The impact of Religion on U.S. Politics and Society. A society permeated by a religious ethic of all influences. Introduction Omnipresence of Religion in U.S. Entertainment Industry (Hollywood & Broadway) using biblical stories
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The impact of Religion on U.S. Politics and Society A society permeated by a religiousethic of all influences
IntroductionOmnipresence of Religion in U.S. • Entertainment Industry (Hollywood & Broadway) usingbiblical stories (e.g. 10 Commandments, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mel Gibson’sThe Passion of Christ seeTrailer) • Religion present in daily life (e.g. national prayerday, Thanksgiving, references to God on money, etc.) • US the onlyhighlydeveloped country wherereligious practices are sowidespread (e.g. Places of Worshipreach 300,000 , playrole of social congregation)
I. Separation of Church and State: A secular State II. Religion as a unifying factor in the U.S III. Religion and Social causes IV. Religious Plurality
I. Separation of church and state • a secular state, a civil religion • “In God We Trust” • Civil Values • Bill of Rights: Freedom of religion “The fact that we have freedom of religion does not mean we need to try to have freedom from religion." The Culture of Disbelief, Stephen Carter, 1994 Video: Obama swearing on Lincoln’s bible for inauguration in 2008 “I solemnly swear…so help me God.”
Principle of completeseparation of church and state originated in Virginia, 1786, written by Thomas Jefferson: “Almighty God hath created the mind free,” the act provided that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”
Preamble to the Declaration of Independence “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of nature and of Nature’s God entitle them a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Jefferson was a child of the Enlightenment, and his own religious views as an adult, which he tended to keep to himself, never conformed neatly with those of any denomination. But on grounds of principle he was welcoming of religious pluralism: The way to truth, he believed, was to let all beliefs contend--freely, and out in the open. The practical side of Jefferson also acknowledged that, because religion is in fact a social force, it must be socially accommodated. Whatever the pillars of his thinking, Jefferson, a member in good standing of what today would be called the "cultural elite," held religion to be at once salubrious and relevant. Source: Religion and the Cultural Eliteby Cullen Murphy, 1994
Bill of Rights (1st 10 amendments to the Constitution, guaranteeingindividualfreedoms) • 1st Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Supreme Court Rulings re Prayer in Schools Landmark Decision: Engel vs. Vitale 1962 "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.“ Court ruled that government-written prayers were not to be recited in public schools and were an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. Subsequent Cases: Wallace vs. Jaffree(1985), Supreme Court ruled Alabama's law permitting one minute for prayer or meditation was unconstitutional. Lee vs. Weisman (1992), the court prohibited clergy-led prayer at middle school graduation ceremonies. Santa Fe ISD vs. Doe (2000), in which the Court extended the ban to school-organized student-led prayer at high school football games.
A. Religion in Education Whatroledoes the Christian religion play in the American educational system? A. spiritualism not theology B. Evolution vs. Creationism C. The Scopes Trial
Daily Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag in public schoolssince1893
TeachingCreationism in Schools Modern Version: Intelligent Design vs. Evolution
Scope’sMonkey Trial • The jury sided with the law. Clearly, Scopes was in violation of Tennessee statute by teaching that humans descended from monkeys. He was fined $100 and released. But the battle that played out before the nation proved a victory for supporters of evolutionary theory. A later court dismissed the fine imposed on Scopes, though in the short term, the antievolution law was upheld. • Video: Scopes Monkey Trial (0’41-14’)
B. Religion and the Government • Prohibition (18th amendment) • The Hays Code: public decency • Religious influence on Politics
1. Prohibition 1920-1933 • Strong moral/religious undertone to teetotalers/prohibition movement • Alcohol targeted as cause of social woes • Origins of movement in Puritan values: moral codes of decency and modesty Video: PBS Prohibition (0’ – 4’50)
2. The Hays code: Public Decencyand the Puritan moral ethic • The Motion Picture Production Code • moral censorship guidelines that governed the production of most U.S. motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. • Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), adopted the code in 1930, began enforcing it in 1934, and abandoned it in 1968 • The Production Code spelled out what was acceptable and what was unacceptable content for motion pictures produced for a public audience in the United States.
