Influence of Religion on Developing Societies essay

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The American society is characterized by various religious groups by virtue of the complex interactions that have taken place through its history. The resultant impact of religion on the vast American society also shows significant changes through different timelines. This is especially evident through the different distinct time periods showing unique aspects, which are exhibited through human belief and culture. The fact that there are numerous other factors have also predominantly affected the different transitions seen in America as a developing society it is important to note that there is significant integration among these factors and religion. The impact of religion the American society’s development fundamentals has been mainly driven by different personalities who exhibit variations with regard to situational and location factors each of which portray the manifested changes through different time frames.

Influence Between 1865-1876 and its Significance

The end of the civil war during this period saw religion being used primarily as a mode of organizing people especially the blacks who were previously under slavery settings in order to elevate their freedom of expression. The approach used to achieve these fundamentals pursued the use of missionary perspectives in order to spur an integration of two different societies due to the predominant racial divide. During this time there was evident transition of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) into the southern domain more than other religious organizations and were later joined in 1870 by south based Colored Methodist Episcopal Church founded by some of the indigenous black leaders (Maffly-Kipp, 2004). The aim here was to eliminate the impact of racism, which was very evident in these                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  settings especially by allowing its members to proactively participate in other societal arenas, for instance, politics, professional involvement, and educational                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              activities. Individuals who made a lasting mark included Daniel Payne who was an AME bishop. Daniel Payne sought to educate southern blacks on the aspects of true Christianity so that the ex-slaves could forfeit remnants of African practices like dancing, drumming and moaning by embracing modern ideas incorporated in the intellectual style seen in religion (Maffly-Kipp, 2004). This impact was primarily evident in the Governorship race in which religions played a significant role in swaying votes on either sides of the collision. According to Poole, “The ritual and rhetoric that accompanied the so-called Hampton Days of September and October 1876 depicted the conflict between Democrat Wade Hampton and Republican incumbent Daniel H. Chamberlain as a religious struggle between good and evil (between ‘Hampton’ and ‘hell’) and preyed upon white anxieties about white anxieties about ideas of race and gender” (Poole, 2002).

Influence Between 1877-1920

The onset of the period coming especially after the 1880s saw the entrance of class based issues into the religious domain with significant focus upon middle class blacks who started uplifting religious life like the white counterparts (Maffly-Kipp, 2004). In addition there was more proactive involvement of black religious leaders in setting up interdominational institutions like the YMCA and the Sunday school movements (Maffly-Kipp, 2004). 

In addition, the impact religion has led to in the American society includes the emancipation of gender perspectives in a typical male dominated society. This proved to be a challenging aspect to implement in a critical in an orderly manner. According to Winter (2002), “Working men, while they shared this language of manhood to the extent that manhood was to mean civilized morality, sobriety, and independence, frequently resisted the attempts at moral uplift made on their behalf” (p.115).

Class issues became a critical aspect seen in the American social environment. Furthermore associations like YMCA made significant attempts at institutional expansion strategies through articulation and elaboration of professional standards for its secretaries, which elementally enhanced the cultural pressures experienced by men in attaining satisfying careers as men (Winter, 2002). This serves to postulate a war aimed at achieving a class war elementally based on gender roles. A significant figure was the first secretary of the YMCA’s Industrial Department founded in 1902 who entirely blamed the aspect of poverty evident in some families on the engagement in immorality behaviors by the fathers and husbands (Winter, 2002). This was elementally meant to show how one gender was committed towards the achievement of class fundamentals at the expense of family duties.

Influence Between 1921-1945

The onset of 1920s saw significant progression towards the development of conservative forces of religion in a bid to oppose drastic changes taking place in the American society. This period had significant instances of puzzling religious phenomena especially the ones geared towards the persistence of fundamentalism, which was vivid in the South (Jeansonne, 2004). The fundamentalist approach was significantly seen as a conservative way of thinking. In fact, most modernists made accusations against fundamentalists that they were being anti-intellectual by promoting the use of the Bible to fight new ideas (Jeansonne, 2004). This radical approach saw the people increasing admiring people who used it in a good way to change societal elements. As Jeansonne (2004) ascertains that, “In perhaps no segment of society was the struggle between transformation and reaction so apparent as among Protestant Christians. Many Protestant denominations were polarized between liberal and conservative factions, and there was some polarization between denominations” (p.43).

The impact of religion during this time was elementally felt across different sections of the divide. For instance, Jeansonne (2004) states, “there were physical, emotional, intellectual, and personal changes, not all of them salutary” (p.42)

One significant personality during this period was Peal who n 1933 he started a radio program called ‘the art of living’ which was active for 40 years and apart from this in 1952 he published a best seller christened ‘The Power of positive thinking (Jeansonne, 2004). His relatively simple preaching style had a great impact especially on Jewish-American sentiments making them draw from their European roots (Jeansonne, 2004). This therefore marked the beginning of the Americanization of religion into the traditional American family setting.

