How Religion Has Affected the United States
Religion has always played a vital role in the people’s lives from the minutes they were born till their death. It is human faith concerning the divinity of God or gods. Religion can be defined as any system of beliefs that rests explicitly on faith. Religion is considered to be a fundamental belief and practice set generally agreed upon and by a group of people. Howerever, it is not just a mere acceptance of the certain belief sets; it is the way of our life. These beliefs are related to the nature, cause and purpose of the universe as well as include ritual and devotional observances. They usually contain a moral code which influences the conduct of human affairs. Religion is one of the first things cultivated by our species to survive and better understand the world. Every person feels that sense of awe about the world he/she lives in. Religious beliefs indicate the idea that people are just a small part of something much greater than they are. Knowing this people conceive of what is divine and mundane, so that they become disciplined for the betterment and improvement of themselves.
The meaning of the word religion is different for different people. In spite of the fact that many types of religion exist, all of them have one thing in common. They provide people with a sense of inspiration and awe that allows us to live according to the prescribed principle. It would be very difficult for people to live without religion. A lot of time, money and contemplation have been spent on religion. No doubt, every religion has some positive features which may be derived by its followers. Each religion teaches almost the same basic principles and values and is perfect in its own way. People do a variety of things for the sake of religion. The awe sense that religion calls “forth in people” transforms their daily lives into something fabulous. It helps them to avoid the feeling of the despair. Also it causes the realization that there is more to people’s life than what they can perceive with their five senses. People find that religion inspires them to achieve what they want and rise above the limitations. Religion remains the ethical and moral code by which they live their lives. However, there are such people who follow no religious creed. But, they follow some set of codes or organized philosophies which help them solve problems.
There exist a lot of religions which are practiced in the United States, but the major ones consist of Christians (73–76%) (Kosmin & Keysar), Jews, Atheists, Buddhists and Muslims. However, nearly all religions in the world have adherents in the United States of America. These religious institutions are usually powerful and influential in the political and social life. The situation of the recent years which was caused by some US trends and the emergence of new terrorist threats made people put a greater focus on religion (Sloan 2). The USA is considered to be the most religious country among the developed countries. The US nation maintains a tolerance level for different religions. It was discovered that above one-third of US marriages is between people who belong to the same religion, and nearly one-third of Americans switches religious traditions. When a person becomes acquainted with people of different religions, he/she becomes warmer and more tolerant toward them, even if the stranger’s religious beliefs were irrespected previously (Campbell & Putnam).
Various religions have spanned the multicultural heritage of the US immigrants. It has caused the fact that the US has become the most religiously diverse country around the globe (Eck 432). It has been found out that religion plays an important role in the life of American people. The majority of Americans claim that they are heavily influenced by religion (“Among Wealthy Nations”) as it teaches them moral values. Due to the fact that the religion establishment by the government is restricted (according to the first amendments of the US constitution), the country provides freedom for all rituals and practices. It makes America proud of the value of human rights, freedom and democracy.
American people control the country’s fate and elect the government that supports the interests of the religious individuals and care about the people’s needs. The US is often treated the birthplace of the variety of the world’s religious organizations, including the Moonies, Hare Krishna, Scientology, the Rajneeshies and Transcendental Meditation. It is evident that these cults seek to attract and involve new members which means donating a large salary percentage to the cult. Some cults have the outlook which is based on the fundamentalist point of view, while others are based on the oriental philosophies or religions. Many American citizens find cults to be dangerous and explain it by the indulgence of the brainwashing techniques. The places of religious meetings and churches represent a multitude of faiths and can be easily found in every city and town.
During the recent years, Americans have experienced the advent of mega-churches which generally offer a pulsating and computerized package of service which looks like an entertainment with a variety of attractions. The high tide of the US cultural religiosity may be visible “at the close of a multi-tradition holiday season” (“Religious Influence on American Society”). Some Americans report that religion is not more than the way of life that has been handed down to them by their ancestors. It is followed only because their grandparents and parents followed it. It is treated as a custom and tradition or as something that ties them to their family heritage. In addition, a lot of Americans would suggest that the modern way and standard of living is largely the result of religion. It is widely believed that in order to reach the development level that we have, it has become necessary for people to cooperate. The only problem is that the nature of the most people is selfish and their ability to get along and work together is mostly the result of the religious teachings. Without religion people would never have been able to develop, cooperate and coexist in the modern world. People also believe that religion affects their family life as marriage is a religious convention. While it is possible for couples to pair bond for life without religion, the evidence suggests that this is unlikely in the most cases. The idea of a couple to stay together for the whole life is considered to be largely the religion result. Religion gives people the basis for a mutual understanding of each other. It leaves people in harmony with themselves, others and the society in which they live. Their lives become much better off with some type of religion than without it.
Americans agree that firm and sound teachings of any religion are able to be an effective factor in scientific progress. It is caused by the fact that the foundation has been based on the solid freedom of choice and on the fact that everybody is accountable for his own deeds. One of the positive religious influences on society is that it strongly opposes any discrimination based on race, color or class. All humans are God’s creatures and the God’s love to them is equal. This fact eliminates a lot of conflicts which may arise in the multicultural society of the US. The religion provides a framework to pass happy and decent life in the light of universal guidelines and principles.
Thus, every person has some beliefs and follows them. Religion is a very significant part of people’s lives. It is considered to be a great power which gives people the assurance of staying alive after death and explains us why things happen. One of the aspects of religion is its influence on the daily life of people as well as the idea of the pure living. Almost all religions teach the same idea in some form or other. The freedom to worship and believe is one of the freedom beacons which has long been admired in the US. American citizens believe that religion is able to answer today’s problems. It has been revealed that religion can have a vital influence on the life of people. In most cases, people with religious beliefs have much better control over their lives and are more contended in their lives if compared to their counterparts. Religion has proven to protect people from daily life disappointments and the shocks. People with strong religious beliefs also face a lesser risk of suffering from any psychological harm than their counterparts. They are usually happier and boast substantial psychological benefits in their lives. They have a purpose sense and are positively affected. In many cases religion acts as a light which guides people through the tunnels of life and brings them to light at the other end reflecting the meaning of life and what people want out of life.
Both Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam focus on the moral values which enable the balance in life and help to follow the righteousness path. “Every religion teaches its followers to choose good over evil, right over wrong, truth over lies, and live in harmony and peace in the world.” Americans claim that religion has a huge impact on their daily life even more than they realize. American society has been built on religion so even if there are people who do not have a belief in the fact that most of the way the society works is mostly based on religious teachings.
As the result, almost every aspect of our daily life is influenced by religion. Probably the greatest influence that religion has on people’s everyday life is that the social customs and the laws that exist in modern society are almost all based on religious teachings. Since these laws rule the daily behavior of people, they are being influenced by religion in almost every aspect of life. Hence, “religion serves as a bulwark against undesirable reactions of despair and hopelessness, provides power for facing adversities as well as a sanction for the principles of morality like justice, honesty, righteousness”, virtuousness, brotherhood, equality, sacrifice, tolerance and help other kindred virtues. Throughout our world history, public life and religion have invariably showed mutual dependency. In the modern heterogeneous civilization, especially in the melting pot of the US, ethno-social diversity and religious homogeneity have proven to be incompatible. Thus, religion is of vital importance for a society because of many reasons. Depending on the governmental style and culture, it can range from a simple influence to a complete control over society.