America’s religions match the racial and behavioral diversity of the people who live therein. The land’s variety is primarily driven by the immigrants who vacated from different parts of the world, such as Central America and South Asia. However, there has been a perceived ebb and flow motion regarding traditional main-line religions such as Catholicism and newer sects. In truth, the latter has managed to secure a more extensive crowd due to their ability to adapt to their follower’s needs. American pastors are solely responsible for their church’s success. Due to the country’s free religious market, they have contributed to the rise of new sects in America with more followers than traditional religions.
America’s Religious Composition
In contrast to Europe, religious populism and participation in America were more substantial in the 19th century. The religious market in the United States operates under lax rules that defy religious monopolism, thus favoring new upstarts (Finke and Stark 3). Deregulating religion provides its clergy with freedoms that produce innovations in music, religious education, and communication methods. Indeed, these innovations were more appealing to Americans than traditional catholic practices that were perceived to be restrictive. The Catholic Church, in this respect, was the biggest loser since it failed to adapt to a new market. Moreover, the practices proved restrictive for the free market America represented. Indeed, immigrants dominated the market, and the accommodation offered by sects aptly fulfilled their desires to change their lives in opposition to miserable Christian doctrine.
The Real Winners and Losers
Furthermore, Presbyterians and Congregationalists tried to form religious cartels in 1801 to establish a strong base with their followers by divvying up the region on a north-south basis. These popular denominations restricted the time other denominations could use public address domains such as schools and government public buildings. However, both religions destabilized popularity and compromised each other’s hold in their respective field. The organizational problems of Episcopalians and Presbyterians dwindled their large regional following after the American Revolution (Finke and Stark 75). The denominations they sought to keep out, such as Methodists and Baptists, eventually triumphed over them. These newer groups had a more extensive base because they crucially made it easy for gifted clergy members to join the church. The religious leader supported the local citizenry, and if a position was lacking, he was encouraged to start a new religion, creating free-market competition (Finke and Stark 82). Local support and accommodative rules ensured the participation of local communities in church activities.
Impact on American Religious Traditions
In addition, the book defines how educated clergy impacts American traditions in contrast to those with a religious calling. Educated clergy tended to invite secularism in the church despite lacking a difference in messaging or the use of complex language to express the religion’s sentiments. Baptist and Methodist preachers integrated stories and metaphors into their loud and animated sermons, which surprisingly impacted their congregation. Baptist and Methodist preachers traveled and repeated their addresses multiple times, forcing them to be comfortable with the material (Finke and Stark 86). The preachers were relatable and part of the congregation, making their message more effective. These advantages enabled them to cinch a more significant following and establish their denominations in the country. The current religious market in America follows these practices of appealing to the congregation through colorful and emphatic language.
Video Lecture Summary
Similar revolutions in societal thinking since the 1960s have defined how people participate in and perceive religion. Catholicism is a staple of America’s religious history; however, Martin Luther, a German monk, aided in reforming the system and giving rise to Protestantism (Untung 4). He opposed indoctrinated religion and instead taught that followers can establish a relationship with God through personal faith. This aspect is particularly relevant because immigrants from Central America and South Asia carry their religion when they immigrate to the United States (Williams 29). These sects have a bottom-up model that encourages the participation of people at the grassroots level, like adopting non-denominational pastors from the local community. In contrast, Catholicism operates on a top-down model where the readings worldwide are similar and take their lead from the Vatican. The operating method is inflexible and has encouraged religious populism in the United States. Princess Diana’s funeral mainly reflects the change from top-down to bottom-up religion. Attendants outside the cathedral clapped and were more vocal in offering guidance to people inside on how to react to the funeral. The 1965 immigration bill signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson molded immigration policy, and his work in the decade defined the civil rights movement and progress. His policies caused a decided political shift between Democrats and Republicans and affected people’s religious practices. Essentially, the diversity birthed by President Johnson’s tenure saw the solidification of sects and the growth of religious diversity, which forms America’s religious diversity.
In conclusion, American immigrants define the scope of religion in their new land. Whereas Catholicism had a strong base in the early 19th century, the emergence of Methodist and Baptist churches offered intense competition. These churches could operate from anywhere and, advantageously, used a ‘called’ community member to lead. The use of vernacular language and stories to emphasize their message has garnered sect religions a large following and still considerably impacted America’s religious landscape. Religious freedom allows people to escape from the indoctrination of traditional faiths and offers followers an opportunity to have a personal relationship with their deity.
Finke, Roger, and Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy. Rutgers University Press, 2011.
Untung, Syamsul Hadi. “Martin Luther and The Concept of The Reformation of a True Church.” Journal of Religious Comparative Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1–15. Web.
Williams, Rhys H. “The Current Landscape of American Religion: Diversity, Individuation, and the Implications for an Aging Population.” New Dimensions in Spirituality, Religion, and Aging, 2018, pp. 27–44.