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Bailey James

HUMA 2400
May 4, 2015
Reflection of Religious Diversity
Today the significance of religion is self-evident, in fact, its changing America in all
spectrums, both physically and culturally. This course covered a great amount of religion. From
influential cults to small minority religions, to the most popular and widespread religions in
America as well as around the world. However, what truly sets America apart and makes it the
most religiously diverse country is its unbinding constitutional right to religious freedom and
providing the ability for economic prosperity.
What was most interesting to me was how the different ethnic and religious groups each
faced certain discriminatory trials, and how religion helped them persevere and even thrive in
such a multicultural society as the United States. Religion was/is a way of uplifting many, giving
people something to look forward to in life, giving meaning and purpose to the lives of many.
You can really learn a lot about a society by its religion. One example is when Japanese
American Buddhists faced a crisis of identity, faith, and loyalty as they endured a harsh journey
to which they were forced to uproot their communities and live in interment camps as prisoners
in their own land. For many, Buddhism not only provided a spiritual refuge for internees but also
the social function of maintaining a sense of family and communal cohesion through ancestral
rituals and traditional Japanese festivals and ceremonies. To such a degree, these unfortunate
events brought the Japanese American community closer together and through the struggle
marked the devotion of Buddhism faith and solidified a new vision of what it meant to be an
American Buddhist.
In America, the cultural forms of religious belief and practice have been and are
extremely diverse, and the way that religion has influenced individual lives and collective social
life in America. In overwhelming numbers, Americans believe in God, prayer, and contribute
their time and money to churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Learning about the history
behind each religion definitely gave me a deeper understanding of their beliefs and an
appreciation for the unique contributions each group has had on our growing society.
Its clear that the diversity of religion has been a prominent feature throughout all of
history. Here in America, even though there are many religions within the nation, much of our
nation has evolved around the teachings of Christian morals, values and integrity. Yet, if we do
not have different religious beliefs in society how will we learn new things, new languages,
cultures, foods, clothing, ways others do that we don't know yet? After taking this class, my
overall perspective is that religion in itself merely teaches ways to be a better person individually
and communally; often instilling principles of love and goodness to one another. Even though
many beliefs differ from church to church, religion is apart of Americas foundation and provides
people with both a set of standards for living a morally upright life and a common group of
fellow believers with whom one can share fellowship with.