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Religion and Community in the United States

Questions of faith and religion have worried politicians and rulers at all times. The 21st century is no exception, and today one can often hear candidates, party members, or parliamentarians who share their views on the role of religion and the right to freedom of conscience. Many believe that the primary function of religion is to support a person in their faith. But in practice, at least for rulers, religion is more likely a tool to control people through shared values and morality and fight ‘free riders.’ This paper aims to compare and contrast two articles supporting different positions regarding religion’s role in modern society.

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Lind (2009), in his article “America is not a Christian Nation,” argues that the Constitution and several statements by American presidents indicate that the US laws protect the freedom of conscience. The author also notes that many conservatives, such as former presidential candidate John McCain, continue to campaign voters to support candidates with “Christian values.” Lind (2009) disagrees with the conservatives and cites an excerpt from the Preamble to Declaration of Independence saying that “all men have equal natural rights,” which is a basis of American Democracy. The preamble’s main idea is rooted in the Lockean natural rights theory derived from ancient Greek philosophical thought, which was then incorporated into Roman law. The author emphasizes that although the document contains a reference to “Nature’s God,” Lock and his supporters usually used the word “Nature” and did not imply the obligatory presence of the Creator.

Wood (2012), in his article “Does Religion Make Us Moral?” cites the work of the scientist Paul Bloom, who believed that religion is neither good nor evil, but is viewed by the state in terms of utilitarian influence on citizens and what actions they are willing to take under the influence of faith or following the morality of a particular religion. The same idea is present in Linn’s article when the author quotes Edward Gibbon’s description of the Roman religion approach. Back then, the author says, Roman people considered all religions valid, philosophers considered all religions false, and magistrates considered all religions useful.

It is an interesting observation, especially in light of the 15 principles that all religions have in common, cited in the “statement of belief” of the US Integral Church that claims to unite all religions under one roof. These principles can be roughly divided into those concerned with men’s behavior and those regarding the Divine spiritual power. Among these two groups, there is also a particular principle that cannot be attributed to any of them, stating that “God is one.” Most likely, this third type was used as a symbol of the emperor’s sole power, and the word God symbolized the supreme ruler of the state.

On the one hand, it is good that all religions guide people on the right path, instilling in them altruistic moral qualities. On the other hand, according to Wood (2012), when faith helps society members invest more in the public good, they become more suspicious of outsiders and newcomers. But then, a more moral community will take more care of others and contribute to charity. Therefore, politicians should not worry about the existence of many religions since the essence of all faiths can be interpreted to promote activities for society’s good. Both articles also imply that the spiritual component of any faith is irrelevant for politicians and society and has nothing to do with the factor that divides people of different faiths.

Thus, two articles supporting different positions regarding the role of religion in modern society were compared. The authors analyze religion from the point of view of its utilitarianism within the framework of the healthy functioning of society and the state. Both scientists concluded that in this light, the moral and ethical component of religion is more important for the community and the state than the spiritual one. The author of the second article also cites an insightful idea that values common to all religions divide the societies since believers defend their contribution and role in the community, not personal interaction with the Divine.

References

Lind, M. (2009). America is not a Christian nation. Saloon.

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Wood, C. (2012). Does religion make us moral? 

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StudyCorgi. (2022, October 23). Religion and Community in the United States. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/religion-and-community-in-the-united-states/

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StudyCorgi. "Religion and Community in the United States." October 23, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/religion-and-community-in-the-united-states/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Religion and Community in the United States." October 23, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/religion-and-community-in-the-united-states/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Religion and Community in the United States'. 23 October.

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