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Religion refers to multifaceted dogmas and does that point to a set of standards and comprehension of the significance of actuality. All over the world, human beings have engaged in religion for thousands of years. In the United States and Australia, a number of their citizens cannot trace their place of origins in the last century (McDannell 2002, p. 123).
Equally, up to a quarter of them were born outside of the two countries. Surprisingly, most of the major world’s religious groups are represented in the two countries. In some other parts of the world such as in Europe and Asia, religion was practiced as early as 2000 years ago.
In both countries, the indigenous religions have vanished as the natives adopt the religions from outside the continents. This illustrates that spiritual values and forms can vary quite rapidly, whereas features of the old religion created elsewhere can also be preserved. This article seeks to compare and contrast the significance of religion in Australia and the United States.
Significance of religion in Australia
In Australia, the sacred societies that have faith in religion portray a number of diverse structures of conviction, practice, and group, which determine their attitudes towards life. Two-third of the country’s populations is made up Christians (Bouma 2006, p. 79).
The other one-third comprises of the Islam, Buddhists, Jewish, and atheist. Despite its popularity, religion plays a significant role in the attentions and ordinary lives of few Australians. With respect to the research done by International Survey, 28% of the Australians consider themselves non-religious (Bouma 2006, p. 79). Among this group, religious practices and values have hardly featured in their day-to-day lives.
According to the same survey, 25% of Australians consider themselves as deeply religious (Bouma 2006, p. 80). Equally, 44% of the Australians categorize themselves spiritual. However, religion does not play a vital role in their day-to- day lives.
Forty eight percent of Australians do not participate in personal prayer. Similarly, 52% do not attend religious gatherings. In general, religious conviction scored lesser than all other parts of Australians daily life, considered that more than 50% of the population perceive religion the least significant unlike families, partners, or careers.
From mid 19th century, the state provided aid to various organizations to establish and run churches and schools across Australia. These institutions formed the basis of an ordered social existence and community life. Ever since then, churches have played major roles in civilizing Australians.
They have inculcated principles of integrity and character, which have enhanced civic accountability and admiration for others. From the 19th century, churches have collectively enhanced the democratic ideals and practices that preceded the formation of the Australian nation state. These churches were intrinsic to the success of the Australian democratic experiment.
The church missionary activities socialized and cultured ordinary people, so endowing them with the kinds of property and capital that was the requisite for the achievement of the democratic ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the regional and federal governments.
Similarly, religion has had a say in the education and development of youths. Through this, religion has had an influence on their social behaviours and promoted the comradeship and civic literacy that is crucial to democratic participation.
Moreover, all through Australian history, religion has played a vital role in legitimating political power, bestowing certain leaders with supernatural powers, providing social power to governments and laws, and strengthening prospects of service and public spirit on the part of persons (Hughes & Howe 2003, p. 71).
With respect to civic responsibility, reputable parishioners have always served as examples of public service and virtue (Galligan & Roberts 2004, p. 212). They have always set up and drilled local reliant for social charitable defence forces.
They have been involved in supporting and staffing local volunteer fire brigades and campaigning for measures for the expansion and development of civic life through the provision of public halls, gardens, and library services. Civic leaders in Australia have always been inspired by their religious convictions to work for the benefit of their fellow citizens.
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A number of religious Australians are not just believers but religion plays a significant role in their conventional lives. Their faith has had a major influence on the manner in which they raise their children, provide support to the needy, and participate in particular events such as births, marriages, and deaths. Equally, researchers assert that spiritual beliefs play a significant role in determining how Australians treat nature.
Contrastingly, it has been identified that religious conviction has less significance with respect to sexuality and how they expend their leisure time. Similarly, religious convictions have less significance in Australians’ political views. For instance, Catholics in particular do not let their faith determine their perceptions on sexuality and politics. On the other hand, Protestants are more predisposed in these aspects by their faith.
Significance of religion in America
Like in Australia, a majority of Americans categorizes themselves as Christians. It is estimated that 73 to 80% of Americans associate themselves with Christianity (Kosmin & Keysar 2009, p. 4). On the other hand, 15 to 20% of Americans do not identify themselves with any religious group.
A recent study done by the American Religious Identification Survey illustrate that 51% of those identifying themselves as Christians are protestant affiliates, while 25% are catholic affiliates (Kosmin & Keysar 2009, p. 4). According to the study, other religious groups such as Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism constitute 4% of the American population.
Regardless of an elevated level of spiritual adherence among the Americans, it is worrying to note that below 10% of the population consider religion as an important facet of their daily lives. Like the Australians, most Americans consider family, career, and partners as paramount unlike religion.
Religion plays significant roles in American lives just as in Australian lives. As in Australia, it is apparent that religion has had a significant impact on Americans politics (Corbett 2009, p. 36). Continuing arguments over abortion and stem cell studies are clear proofs that religion influences political views of most Americans.
