I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion for who can search the human heart? but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.
Alexis de Tocqueville
In most western societies, modernization has been accompanied by a marked decline in religious observance. America, in contrast, has remained unusually religious. Church buildings representing an astonishing variety of faiths line residential streets, outnumbering even the gas stations. Sunday morning traffic is typically congested as people drive to Sunday School and church. Most bookstores have an entire section of religious books and report a tremendous volume of sales of books about Christianity and Christian living. Bibles continue to be the nation's best-selling books.
Religiousness is conspicuous. Billboards, T-shirts, and bumper stickers bear
messages such as "Jesus Saves." There are even tew Disneyland-type tourists parks, such as South Carolina's "Heritage USA," devoted entirely to religious themes. These visible reminders of America's religious activity are accompanied by impressive statistics:
More than nine out of ten Americans say they believe in God
One third claim they are born-again Christians
More than four out of ten attend church or synagogue at least once a week
Two thirds are members of a local church or synagogue
Interest in religion is high even among young people, whose religious activity has typically been less regular than that of their parents and grandparents. A Gallup poll indicates that young Americans are far more religious than their counterparts in most other countries. About 41 percent of America s young people feel that religion should be "very important" in life, a percentage far greater than in Australia, Britain, France, Japan, Sweden, and West Germany.
Religion in America today is built primarily on the structure of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Within each of these groups there is great diversity. Among Protestants alone, there are 186 different organizations. Besides the three major groupings of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, there are about 1,500 major and minor sectarian churches. Among these sects are established groups such as the Quakers and Mormons. There are also bizarre groups such as the Holiness Church, which is a snake-handling cult.
The degree of religious diversity in America becomes evident when one compares the religious composition of American society with that of its neighbors. Mexico's population is 96 percent Catholic. Canada's three largest denominations, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and the United Church of Canada, account for 86 percent of total membership. To account for 86 percent of America's total church membership, it is necessary to add together 19 separate denominations. The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits an established national religion and protects the individual's right to practice the religion of his or her choice.
The immigrants who first came to America from countries all over the world brought a variety of religions. Many came with the express purpose of establishing communities where they could practice their own form of worship without interference or fear of persecution.
The acceptance of religion throughout the general culture and civil society has followed a similarly circuitous path. In this work we are to examine and to understand the current situation in the USA. This is the aim of our work.
This aim brought out the following tasks:
1. to find out the origin of religion, from where it comes from;
2. to trace the formation of religious organizations, movements, and denominations in the United States of America;
3. to examine the connection between religion and other spheres of life in the United States of America, to consider in what way they influence each other;
4. to analyze what lies in the basis of these problems.
1. Groups of theories on the origin of religion
Groups of theories
Science-based theories of religion
2. Short prehistory of religion in the USA
1. Religious traditions in early America
1.1. About puritans
Major faiths, religious organizations, and denominations
1 .Major faiths
1.1.1. Protestant decline
1.2.1. Trends in the catholic community
1.6.1. John Woolman
2. Religious movements, organizations, and denominations
2.1. Increasing pluralism
2.2. Sects and cults
2.3. Rise of the evangelical movement
2.3.1. Humanism & religion
2.4. The electronic church
3.1. Religious peoples attitudes on moral issues
3.2. Membership of religious bodies, 1983-4
1. Understanding of atheism
1.1. The definition of atheism
1.2. Atheism vs. agnosticism: what is the difference?
1.3. Is atheism a religion?
1.4. Does atheism require faith?
1.5. Are atheists just in denial about Gods existence?
1.6. Why do atheists promote atheism?
2. Atheism & religion
3. Ritual acts focused on sacred objects, places, times
The connection of religion with other spheres of American life
1. Religion and politics
2. Religion and society. Religious holidays
3. Religion and mass media
4. Religion and education
5. American ideals and religion
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4. America in close-up. Eckhard Fiedler, Reimer Jansen, Mil Norman. risch, Longman.
5. Peter Bromhead. Life in modern America: new edition, Longman.