Religious Diversity in America

free essayThe USA is a very religious, remarkably tolerant, and religiously diverse country. According to a research conducted by Putnam and Campbell, around 83% of people in America identify themselves with a certain religious tradition, around 40% of the population attend churches once a week, and at least 59% pray once a week. Nearly all people of the country consider that saying “the grace” before every meal is a way of honoring God. Different religious groups can be identified in America, including Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Black Protestants, Jews, and Mormons.

Background of Religiosity in America

Back in 1950s, there was a higher level of religiosity in America than it is today. However, in 1960s, the country underwent a transformation that is commonly referred to as “shock”. The shock of 60s was a period when the sexual views changed and the devotion to religion begun to decline. At this period, religious diversity in the country became noticeable due to the new beliefs. The first distinct group appeared in 1960s after the shock with an intention to change the environmental around them. Therefore, they looked for places of worship where they could find moral certainty, and most of them eventually found themselves in evangelical churches and became conservative groups (Putnam & Campbell).

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In 1970s to 1990s, there was growth of evangelical Protestantism. This religious group was large and continued to grow while other associations existing at that time were becoming smaller. Other religions that were significant after the shock in the 60s were Mainline Protestants, Anglo-Catholics, Latino Catholics, Black protestants, and Jewish. Later, in 1990s, the number of Americans who claimed they do not belong to any religious affiliation noticeably increased. This group represented 17% of overall population of the USA (Putnam & Campbell). Today, most of the young people belong to the group of the “none” religion. It should be mentioned that people’s attitude towards diversity has a tendency to change. For instance, religion nowadays is frequently associated with politics. If a person follows the tradition of a given religion, such as Black Protestants, people may think of him or her as the one who supports Republican Party.

Religious Diversity

The majority of Americans associate themselves with Christianity and thus this religion is the most popular among those being practiced in the country. However, almost a quarter of Americans do not associate themselves with any religious group at all. It is important to note that 90% of all population in the USA are Christians, 53% are Protestants, while 38 % are Roman Catholics. Below is a discussion of some other famous religious groups identified in the country.

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Community Churches

These churches are multipurpose since they do not only advocate for Christianity activity but also non-denomination Christianity. Community churches are diverse and their doctrines differ from one church to another (Lecture Note). The peculiarity of the churches is that they are based in the buildings, which may also serve for other activities during the week. For example, some churches hold their masses in the classes, which are used by students during weekdays. Most of these churches locate in the rooms that accommodate portable staging or gymnasiums in colleges and high schools. They may adopt different doctrines of Lutheranism, Baptism, and Premillennialism. The community churches are mostly found in Ohio, Illinois, and Chicago. The most famous of them are International Council of Community Churches, St. Paul community church, and First Community Church.

Churches Of The Suffering And Mobility

There are some groups of people who share other beliefs, for instance those who believe in churches of the suffering. These people are motivated by the need of the churches of the poor for the poor. They seek to provide both material and spiritual support to its members. Most of the churchgoers are poor, new converts, and the addicts.

In addition, there also are the churches of mobility the members of which may even live kilometers away because they do not need to attend the church physically. These churches are most of the time rich and their attenders can watch pastors on television or live streaming at their homes (Lecture Note). They mostly preach the Gospel of prosperity since the pastors themselves are rich. One of the pastors of such churches is Joel Osteen who has become popular not only in America but also around the world.

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Mega-churches

There is another group of Americans that attend mega-churches or what they are referred to as mass churches. These churches were initially evangelical that have grown over the course of time. The churches are filled with at least 2,000 people every weekend. Four States that are leading in the number of mega-churches are Texas, Florida, California, and Georgia. There is an increase in the number of evangelical Christians moving towards mega-churches as their number grows as well. It should be mentioned that there are televangelism and international mega-churches (Lecture Note). Some of the most famous associations of this type in America include Lakewood Church in Houston, Willocreek Community Church in South Barrington, LifeChurch.TV in Edmond, and Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale.

Apart from the Christianity denominations (that are the majority) in the USA, there are some minority religious groups that exists in America and are discussed below.

