Essay On Religion And The American Mainstream Society

  • Category: Religion,
  • Words: 998 Pages: 4
  • Published: 01 April 2021
  • Copied: 197

For the past nineteen years of my life, I have attended your mass at Holy Name Catholic Church in Birmingham, Michigan every Sunday with my family. Thus, everything I know about religion I learned from you and my parents. This fall I decided to expand upon my religious knowledge and chose to take Inro to Religion in America at Indiana University to further my understanding of religious history. Before taking this course, I defined religion as an individual’s belief and opinions about God, the creation of man and the Universe, faith, and the supernatural. I strongly believed one’s religion could not be taken away from them as it is a part of who they are at their core. Along with religion, I also defined America and how religion relates to our country. The American government can not control one’s religious beliefs and individuals are free to believe in anything they choose. I described America as a country for the free, with freedom of speech being the First Amendment, individual freedom is extremely important in America and with that freedom of speech, freedom of religion would follow in importance. These concepts and definitions I created of the terms “religion” and “America” were based on the teachings I have learned from my family and most importantly, you. Therefore, I wanted to write to you as my view has changed after taking this religion course.

After completing this course, I feel my definitions of these two terms have been impacted and there were some flaws in my prior logic. As I previously explained, believing that someone’s religious beliefs were a part of their identity and they could not be taken away or changed, I now believe that to be untrue. Upon reading Confessions of an Ex-Mormon (Kirn, 2012) I learned our religious beliefs can develop and change as we grow and transform as individuals. Walter Kirn was very dedicated to the Mormon church in his youth and is grateful for everything the Latter Day Saints did for himself and his family, however, he no longer identifies as a Mormon. Although Kirn is disassociated from the Mormon church, he writes of his experience in an extremely positive light. I admire him for this as it is extremely common for individuals to have resentment and anger towards religions they are no longer a part of, but this is not the case with Kirn. This reading and the analysis of my classmates and I completed brought me to a realization. Growing up in your church I always believed Catholicism would forever be a part of my life no matter what happened. Now, I believe an individual’s religious identity can be altered as we grow and have new experiences. Although I still believe religion is based upon an individual’s beliefs and opinions of faith, the spiritual realms, the creation of man and the Universe, and God; I no longer believe an individual’s religion can not be taken away as every individual handles specific situations differently and is impacted by circumstances that may change their religious beliefs. 

At the beginning of this course, I also described that everyone has a right to express their religious beliefs no matter what anyone else thinks of their religion. Upon learning the history of religion in America throughout this course, I now know that statement has not always been true. A specific lecture about the Scopes Trial of 1925 is a primary example that religious freedom may be a concept in America, however, many rules and restrictions are surrounding this type of freedom. John Scopes was a high school teacher in Dayton, Tennessee who was arrested in 1925 for teaching about evolution (Week 8, Lecture 2). This trial took on a life of its own as it was the first nationwide live radio broadcast of a trial and press from around the United States traveled to Dayton, Tennessee. This trial is a primary example of religion and modernism at odds; a man was arrested due to his religious beliefs and the manner he applied said beliefs to his job. Although I learned about the Scopes Trial previously, looking into the trial from a religious perspective brought me to the realization that although American citizens may have religious freedom, it only applies to a certain extent and in specific scenarios. The Scopes Trial of 1925 is a major part of United States history as it highlights the realities of religious freedom in America.

As you know, growing up Catholic in a religious household impacts your beliefs on religious, social, and political issues. The most prominent one in my life that I am extremely passionate about is abortion. In my Intro to Religion in America class, this topic was briefly discussed, however, illustrates how religion and America interact and the significance of both regarding my previous definitions. The case of Roe v. Wade in 1973 is a primary example of the government controlling the freedom of humans in America (Week 11, Lecture 1). This Supreme Court case made abortion illegal in America, which contradicts my previous statement that the government can not control an individual’s rights. Life begins and ends with the beginning and stopping of the human heartbeat and since a fetus begins to have a heartbeat between 5.5 to 7.5 weeks of development, that is when the child begins its life. However, a woman in America can have an abortion anytime between the first 24 weeks of her pregnancy. Thus, this case created heavy controversy in America from a religious aspect as millions of people, specifically Catholics and Protestants during this time, viewed this as a way for the government to legalize the murder of one’s child. Roe v. Wade was galvanizing for the way it continues to consolidate political identities to this day. Therefore, this case is extremely significant to the religious history of America and the way this concept was a part of my course changed my view on religion in America as the government can control specific aspects of individuals’ beliefs regarding religion. 

As I am sure you can see, this course greatly impacted my definitions of “religion” and “America” along with how they interact with one another. Over the past nineteen years, I have learned a lot from you and your church about religion and the history of religion around the world. My Intro to Religion in America course furthered developed my knowledge of religious history, specifically in the United States, and thus impacted my views of religion and America as a whole.

 

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