The place of religion in American culture

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In this article, Tisa Wenger explains how contemporary American society continues to discriminate against individuals in the name of religion. Based on the report, the segregationists and the slaveholders did it, and hence it should not be considered as an unusual occurrence. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The court is supposed to determine whether Jack Phillip’s refusal to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because it would violate his right to expression and exercise of religion aligns to the place of faith in the American culture (Wenger 1). The issue of religion has played a significant role in the history of America and the Americans. In the prehistoric era, Europeans moved to America to escape the religious oppression as well as forced beliefs in their countries. Similarly, the Americans were impacted by the issue, and this caused the forefathers to establish the organization of a nation where people would be free to practice their faith without fear of being victimized. The First Amendment indicates that the constitution shall not make any law respecting the creation of religion or barring its free practice.

Currently, there are more than 900 denominations in the United States, and the majority of the Americans are affiliated with a specific denomination. The tension between civil rights and religious freedom are evident in American history, and the constitution tries to reduce the gap. In this case, the law places supreme value on the freedom of religion. However, there emerges a confusion as the constitution is not able to balance between free exercise of religion and discrimination. In the past, inequality was justified by factors such as racial segregation, slavery, faith, and the scripture. Before the establishment of civil rights, the African Americans were often denied their freedoms based on religion (Foner 216). Religious freedom carries a massive constitutional and cultural weight. Every American, regardless of their ethnic background, expects that the constitution is sufficient enough to protect the religious beliefs. Therefore, the Americans consider religion as a way of life which must be balanced against other American ideals.

The religious diversity in America is a source of social strength as indicated by the founders. Today, Christian groups have found comfort in America due to the efforts made to ensure that there is freedom of worship. Additionally, this has enhanced assimilation where people from diverse racial backgrounds come together. Past literature concerning American history indicates that religious practices substantially benefited community life and family. Similarly, America’s contemporary culture holds that the freedom of religion creates cohesiveness and ensures that people tolerate each other in the society (Foner 181-183). For example, there has been stronger civic participation as well as more significant liberal expression where discrimination is discouraged.

Additionally, religious institutions and religious ideals have led to social reforms throughout America’s cultural history. The prophetic role of religion has been seen as an essential ingredient in creating America’s stability based on social justice. Currently, people who are found discriminating other individuals based on their religion is considered to have committed an offense which is punishable by a court of law. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the slaveholders defended slavery by arguing that in the Bible, it fits within God’s plan. However, the constitution has evolved and changed this notion to one where religious freedom is part of the American ideals.

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  1. Foner, Eric. Voices of Freedom – A Documentary History. New York / London: W.W Norton & Company, 2017.
  2. Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History: Seagull Fourth Edition. Vol. 1. WW Norton & Company, 2013.
  3. Wenger, Tisa. “Perspective | Discriminating in the Name of Religion? Segregationists and Slaveholders Did It, Too.” Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2017.
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