The Hays Code Prohibited the following: • Pointed profanity – this includes the words "God," "Lord," "Jesus," "Christ" (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), "hell," "damn," "Gawd," and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled; • Any licentious or suggestive nudity-in fact or in silhouette; and any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture; • The illegal traffic in drugs; • Any inference of sex perversion; • White slavery • Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races); • Sex hygiene and venereal diseases; • Scenes of actual childbirth – in fact or in silhouette; • Children's sex organs; • Ridicule of the clergy; • Willful offense to any nation, race or creed;
3. Religion and Politics: The elections of the 1980’s and 2008/2012 • 1984 & 1988 Elections • Jesse Jackson and Black Churches • 2008 & 2012 Elections • Barrack Obama
Jesse Jackson • American civil rights activist and Baptist minister • Participated in Selma march with MLK • Headed SCLC office in Chicago • PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) leader • Candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 • 1988 “The Year of Jackson”; the rainbow coalition
II. Religion as a unifying factor in the U.S. • WASP America (White Anglo-Saxon protestants) • Civil Rights Movement C. Televangelists and mega-churches
A. WASP America A Country Built on a Religious World Vision To whatextentis the protestant religion inseparablefrom the history of American society? A nation founded by protestants comingfrom Europe
Christian Values whichleave a mark on society • Individualfreedom, moral rigor, definite line between good and evil • Materialsuccessaccompaniesthat of the soul, positive meaninggiven to wealth • Charities and Acts of good willtowardsothers (social reform, Prohibition) • Early 20th c. Conservative Protestants and Catholicsreject social change Modernists vs. Traditionalists and Evolutionists vs. Creationists
B. Churchescommitted to civil rights for blacks • Church isonly refuge for blacks – victims of racism and segregation • Found black churches(schools, newspapers, banksfollow) • SCLC: Southern Christian Leadership Council, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., founded in 1957 early years, SCLC struggled to gain footholds in black churches and communities across the South. Social activism in favor of racial equality faced fierce repression. Only a few churches had the courage to defy the white-dominated status-quo by affiliating with SCLC, and those that did risked economic retaliation against pastors and other church leaders, arson, and bombings.
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand lodge ofthe State of New York Laying the 1st Cornerstone for the AbyssinianBaptist Church located on 138th Street, New York, NY (Harlem) in 1920.
C. Televangelists and MegaChurches • Billy Graham • Oral Roberts • Jimmy Swaggart • Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker • Jerry Fallwell • Pat Robertson
Billy Graham • Known as the Evangelical Pope • After initial animosity, reached out to Catholics • Spokesman for the Evangelical Movement
Billy Graham’s Crystal Palace in LA Video: ‘Just Say No’ by Dr. Billy Graham
"Clearly, in our society," he writes, "two large groups are talking past one another. One fails to see legitimacy in religious values. The other fails to see legitimacy in irreligion." The fact that these two large groups are talking past one another is not a trivial matter. It has consequences--consequences for the nature of human inquiry and moral discourse; consequences, in practical terms, for the way in which we as a pluralistic polity deal with a host of pressing national concerns. The United States is not, after all, Western Europe, where religious alienation runs through society at all levels--is almost a form of common ground. Here, religious faith remains powerful. According to a recent Gallup Poll, nine out of ten Americans say they have never doubted the existence of God. Source: Cullen Murphy, “Religion and the Cultural Elite” 1994
III. Religion and Social Causes 2 issues continue to spark division along religious lines: 1. Abortion (Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life) 2. Same-sex Marriage 75% of “religious” Americans against both issues 18% of all Americans against both issues
2. Same-Sex Marriage • Movement began in 1970’s • November 2013, fourteen states covering 34% of the US population – issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples • May 9, 2012, Obama became first US President to publicly declare support for the legalization of same-sex civil marriage • Opposition by religious right
3. RisingPolorization in US Political Life Religious right and the Tea Party Video: Top 10 Angry Conservatives
ReligiousPlurality: American Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Protestants A. Religiousmosaic: Evolution of Protestantism 1. Baptists and the Bible Belt 2. Rise of new denominations: Mormons and JehovahWitnesses 3. Progressive rise in diverse immigrant groups since 1945 has increasedplurality
Religion in US Society since 1890 B. Slow Contemporary Evolution Despiteincrease of agnostics and atheistsafter 1960’s social/cultural revolution, esp withyouth, religious affiliation remainsstrong 1. Bible belt 2. Utah and Mormons 3. Isolatedprejudiceagainstminority groups e.g. Muslims
C. ReligiousToleranceremainsfundamental national value 1. 33% marriagesinterreligious 2. 40% population change religions 3. 80% Americansagainst intervention of religion in political life 4. Supreme Court ruledagainstmandatoryprayer in public schools
WE are so used to thinking of spirituality as withdrawal from the world and human affairs that it is hard to think of it as political. Spirituality is personal and private, we assume, while politics is public. But such a dichotomy drastically diminishes spirituality construing it as a relationship to God without implications for one's relationship to the surrounding world. The God of Christian faith (I shall focus on Christianity although the God of the New Testament is also the God of the Old Testament) created the world and is deeply engaged in the affairs of the world. The notion that we can be related to God and not to the world—that we can practice a spirituality that is not political—is in conflict with the Christian understanding of God. Source: The Atlantic, “Can we be Good without God?” 1989
D. Jews in America How has the Jewish diaspora integratedinto American society?