How Religion Shapes Society Thesis

Pages: 8 (2067 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

¶ … Religion Shaped American…

How Religion Shapes Society

"How Religion Shaped American Society"

"How Religion Shaped American Society"

Ignorance of Other Religions before WWII

American society prior to WWII would seem to have been relatively insular when it came to faith. When WWII brought the plight of the Jews and even the Catholics, also targeted by Hitler to the forefront of the minds of the world religion became an issue of greater diversity than it ever had been before. The various Christian denominations that were present in the early colonies, mostly protestant in nature or faiths that had been adopted since then were the mainstay and most people were ignorant of other religions until WWII when diversity of religion was expanded and secularism came again into conflict with faith.

Robert Wuthnow claimed that "religious populism" came to the fore only after World War II, largely as a result of the expanding role of mass media in American culture and their ability to present an array of alternative religious ideas to the public. Wade Clark Roof and William McKinney also focused on the post-World War II period in their claims about the increasing privatization of religion and hence the stronger presence of popular religion. (Lippy, 1994, p. 12)Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
for only $8.97.

Thesis on How Religion Shapes Society Assignment

Though there had been some diversity of religion in the U.S. up to this point it was limited to mostly Christian ancestry coming from the Protestant core as well as the mass of Catholic immigrants during the industrial era and lastly a spattering of minority faiths such as Judaism. Yet, like race in the cities religion was often separatist in nature, with those believers farthest from the protestant core living mostly separate existences in insular communities and speaking of faith only among their own. Some examples would be Eastern European Jews and Chinese Buddhists or even Taoists that came as laborers in the late industrial era. (Lippy, 1994, p. 13)

Impact on U.S. Society

This had not been the first time that secularism was questioned by increased knowledge, as many people had converted to pious Christian faiths or even created their own factions of Christian faith as a result of the turn of the century bid toward secularism in society brought on by the industrial revolution. In short the whole history of American society, with regard to faith is one of a cyclical nature, where secularism challenges the faithful and then the faithful respond with what would seem a fervor of conservatism. Some even say that it is this very history, marked by a fervor of conservatism and piety that has shaped American society. Whether the challenge to religion was from awareness of diversity or if it was from overzealous secularists America seems to always return to its Protestant roots.


Theology and religious populism was born of freedom of speech and assembly (Werhan, 2004, p. 9) as the ideas associated with conscript theology, where the interpreter is a predetermined and high ranking member of the faith and all other interpretations are heretical, were rejected heartily by Americans as they remade their faiths and practices. (Lippy, 1994, p. 15) Theology could therefore, as dictate by the Martin Luther's declarations at the rise of the 16th century schism, be determined by the individual and did not have to be dictate by a single wise old theologian. America, after WWII embraced this ideal with vigor, as popular media dominated the religious ideologies and built an almost radical revival of interpretation by literally thousands of mostly amateur theologians, many of whom were broadcast on the radio. (Lippy, 1994, p. 166)


The rise of political atheism largely began as a current of the cold war, as communism brought to America a sense of fear associated with a rejection of religion. Communism was largely dubbed as evil due to the fact that it espouses that religion is an unnecessary aspect of civil society in almost the same thread as it rejects capitalism and individualism. All of these issues made communism a perceived threat to American culture, which became hunted in much the same way as heresy had in the past. Though the separation of church and state were seen as nominally good the reality is that most Americans viewed a completely secular society as a dangerous premise. (Lippy, 1994, p. 195) Secularism in politics was seen as acceptable only to a point as the individual might be expected to refrain from overt attempts to witness to his or her constituency from his own interpretation of faith he was still very much expected to have a faith and a Christian faith at that. (Domke & Coe, 2007, p. 53)