Non-Christian faiths

The non-Christians in America include the Jewish people, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Unitarian Universalist. These groups are commonly found in North America. The Jews amount to 1.9%, Muslims – 0.9%, Hindus – 0.7%, and Buddhists 0.7% too. Being a minority, these religious practices are sometimes affected by the majority groups. Putnam and Campbell state that the minority groups are mostly under pressure and criticism from other groups, in such a way making it hard to practice their religious beliefs such as polygamy that is against the rules that popular groups adhere to.

Other Faiths

The “nones” is a shortened name used to refer to atheists or individuals who have no affiliation to any particular religion. The group has more male representatives than female. In America, the nones comprise 22.8%, atheists are 3.1%, and agnostic are 4.0%. However, geographical distribution of such people has not been associated with any particular demography or region. The group includes around 35-40% of the American youths. For many years, researchers considered that 7% of the population are not affiliated to any religious group. However, Putnam and Campbell claim that the number is now as 40%, which is an indication that there is a significant increase in the “nones”. The group has either increased as a result of ignorance or because of fear of strict and conservative laws in religion (Putnam & Campbell). This indicates as times goes by religion in American will continue being diverse.

How It Works

Basis of Attending Churches

Ii is important to note that most churches have a variety of people from different ethnic groups and races attending them. According to the statistics provided by Putnam and Campbell, those that attend homogenous congregation are as follows: 21% Catholics, 16% Evangelicals, 9% Mainline Protestants, 6% Mormons, and 4% Jews. Furthermore, Mainline Protestantism, Catholicism, and Evangelical Protestantism have certain geographical concentration area. For instance, Protestants are mainly concentrated in Florida, while Roman Catholics are located in Central California. These areas correspond to their ancestry patterns (Putnam & Campbell).

Religion bridging the divide

Despite the religious diversity mentioned above, the USA is a tolerant nation that bridges its religious divides. Most of the Americans (85%) embrace religion and believe that morality is a personal matter. The reason why the religious diversity is bridged is that most American families have relatives and friends who have different faith. For instance, Mainline Protestants and Jews have the most diverse friendly relations in American family network (Putnam & Campbell). Almost half of the families in the country have a family member married to a representative of another faith or religion. Putnam and Campbell call this “Aunt Susan effect,” which has led to an increase in the rates of religious intermarriages in such a way preventing the cases of prejudices towards other people’s religion. In addition, when it comes to choosing a good neighborhood, religious beliefs do not count as the evidence of good neighborhood (Putnam & Campbell). Instead, things like social groups, church networks, and interactions among people are the fundamental signs of pleasant surroundings.

Correlation Between Religion and Politics

There has been a shift in how people in America relate religion with politics. Recently, there was a distinctive line between politics and religion. However, today as Putnam and Campbell point out, the frequently with which a member of society visits church or how many times he or she pronouns “grace” says a lot about the political side or the party this person supports. For instance, highly religious persons like the African Americans tend to support Republican Party. However, due to the “Aunt Susan effect” and intermarriages, they have become connected to the Democratic Party as well. In such a way, religion has become a bridge of divide instead of diversity, as it may appear (Putnam & Campbell). These factors drove the authors of “American Grace” to write the book with the purpose to indicate how people in America come together despite their differences in faith, religion, or political preferences.

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Conclusion

American religion has undergone many transformations. Notably, the Nation is perceived as the most religious, diverse, and tolerant. In the late 1950s, the Nation was known to be very devoted to faith with more than 85% of its population following certain religious tradition. However, in the 60s, there was the so called “shock”, which was triggered by the need of sexual liberalism and moral diversions. Afterwards, different groups created their own paths with some remaining conservative and others choosing to support sexual liberalism. By 1970, there were more than 10 religious groups in the USA including the Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Black Protestants, Jews, and Mormons, just to mention a few. In 1990s and 2000s, there was an increase in the number of people that were not affiliated to any given religion. This particular group was called the “nones” which mostly comprised the young people.

In spite of the growing diversity, American society is quite tolerant to all its representatives. The reason for this is that several factors assist in eliminating the divide, and they include the “Aunt Susan effect”, numerous intermarriages, and the relations between religion and politics. Such approaches have helped to unite the diverse population of the USA regardless of the religious preferences, faith, and political views.

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