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What are the core beliefs and values of your religion, and how do these religious values correspond and/or conflict with American values we’ve discussed over the year? March 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — americancivilizationclaire @ 7:24 pm

Roman Catholicism is one of the three major branches of Christianity, along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church traces its history to Jesus Christ and the Apostles. It is the second-largest religion in the United States after Protestantism[1]. In 2007, it had about 19,000 churches and 69.1 million members[2]. Broadly, the Roman Catholic faith is rooted in the New Testament. Modern interpreters of the New Testament, for instance, agree to a description of faith as the personal knowledge of God revealing himself in Christ. In general, Roman Catholicism corresponds quite well with American values, as far as family and freedom of religion are concerned. However, Americans, in general, are more individualistic people who prefer relying on themselves in certain domains, and that does not really correspond with the Roman Catholic faith.

Most Americans consider that family is in the social and moral center of the community. That is also the case for Roman Catholics, who believe in a traditional form of family[3]. Besides, abortion and gay marriage are controversial issues for Roman Catholics, but also for some Americans, Republicans in particular. The most conservatives of both Catholics and Americans would like to ban abortion and same-sex marriage, which are considered as going against traditional moral values.

Furthermore, freedom of religion is also important, not only for Americans, but for Catholics too. The Bill of Rights stipulates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof[4].” Many religions coexist in the United States, and sometimes, problems can occur. Nevertheless, the country is seen as a haven of peace where everyone can follow his own religion while respecting the other ones. Roman Catholicism has not always been a tolerant religion, but the popes of the 20th century estimate that the Church should not be involve in political power. They also believe that the state should guarantee the human rights and dignity of all citizens. Freedom of religion in Roman Catholicism corresponds to the core values of most Americans.

However, Roman Catholicism also advocates the care of the poor, sick and others in need, which is not exactly a core American value. Of course, this does not mean Americans are selfish and do not want to help weakest people, but some of them prefer a more individualistic behavior, that is, taking care of yourself, because it is not the role of the state. On the other hand, Catholicism has always conducted charitable activities in order to “carry on the healing mission of Jesus[5].” Nowadays, the American government provides assistance for some of the needy, but the Catholic Church keeps giving assistance to the weakest people.

Nevertheless, this religion still corresponds to some aspects of American values and beliefs. Roman Catholicism is losing members in the United States, but also in other parts of the world. Today there are as many as five million Catholics but of these only about one million attend church regularly[6] and the community is becoming less strict. According to a survey[7], 86% of Catholics believe they “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church”. The religious landscape of the United States is changing, but maybe that the core values Americans share will stay the same, apart from their religion.

 

Sources:


[1] American Civilization: An Introduction, by David Mauk and John Oakland

[2] Idem

[3] “Roman Catholicism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/507284/Roman-Catholicism>

[4]   The Bill of Rights, Amendment I (1791), in American Civilization: An Introduction, by David Mauk and John Oakland

[5] “Roman Catholicism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/507284/Roman-Catholicism>.

 

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