Imagined Communities

Topics: Nation, United States, Religion Pages: 5 (1867 words) Published: August 30, 2007
When America was founded, it was based on principles such as freedom and equality. However, when it was first founded it did not adhere to these principles. In more recent times the country has made significant improvements in terms of religious and racial pluralism. This has brought America closer to the values and ideals that it was originally founded on. Benedict Anderson argues, "A nation is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign."(Anderson, 6). Through these advances, America has come closer to achieving Anderson's belief of an imagined political community. Anderson believes it to be imagined because "the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communities."(Anderson, 6) This can be seen in the example of the love that Catholics have for the Vatican or that Jews have for Israel. Both are their homelands and main places of worship, however most people in America have never been there. They still claim the other members of their religion to be their brothers in that religion and to love one another despite never knowing one another. It may be compared to a college fraternity or a sorority in which everyone refers to each other as brother and sister but they might not ever know any of their brothers and sisters from other colleges throughout the nation. Anderson claims, "In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact are imagined."(Anderson, 6) just because we do not know everyone in a community does not mean we are not a part of it; we still identify ourselves as that whole community. While we identify ourselves, as one community we are in fact limited both religiously and racially. Anderson states that "The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations."(Anderson, 7) It is religiously limited, for example, in that the Christians do not dream of having an entire Christian planet, there are boundaries there. There are too many other religions to make one completely Christian planet. America has done a great job with this in tolerating all religions, which is why America now has so many separate religions. America itself does not try to force other religions on other people; they are limited to their own individual sects as America shows a strong belief in religious pluralism. The development of religious pluralism in America was somewhat a lengthy situation in which there have always been advances by the Protestant religion to make America a Protestant nation. Hutchinson presents the reader with an example of what the Protestant nation tried to push for in the constitution, "We the people of the United States, humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Ruler among the nations, and His revealed will as the supreme law of the land, in order to constitute a Christian government."(Hutchinson, 79) of course, the nation would not allow this because we believe in religious pluralism and we respect the boundaries between each religion that takes part in American society. One can also look at the example of inclusion and exclusion, and how both have increased in America throughout time. When the nation was founded, America was 85% white protestant and there was not much to include or to exclude, there was nothing to put boundaries on or to limit. Nevertheless, as the population grew and America became a more diverse nation America found itself including and excluding many different groups for many different reasons and found those groups putting up boundaries between many different individual people of different races and religions. Along with religious boundaries, America has also been...

Cited: Jacoby, Tamar. "The Beginning of the End of Race". Racial Liberalism and the Politics of Urban America. East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University, 2003.
Hutchison, William R. Religious Pluralism in America. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003.
Anderson, Benedict. "Imagined Communities" London: VERSO, 1991.
Cochran, David Carroll "Liberal Political Theory 's Multicultural Blind Spot and Race in the
United States". Racial Liberalism and the Politics of Urban America. East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University, 2003.
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