During the 2004s’ presidential election, ethical principles dominated most election campaigns. It was found that 80% of those who supported the subject chose George W. Bush as their president. Bush won the elections because he identified himself with Christianity (Corbett 2009, p. 38). In the 2006 U.S. Congress, 93% of those elected identified themselves with the Christian faith.
Similarly, a poll conducted in the year 1999 showed that over 90% of Americans could vote for a Jewish, Catholic, female or Baptist candidate, whereas 79% could vote for a Mormon contender (Corbett 2009, p. 40). According to the same poll, 59% could vote for a homosexual contender, whereas 49% could vote for an atheist.
This implies that a few Americans were willing to vote for an atheist as their president. Concerning these statistics, it is apparent that to be voted into an American national political office, it is important to be religious and above all be identified with Christianity.
As in Australia, religion has played a vital role in American education. This can be evidenced from the recent heated debates on the presence of religion in American learning institutions. Current studies indicate that a number of Americans grant spiritual values an elevated priority compared to scientific education.
A similar survey conducted in the year 2001 revealed that 45% of Americans perceived that human beings are the product of God’s creations regardless of irresistible scientific proofs of evolution (Kosmin & Keysar 2009, p. 6). Based on this, it is apparent that science education has had little influence on many Americans.
Compared to Americans, Australians are considered less religious. Current studies rank Australia number seventeen out of twenty-one polled countries. This is a stark dissimilarity to the United States. As such, 60% of the Americans are religious, whereas 11% are not affiliated with any religion.
Another difference between the significance of religion in Australia compared to its significance in the United States is that Americans have a form of civic religion, which is more explicit in many areas of life (Galligan & Roberts 2004, p. 296).
Unlike in the United States, religion in Australia is considered a private matter. Despite the fact that there are robust evangelical communities around Sydney and other major cities, it should be noted that their presence is yet to translate into a clear public voice of the sort commanded by groups such as Southern Baptists and the Christian Coalition in the United States.
In Australia, the calls by these religious groups towards more active participation in public affairs have been met with several challenges. For instance, during the year 2001, an Anglican leader urged Sydney Christians to enhance their ambitions to evangelize Australia. His calls were condemned with various magazines and newspapers terming the idea as arrogant and dangerous.
The media industry emphasized that matters of religion should remain private in a religiously diverse country. Based on the above illustrations, it can be argued that religion in Australia is less significant than in the United States.
Not like in Australia, religion in the United States has had greater impacts on some businesses and in some instances has created businesses. For instance, during the year 2002 it was estimated that Christians services and products earned the American economy $4.2 billion (Stokes 2002, p. 45).
Similarly, Christian associated stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart have been opening new stores year by year across America. Similarly, over the last two decades America has witnessed the rise of mega-churches. These churches operate in the same way businesses operate and spread the message of prosperity to their followers. These churches are so popular in the United States as compared with Australia.
In conclusion, it should be noted that there are many similarities and differences between the significance of religion in both Australian and American lives. For instance, churches have played major roles in civilizing Australians and the Americans. They have inculcated principles of integrity and character, which have enhanced civic accountability and admiration for others.
Ever since the Europeans settled in the regions, churches and other religious institutions have continually enhanced the democratic ideals and practices that preceded the formation of the two nations. Equally, religion has an influence on their education systems.
For instance, religion in the two regions has enhanced development and social behaviours, which have promoted the comradeship and civic literacy crucial to democratic participation among the youth. In addition, religion has influenced politics in the two nations in a number of ways.
As such, religion has played a vital role in legitimating political power, bestowing certain leaders with supernatural powers, providing social power to governments and laws, and strengthening prospects of service and public spirit on the part of the population.
Despite the similarities, several features differentiate the significance of religion in the two nations. Compared to Americans, Australians are considered less religious. Current studies rank Australia number seventeen out of twenty-one polled countries.
This is a stark dissimilarity to the United States. Similarly, unlike in the United States, religion in Australia is considered a private matter. In Australia, the calls by religious leaders towards more active participation in public affairs have met with several challenges.
Based on the above arguments, it is evident that Christianity is significant in the lives of most Australians and Americans. Despite the fact that it is tricky to forecast how religion will keep on to manipulate residents of the two countries, the decrease in the significance of religion among the youths and scholars give the impression that religion’s effects on Americans and Australians will continue to diminish in the near future.
Bouma, G, D 2006, Australian soul: religion and spirituality in the 21st century. Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne.
Corbett J, M 2009, Politics and religion in the United States. Garland Pub, New York.
Galligan, B., & Roberts, W 2004, Australian citizenship, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic.
Hughes, P. J., & Howe, B 2003, Spirit of Australia II: religion in citizenship and national life. ATF Press, Hindmarsh, S. Aust.
Kosmin, B, A., & Keysar, A 2009, American religious identification survey (ARIS 2008) summary report. Trinity College,Hartford, Conn.
McDannell, C 2002, Religions of the United States in practice.Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J.
Stokes, M 2002, The state of U.S. history, Berg, Oxford, UK.