Religion in the United States has traditionally played a significant role. At all times, America has been a virgin land for many religious beliefs, as well as enjoyed the effect of non-interference of the state in religious practice. The US has become a very comfortable haven for various foreign religious conglomerations. Religious people get satisfaction in life thanks to the social networks they build by attending worship services and other religious events. It is impossible to attribute gratification to factors such as individual prayer, the power of faith, or subjective feeling of love of God and His presence. Instead, the association of satisfaction comes with the number of close friends in a religious community.
From the first day of the existence of the American state, religion played a prominent role in its social and political life. Believers – both progressive and conservative – are influential stakeholders in almost all the major social movements in American history. However, in the last half-century, there is the process of the intertwining of religion and politics. It is the period of religious politicization. The topic of faith in the United States is and will be relevant because religious organizations significantly influence the involvement in social and community problems. Except that, religion has an impact on the political life of the country. In recent years, religion and public life in the United States have become much more partisan than they were in the first half of the twentieth century. The current situation harms the image of the state. The public and the country as a whole are at risk of losing a lot in the case of religion’s transformation into a tool of party manipulation.
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The Logic of Religious Politics and Political Religion
The ratio of faith with the political situation is one of the most pressing and controversial issues of political science. It encourages an active discussion in the media, but it still gains much less elaboration in religious studies and among political scientists. Political passions collide and divide people. The scope of the policy is the power of struggle, and, in the most diverse situations, it suffers the compatibility with the requirements of morality. State power is forcing people into submission and bases on violence. It has its judicial system, the army, the bureaucracy, and other powerful tools to impose the will and suppress rebellious resistance.
The common feature of politics and religion lies in the fact that both of them have the role of regulating the relationships between people, their unity, or separation. However, there are more significant and profound differences between them. The point of this comparison lies in the following issue: when the policy basis is violence, religion historically evaluates it in different ways. In medieval times, the national religion usually openly approved the use of violence against fellow Muslims or their political opponents (Putnam and Campbell 549). Currently, the vast majority of the national religions and representatives of world religions typically condemn violence in all its forms. Religion is extremely conservative and usually dramatically demonstrates the priority of heaven relating to the earth. Religious ministers gain jealous care of the authority of the Church and avoid involvement in risking its reputation for political actions.
The first inhabitants of the coasts of America came from England and formed the villages in Massachusetts. These English Puritans ran away from their homeland, where they suffered from the domination of the English Church. Therefore, North America became the cradle for the new religious beliefs of American citizens (Putnam and Campbell 519). The Puritans understood it as a sign of their charitable deeds, and those who did not share the suitable religious views had no place among the settlers. During the American Revolution, the preachers of virtually all denominations, except the Anglicans in the north of the country, supported the revolutionary ideas. The thoughts of the Puritans and Quakers to form the state based on biblical principles grounded the basis of the birth of the colonies in Massachusetts and New Jersey. From the establishment of the American government, the tendency of some religious preachers has an outcome in the political sphere. The religious factor played a significant role in the history of the Confederate slave states. The Confederate government actively used the support of Protestant denominations to give greater ideological and political cohesion to the South. In the second half of the twentieth century, the interests of American politicians and religious leaders frequently crossed during all sorts of election campaigns.
Identifying the role of missionary organizations in conducting American foreign policy at the turn of the twentieth century suggests that the strengthening of the missionary activity of American missionaries is not random. Americans are deeply religious, but their religion orients to the earth, and the ideal closely connects with the solution of social and political problems. Religion in America takes a significant place in life and politics because many of the ancestors of today’s Americans fled to the continent from religious persecution at home. They left their homes because the freedom of conscience was dearer to them than earthly goods. Moreover, this tradition is still alive. Practically all voters in the USA are believers. They want to see the White House policy connected with religion similar to them. Even in 1960, some Americans voted against presidential candidate John F. Kennedy because he was a Catholic and, as a president, would hold a course for religion (Putnam and Campbell 2). Kennedy directly denied these insinuations, solemnly swearing that he would be the American president, and his election to this post mostly contributed to the anti-Catholic sentiment in the United States declined. Since then, a rather unexpected shift has had short-term and long-term consequences. Today, Republicans have studiously appeased their pious voters without alienating voters in total, which is less like the mixing of religion and politics (Putnam 148). Because youth nowadays rejects organized religion, in the long term, this issue could undermine the historical role of religious beliefs in America.
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The echo of the general theme of American history finds its place in the emergence of religious law. The majority of the social movements both conservative as well as progressive raise important social topics. Today, it is the movement against abortion and for the traditions of family, and some decades ago, it was the abolition of slavery and the prohibition. However, the current unusually close relationship between organized religion and a particular political party leads to undesirable consequences for both sides. Every year, fewer and fewer Americans consider themselves secular Republicans or religious Democrats (Putnam 148). Such a close relationship with the current US policy of religion inevitably causes a sharp criticism of the liberal circles. The boundary between personal faith and its public expression is always vague. Therefore, the debate about the place on the border has a biased and bitter tone.
