This display shows how religion has influenced American culture from the beginning. It is the backbone and foundation to how this country was founded and to how it still runs. Religion has been around for thousands and thousands of years and is spreading throughout the world. Specifically, the United States is known to be a place where freedom of religion exists, and multiple religions are expressed because of that value. In this display, I am going to talk about how religion plays an integral part in this country and how our culture is shaped around religious beliefs, specifically Christianity.
Throughout history you will find quotes and statistical data regarding the influence of religion. On Gapmider.com it shows that from 1917 to 2015 the American population has grown from 104M to 322M people. As you look at the population numbers you find that Christianity is one of the top religions in America. In fact, when people first came to America from Europe almost all of the founders were from a Christian background. In a map I discovered it shows the geographic correlation to all religions and where they are located around the world. If you look at Europe and America, Christianity is highlighted in all blue. While America is known as the “melting pot”, I would say that the map primarily represents those that identify themselves as Christian. Many of the people who initially came to this country held Christian beliefs. Religion was/is very important to this country, whether people actively practice it or not.
If you look back in time and to present-day, religion is seen everywhere (our Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem, different nationally known songs, quotes on books, shirts, social media and even on our currency and governmental buildings). One example of how religion has the greatest influence on our culture is when disasters strike our country (or even others). People look to something/someone for comfort and guidance. During the 9/11 disaster, churches grew to a number that has never happened before. Maxwell-Coghlan was quoted in an article as saying “September 11 brought us great anguish and pain, but it also brought us together in shared identity and common purpose” (Barna 9/11). In another article it was stated the “40% of all churches in Manhattan started after the year 2000… A great many people returned to the churches and faiths of their past to seek comfort and spiritual perspective in the wake of the terror attacks” (Internet Monk). We also celebrate religious events throughout the year in America: Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, etc.
One thing to note about America, is that we can practice whatever religion we want, or we do not have to practice anything at all. In 1974 Richard Nixon stated in a speech. “recognize the right of people in the world to be different from what we are. Even some may have different religions. Even some, we must accept, may not have a religious belief, as we understand a religious belief, to believe” (God In America Article).
As you reflect on past history, all but one president identified themselves with a specific religion (a majority categorized themselves as Christian). The first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise…”. In a book about Woodrow Wilson- our 28th President, it references a letter written to Nancy Toy. An excerpt of his letter says, “My life would not be worth living if it were not for the driving power of religion, for faith, pure and simple… never for a moment have I had one doubt about my religious beliefs…” (Cooper 279).
While there is/needs to be the separation of church and state, Christianity has had a huge impact in America. In an article called the Impact of Christianity by Faith Facts, great points are made about how America’s influence is based on the teachings of Christianity. A few quotes/example from this article are listed below and are related to government:
- America’s foundational idea of The Rule of Law rather than the authority of man traces back to the Old Testament, beginning with the Ten Commandments.
- The idea that all men are created equal as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is a biblical doctrine.
- The notion of the sovereign authority of God (as mentioned in the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, all 50 state constitutions, our currency, etc.)–rather than the sovereignty of the state–is certainly biblical.
- The existence of moral absolutes (a biblical concept) is an important idea in our Declaration of Independence–specifically, self-evident truths and unalienable rights from the Creator.
- Many other aspects of our laws come directly from the Bible–for example the judicial, legislative and executive branches trace to Isaiah 33:22. Fair trials with witnesses have numerous Old and New Testament support.
- Regarding civil liberty, founding father John Adams (and others) emphasized 2 Corinthians 3:17 as the basis for American civil liberty. The slogan on the Liberty Bell is “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof” is from Leviticus 15:10. Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Jesus himself was the greatest civil libertarian of all time.
In closing, I think one of the greatest strengths of the United States was its desire to provide a place of freedom of dictatorship, of excessive governmental influence and of religious persecution. The fact that you can practice any religion, or no religion without persecution correlates with the Bible’s teaching that God allows a free will and ability for everyone to choose Christ as their Savior. This teaching allows people to stay within the Christian faith, or make the decision to believe differently. It is interesting to note that there is a growing influence of people coming from other countries around the world to do Christian ministry. This may have to do with the growing number of immigrants that have come to America and their desire to influence their belief system.
Co., USA Flag. “The Pledge of Allegiance.” Pinterest. Flag Co., 21 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
Gapminder Tools. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
Social Media- (Secondary)
“American Views on Terrorism: 15 Years After 9/11.” Barna Group. N.p., 9 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 May 2017.
Baltzell, George W. “Constitution of the United States – We the People.” Constitution for the United States – We the People. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2017.
Cooper, John Milton. Woodrow Wilson: A bibliography. New York: Vintage , 2011. Print.
Social Media- (Primary)
“God In America.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, 11 Oct. 2010. Web. 10 May 2017.
Meek, Charles S. “Faith Facts.” The Impact of Christianity – Faith Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2017.
Mike, Chaplain. “Home.” Internetmonkcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Religious affiliations of Presidents of the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 07 May 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
“World Religion Database.” AfricaMap. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2017.
|, Sandy Hingston. “12 Things You Might Not Know About the Constitutional Convention.” Philadelphia Magazine. N.p., 25 May 2016. Web. 10 May 2017.