the creation and maintenance of a congregational visit decisions involving these aspects are all done. I find the subconscious preferences the most fascinating as they are the one’s people on the inside cannot realize they have but as outsiders analyzing certain types of religion can. In the sectarian congregation visit I heavily noticed the warmth that the church had for newcomer’s which was drastically different from the cold handshakes I received at the denominational visit. These are unconscious difference that the member’s have done most likely influenced by their notion of what it is to be a part of that church.
This week visiting the Redlands Christian Center I was really able to see the differences between a church with a lot of wealth and one with not as much. The sectarian congregation heavily brought to attention that the members should feel as though they need to donate at least ten percent of their income. The Redlands Adventist Church didn’t emphasize donations as much. Before this article I never realized how segregated some congregations are within race and socioeconomic background and how it can make going to a worship service so different.
Nike has recently published an add advertising their new athletic hijab to their clothing line. Considering all the hate both men and woman of the Islamic hate have been going through the timing of the hijab release has been both praised and condemned upon by the public. Many people of the public are very happy that Nike is becoming a more inclusive athletic line and are hoping that as an American country this shows to the Islamic community a more positive side than the discrimination going on as per the presidential election. However, there are also many that have the “Argument that the Pro Hijab is too late, too expensive, and not necessarily in demand by the Muslim athletic community shouldn’t be shrugged off” (Spector 2017). This article really got me thinking does Nike really have the best intention when making the athletic hijab’s, when they already are a company known for barely paying their factory workers enough to survive and employing child workers? Many companies to to be a more inclusive corporation but perhaps Nike could have partnered up with a smaller company that already makes athletic hijab rather than trying to take business away from them.
Samira Achbita sued her former employer G4S for firing her for refusing to take off her head scarf. In 2008 Asma Bougnaoui was fired for not removing her veil while working. These lawsuits were the reasoning behind the European court of Justice’s decision to give the work place the power to either allow or clothing articles representing religious or political views. This decision affects people by the thousand in Europe as 28 countries are obligated to the consequence of this ruling. The court believes their decision is fair as they claim it “does not constitute direct discrimination if applied universally” (Jamieson). The court is giving employers a huge amount of power over their employee’s. Employee’s should be able practice religions and endorse political views as they please, and not feel like a higher power such as a boss can tell them how to practice their faith. I am hoping that American’s view the decision made by the European Court’s a step backward in the hopes of becoming a forward thinking society. With the level of hate crimes and discrimination consistently reoccurring all over the U.S. It is scary to think about the power of those who are higher up have.
The question of which direction the religion of Americans is going is one that the class has been questioned with throughout the semester. So far in class we have studied what is it about religion that is so attractive, and from there what is it about certain types of denominations that brings people to wanting to be religious. Using trends like those in both McGuire’s book and Chaves we can predict from the past a possible future. The affects of modern religion are both good and bad. In a place like America the differences in race and ethnicity and the consequences of being a part of the minority group are being highlighted especially with the new presidency. Movements like those against American immigration, and black lives matter are issues that are being thought about and critiqued. In the film watched in class the church was a way to express the anger and feelings boiling inside those who were being directly influenced by racial profiling. The church of predominantly African American members had sermons on rising above and being good to other’s in need. The church gave its’ youth the opportunity to see the success of members with professions like lawyers and doctors that they other wise would not have met. What was powerful about watching this film is how the church reacted to the racism they experienced in their lives. Yes, they were very strongly against how they were being treated but they used that to fuel their passion to rising above.
President Trump was heavily criticized in his statement on the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Not once in his speech did he acknowledge the millions of Jews that lost their lives or the fact that anti-Semitic feelings are still present today. His speech many felt was inappropriate and missed the mark completely, however the white house refused to comment when asked why he left out central themes. According to the article “Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes and his campaign has been accused of employing anti-Semitic tropes.” (Gibson). On top of those accusations leaving out a core part of Holocaust Remembrance is only accentuating his anti-Semitic views indirectly.
In order to be successful in the congregation visits students had to go into the church service with an open mind. One of the main advantages of an open mind way of thinking is the ability to empathize with other religions and people. The contrast between the southern Baptist and the Catholic Mass could not have been more distinct, but learning about them both made me more understanding of their beliefs and traditions. We are also able to compare across the board why some congregations are successful and the different ways they each measure success.
I am happy that I was able to present to the class this week “Shared Parishes” the book written by Brett Hoover. The challenges the parishioners had to deal with from sharing a church facility or the integration of people from different backgrounds is something everyone in America has gone through. With the promise of the “American Dream” how can we blame others for wanting what is best for themselves but also for their family? With President Trump bringing up a great deal of hate in the country the fear that has been burden upon people is unimaginable. In my opinion and as seen through my case presentation the faster we adapt to change and are willing to be open minded to the ways of other cultural background the happier our country will be, and the more likely we will all grow as individuals.
Listening to the presentations I came upon one reoccurring theme; religion has such a positive influence on follower’s no matter what faith members practice. Perhaps my favorite presentation this week was the one done on the Paradigm churches. After the presentation was done I understood why they are so popular, the fact that there not a hierarchy, that they use all the senses to portray their message and how they focus in on smaller focus groups reminds of me so much of school at U of R. All of these elements make for the ideal learning environment. The genius behind this way of preaching is that by creating a place where people feel empowered and motivated to learn is the best way to get a message across.
President Trump has arisen numerous concerns among the people of America, especially those who are immigrants. Reading Brett Hoover’s book “Shared Parish: Latinos, Anglos and the Future of US Catholicism” really displayed how both the Immigrants coming to this country and the Euro American already present in the Catholic Church struggled to share a place of worship that was an important part of their spiritual and mental well being. Looking at the article “Catholic Bishops Challenge Donald Trump on Immigration” it is clear that the Catholic Church is taking a stand in order to help those that are being alienated by the Trump Administration. According to the article the Catholic Church agrees with Trump on Abortion, same sex marriage and some affordable care act policies. However, they are also in great defense of Hispanic members as “Latinos represent the future of the church: Sixty percent of Catholics in the United States younger than 18 are Latino, and 90 percent of them were born here”. I find it heart warming that the Catholic Church wants to help its Hispanic population, but on the other hand shouldn’t it be the Christian thing to do to help all those that are being discriminated upon like Muslims not just the Hispanic Catholics?
The last presentation on the book Passionate Journeys: Why Successful Women Joined a Cult has really made me reflect on how little freedom we have in our everyday lives. In the presentation it was discussed that these women felt a sense of liberation from the everyday social norms that were set on woman like being a good housewife, not experimenting sexually and up keeping the image of normality. What I found most interesting about the presentation is that many of these woman were successful and living what others perceived to be the “perfect” life. This got me thinking are we all under so many constraints and just given the illusion that we are free? After the presentation I am surprised so few people have joined cults like the one in the presentation. My perception of cults was so negative than the one depicted, but I really have an understanding why those women wanted their liberation. The cult granted the woman freedom to explore life without the fear of judgments even if it was outside of normality. On the flip side religion can also constrain the way of thinking of an individual as seen in the Born Again Film. In this example, the way of thinking was very black and white. Obeying the way of God was used as an excuse for their way of thinking giving them power to think anyone who contradicted the religion was wrong. My question to the class is does religion compromise our freedom or does it enable us to have more freedom?