Impact on Judaism on Christianity

The reassertion of knowledge of Judaism as was seen with the close of WWII and the revelation experienced by the holocaust also changed American society and theology, as many newer denominational faiths incorporated at least some ideologies associated with the theory of Judaic faith. Previously Judaism became a more populous expression of American society when millions of Eastern European Jews came to the U.S., from varied traditions, yet the holocaust brought these individuals and those who would come later as direct refugees from Europe to the forefront of American Christian thought. (Lippy, 1994, p. 53) Jews were oft seen by faith as not-yet-converted Christians and there was a huge upsurge of theological interest in the Old Testament, where previously many newer faith bases looked almost solely on the New Testament and particularly the gospels to feed ideology and practice. (Lippy, 1994, p. 100) Few sought to "convert" Jews into the Christian faiths as the period also brought about a reasonable level of ecumenicism or an allowance of reasonable diversity among the faiths, a trend that certainly extends to today. (Harries, 2003, p. 181)

Politics and Religion as Co-equals

For many the idea that politics and religion were co-equal was foundational to the idea of America, as allowance of freedom of speech and worship were entrenched in the political ideologies of the nation from its very core. (Domke & Coe, 2007, p. 53) The allowance for freedom of religion, and the core of diverse Christianity are written in to the constitution and supported by tradition and ceremony, all of which are fundamentally Christian in nature.

All Men Created Equal

The constitution was filled with ideology that has been supported and oft repeated to develop the American ideal of faith.

The "fathers" in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address are those who articulated the sacred American credo: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." In a speech in 1857, Lincoln explained to his audience that although they were not blood relations of the "fathers" who wrote the Declaration of Independence, they are nevertheless connected to them by the "moral sentiment" which binds all Americans and freedom-loving people. (McDermott, 1993, p. 22)

The bondage of the language of the constitution incites the American people to allow diversity but only within the strict reality of belief, one must believe in something and it should probably be some form of Christianity to truly be American.

Religious Nation under All

The constitution therefore allows that to be truly American and to be a truly American society it must adhere to a certain set of principles, which ensures that to some degree the nation will remain a Nation under All filled with Christian religious identity, though as I have said before religious tolerance and diversity are expanding rapidly in the U.S. today, as again mass media supports awareness.

Statistics about Religion

The religious constitution of the U.S. currently is expressed in this graph based on an ABC News/Beliefnet Poll:

In this grouping "other Christians" refers to faiths such as Later Day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah Witness. One can still see from the graph that the constitution of the U.S. is clearly still very Protestant and that other faiths still have a very minimal representation even in the modern world.

List of Various Religions

Faiths represented in the U.S. include various Protestant faiths, which include any mainstream Christian faith that is not Catholic (Baptist, Protestant, Evangelical, Calvary, Methodist ect…) the Catholic Faith, Other Christian faiths such as those mentioned above and minimally Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Bahai and Christian Science though this is not an exhaustive list.

When did U.S. Religiosity Begin?

US Religiosity really began after WWII when threats to faith began to become idealized and mass media became influential in society and radio, television, movies and now the internet began to allow for the spread of ideas and the support of diversity and individual interpretation. There is of course also a great deal of evidence that there were previous periods of religious fervor, such as when the industrial revolution began to dominate the culture and individuals seemed lost in a whirl wind of painful and often debasing productivity. (Lippy, 1994, p. 112)

Founding Fathers

The founding fathers of America clearly intended for religion, and mainly the Christian religion to continue to dominate the culture as a "moral… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

Two Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?
1.  Buy full paper (8 pages)Download Microsoft Word File

Download the perfectly formatted MS Word file!

- or -

2.  Write a NEW paper for me!✍🏻

We'll follow your exact instructions!
Chat with the writer 24/7.

Religion and Politics Religion Today the Average Thesis

Religion as a Positive Force in Eurasia Essay

Religion in Indonesia Islam Essay

Religion Is a Multifaceted Social and Psychological Thesis

How Did Chinese Religion and Culture Influence the Religious History of Korea and Japan? Essay

View 200+ other related papers  >>

How to Cite "How Religion Shapes Society" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

How Religion Shapes Society.  (2009, June 10).  Retrieved October 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"How Religion Shapes Society."  10 June 2009.  Web.  28 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"How Religion Shapes Society."  June 10, 2009.  Accessed October 28, 2020.