This period also saw the commercialization of Christianity through the establishment of churches as a mode towards financial progression in certain circumstances. Churches were increasingly being judged on account of their productivity apart from others hiring efficiency experts (Jeansonne, 2004). This factor was especially promoted by one minister by the name Bruce Barton. During formulation of the first Rotary luncheon the minister sought to elevate ‘Jesus Christ’s’ status to that one of a business oriented person by elevating Him as having being the first president of the Lion’s international (Jeansonne, 2004).

Influence between 1946-1976 and its Significance

This period saw the increasing involvement of women in the church leadership as opposed to previous times where their role was more of laid back. According to Allitt (2003), “Female leadership was, however, still the exception rather than the rule in mid-century America, especially in the mainstream denominations. The Presbyterian Church accepted the principle of women’s ordination in 1955, and the first minister, Margaret Towner, was ordained the next year, but only a handful of women followed her example” (p.123). This tradition took off rather on a slow pace but there was significant progression over the years. As Allitt (2003) further states that American Lutheran women gained right of ordination in 1970 while Reform Jews did so in 1972 and finally Episcopalians in 1976 led by Suzanne Hiatt (Allitt, 2003).

In essence feminist theology sought to displace androcentrism (male-centeredness) in addition to finding the deeper truths of Christianity that had been lost through domination by patriarchy (male domination) and misogyny (woman-hating) sentiments (Allitt, 2003). One of the most dominant female campaigners for the involvement of women in Christianity included Rosemary Reuther who is known to write that she had to dislodge the tenacious assumptions in humanity the male case was elementally normative (Allitt, 2003). Many women elementally sought to promote female involvement on critical religious decision making processes. Mary Daly after gaining her doctorate in Germany and having published a book ‘The Church and the Second Sex’, in 1971 she became the first woman to preach at the Harvard Divinity School during which she argued that women should create the ‘exodus community’ having been abandoned by Christian churches (Allitt, 2003).

Influence 1976-Present.

The transition from 1976 to the present time shows the manner in which Churches have fundamentally become autonomous entities on their own almost in a move to establish significance independence among the religious American following.

In the 1980s religious bodies become increasingly involved in the emancipation of various societal issues and concerns especially with regard to the asking for reforms. According to Allitt (2003), “This paradox of arguing for reforms on the basis of intense religious beliefs without being allowed to voice them in the public forum was most vividly illustrated in the 1980s on the issues of creationism and abortion” (p.263). There were also issues which emerged with regard to the teaching of evolution in schools on scientific grounds.

Fundamentally speaking, the period pf 1980s saw more instances of frustrations among the moral majority while the 1990s saw more coalition among different Christian groups (Allitt, 2003). This was especially on account of the emerging issues, which potentially sparked conflict of interest among different religious groups.

There have also been increasing fears of the dilution of certain religious affiliations. For instance, this led to an increased intensification of the Jewish Orthodoxy in New York and other Metropolitan areas (Allitt, 2003). This was very evident in different settings. “By 2001, American Jewry consisted of a religiously observant minority and a majority for whom Judaism was a source of pride, tradition, and selective cultural identification” (Allitt, 2003). In the present time there is actually a significant integration among different religious denominations especially those associated with Christianity. This is can be seen in that as different groups experienced tremendous shifts, they increasingly became joined by other religions who include Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Confucians from abroad, Goddess worshippers, New Agers, and native born UFO sectarians (Allitt, 2003). This signifies the move towards integration of religious groups and individuals to achieve common societal functions by appreciating multicultural elements of religion. In the present setting there are new concerns which have come up, for instance, the topic of terrorism (Schwartz, 2004). This has potential sparked increased sentiments of animosity especially towards the integration of Christianity and Muslim beliefs.


The different timelines serve to show the manner in which religion has played a significant role in the development of the modernized American society. These changes have been fundamentally aimed at sensitizing the American society to accept the changing status quo of the American society. Moreover due to the constant creation of socially motivated wars and the enhancement of economic potential among different races and gender, religion was fundamentally used as an awareness scheme to the population. As a result various forms of frustrations were experienced by the various personalities who sought to promote religious beliefs. Different formats and approaches were essentially used, including fundamentalism, liberalism, and conservatism notions (Melissa, 2002). This therefore proves the fact that the impact of religion in the American society’s development fundamentals has been mainly driven by different personalities who exhibit variations with regard to situational and location factors each of which portray the manifested changes through different time frames or transitions.

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