The Concept of Religious Politics Applied to Homosexual Relationship
Religious belief is the best indicator of civic responsibility. It is more accurate than the education, age, income, gender, or race. Moreover, the permanent members of synagogues and churches often feel happier and live longer. The Putnam study demonstrates that religion remains a fundamental and primary source of communication and altruism. Since the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century, maturing American youth en mass started to consider homosexuality as morally permissible. In the 1970s and 1980s, the history of the religion of the USA experienced the Evangelical boom (Putnam and Campbell 105). Therefore, it has become harder to move away from organized religion. If not for the influx of Hispanic immigrants, the Catholic Church in the United States would lose parishioners at the same rate as that for a long time weakening the main directions of Protestantism.
Sociological data show that long-term attitudes to moral issues can reliably predict involvement in religion. A liberal person refers to homosexuality as less likely than belongs to one religion or another. The current fact does not mean that younger generations of Americans have become atheists. Rather, they define themselves as believers, but not religious (Putnam and Campbell 646). Nevertheless, in their work American Grace, Campbell and Putnam constitute the most rapidly growing religious demographic.
The struggle for gay rights and a new understanding of homosexuality in the United States is ending. Conservatives lose in courtrooms and before the court of public opinion. The common belief stated that anti-gay marriage could be either of vile hypocrisy or for religious reasons. The law or social standards should determine neither one nor the other. Survey after survey shows that young people perceive homosexuality as a norm and gay marriage as a natural thing. Of course, some are in the opposition, but they are about the same as the advocates of segregation in the late 1960s (Putnam and Campbell 606). Since the 90s, more people agree with the statement that sexual orientation is genetically incorporated, and the more the individual share this theory, the more tolerant it refers to members of sexual minorities (Putnam and Campbell 384). In the United States, the social movement directed to seek legal protection of gay marriage began in the early 1970s (Putnam and Campbell 618).
Putnam and Campbell wisely point out that gay activists started activity to the forefront of American political life when the young Americans moved from organized religion (Putnam and Campbell 404). According to the authors, when Christian churches want to keep the connection with the younger generation, they will have to make their teaching on issues related to sexuality more liberal (Putnam and Campbell 404). The current deduction may seem suitable from first sight, but the further development of history denies it. Liberal relation to some sexual relationships and gay marriage in the circles of particular representatives of the Protestant churches could not prevent them from losing followers.
The denial of sexual energy and individualism has played an inspirational role for the members of the traditional Christian faith. It meant that refusing sexual autonomy and sensual pagan culture was the basis of Christian culture, not only rejecting but also redirecting the erotic instincts. The fact that the rapid return of the West to the pagan tendencies of sensuality and sexual liberation seemed a clear sign of Christianity sunset. Christianity refers to homosexuality not implicitly negative, as many are accustomed to thinking. In contrast to the Old Testament, the early Christian texts do not mention same-sex love. The success of the supporters of gay marriage referenced the fact that they were able to prove to society that their views correspond to the period in America after the 1960s’ notions of marriage and family (Putnam and Campbell 151). Now, the Western Christian task is not to lose Christianity entirely. The vast majority of faith is set in the form in which they have chosen on their own. The issue applies to both fans of the traditional religions, as well as to the members of the hard-to-determination of communities, and to individuals who do not belong to any group. Religious beliefs and politics have enough common features, and ignoring the religious characteristics of broad groups of the population is unacceptable, in implementing certain political decisions.
The impact of religious beliefs on the life of the USA is perhaps the intangible aspect of their culture, which causes the accusation of atheism. Although it is not so, religion in America has reached the limit. The US residents have attended church permanently, and American politicians often quote Scripture speaks of God, in contrast to Europe. In this country, religion is at the center of life for many of its citizens, both in a cultural and religious sense. Respect for society acquired a religious practice, and this applies even to those leaders, of which only a few will say that they believe in privacy. The religious factor in the United States closely intertwines with the ethnic points of view. When the controversial role of religion in politics today reaches, as is currently the case, permanent intensity, the press has a valuable voice. They call to remember that the Christian faith has always played a crucial role in American history: in God we trust. Freedom of religion, which elevates the majority of Americans, has made possible the prosperity of faith in many forms and it is a profound impact on the formation of the American character. Indeed, all the momentous changes in the country took place under the auspices of religion. It comes from the formation of the colonies of the Puritans before the revolution, and the liberation of the slaves to fight for civil rights under the guidance of the priest Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday became a national holiday. In the last few years, in the United States, religion works for policy overt, which, perhaps, is unprecedented in the history of this country. Not all this could attach much importance, if not fundamentalists supported by the current administration. In general, the permanent political situation in the US is difficult to understand without taking into account the factor of religion.