Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Why Are So Many Americans Religious?

My earliest memories of school included learning about how the United States was founded. Different groups of people wanted to be able to worship how they pleased without the government getting into their business.

There was a lot of emphasis put on freedom of religion.

Nobody said to us "you should practice a religion" but it was implied. Why would thousands of people risk their lives and their futures for religion if religion wasn't worth it? I understand now that there were many other factors and freedom of religion wasn't in the original Constitution, but added later. Still, religion is embedded in our story.

What you don't hear about in school is how varied the beliefs of the founding fathers were. And fortunately, for all of us, they crafted the constitution in such a way that would keep any one of the religions of the time from being a part of the government.

It frustrates me to hear my own family members either say we are a "Christian Nation" or, even worse, actually wish we were a theocracy! My neighbor's car is covered with anti-religion bumper stickers including one I'd like to send to my relatives: If You Want a Country Rules By Religion Move To Iran!

Given that religious parents pass their religion down to their children, and we learn religion must be important because it was one of the reasons for founding this country, it makes sense that so many Americans are religious. As a co-worker pointed out to me Europe is mostly secular because they've gone through their enlightenment after almost 2000 years of rule by religion. And since many of the religious...um...kooks...left Europe and founded this country I understand why we are the way we are.

1 comment:

pursuitofmeaning said...

Just a few thoughts.

Yes there were a lot of Europeans who were persecuted for their faith that came here.

Just like in South Africa and other new territories the difficult circumstances that those people faced here, purified that faith like in a furnace.

Also the brand of religion that eventually formed here with a lot of influence from the slaves - was more real and supportive in difficult times. (Some might say more emotional)

Apart from the normal Christians this country unfortunately also gave birth to countless clowns and con-artists. The people (especially two or three generations or so ago) were very gullible and not very educated. Combine that with free speech that is protected by your constitution and you get that charlatans can take impressible minds that want to please God - for a ride.

The vast distances in this country has not allowed religion to be in the cauldron of big cities at all times. That has led to many false sects and cults spread (especially) along the countryside or rural areas. Once grown to some form of maturity - that false religion is then spread to other towns and you end up with something like a religious epidemic of falsehood.

I suggest you look at a few books - I am sure there will be many that describe with some accuracy what religion was like in those early days.