Unit 9 Project
Religion and Identity
Professor Paul Forrey
January 13, 2013
The question often arrived what is religion? There are more than one answer to this depending on one’s culture, identity, ethics and beliefs. Religion can be found in different cultures and throughout the whole period of human history. There is evidence that shows signs of religion such as animal spirits in art and human burials that suggest the belief in life after death. There have been many different answers and definition to what religion is (Van Voorst, 2013). According to Robert E. Van Voorst (2013), religion is “Pattern of beliefs and practices that expresses and enacts what a community regards as sacred and/or ultimate about life (pg.5).
In addition to that, there is the separation of church and state. In America, the right to freedom of religion is very central to the American democracy that it was preserved in the First Amendment to the Constitution along with other rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of press. The country’s founders restrict the separation of church and state. This is due to the prohibition against government regulation or endorsement of religion. According to American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (2012), the standard of separation has been regularly tested. In early America, even after church establishment ended, some state legislators sought to revive the compulsory taxation of citizens to support religious institutions. In this century, public schools were once required to teach the biblical version of the earth's and humanity's creation, while the scientific theory of evolution was prohibited. Throughout our history, sectarian advocates have tried to inject religious exercises, such as daily prayer, into the public schools. At times, religious minorities, including members of "cults," have been discriminated against because of their beliefs. And today, many citizens in many communities disagree about whether a model of the infant Jesus in the manger, which officially promotes certain religious beliefs over others, should be displayed on the steps of City Hall. The courts must frequently consider where to draw the line that separates church and state (¶5). Religion is one of our most critical tradition and constitutional rights and must stand against anything that would challenge the standard of separation, which protects that freedom.
Reid Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church was the group that I visited. Though it is not my own religious practice, it qualifies as a religion. Driving up to the church there is a sign that has the name of the church boldly written in LED lights. The welcome message display in red across the board says “All Are Welcome”. Inside of Reid Temple church they have a Cross as their symbol posted high where all can see. The service was nice with the choir singing praises to God and special prayer request were taken. After the service, I spoke with the Senior Pastor about his church and what exactly do they believe in. I was informed that their slogan is “Aiming to Please through the 5 E’s. This came from II Corinthians 5:9 which states “So whether at home or away, we make our aim to please Him. (RSV). The 5 E’s were described to me as “Evangelism which is sowing the seed of God’s Word in the hearts of all people. Empowerment which is bestowing love and guidance on believers to disciple them in fulfilling their purpose. Education which is knowing the will of God through study and obedience of His Word. Economics which is flowing in financial prosperity according to God’s wealth principles and Expansion which is growing in all ministry areas to reach the growing harvest of souls” ( Washington, L. Personal interview January 13, 2013). The cross is a reminder of their pledge and it also reminds them that Jesus died for their sins...