Religion is one of the most important factors that define the social life of Americans in the modern society. According to Christiano, Kivisto, and Swatos (2002), the economic and political environment has numerous challenges that are associated with the increasing level of stress among the American population. People are now turning to religion as a way of finding solace and peace after spending hours on their stressful jobs. A number of factors influence the future of religion in this country.
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One of the most important factors that are shaping the future of religion in the United States is media. The technological advancement in the field of communication has transformed the manner in which religious messages are passed from the religious leaders to their congregations. In the past, Christians had to go to church or attend forums organized by churches to get the word of God. However, this has changed over the past years with the emergence of televangelists.
Mass media, especially television and radio, has made it possible for people to get the message they desire right in their homes without necessarily going to church. It does not mean that televangelism has made church attendance less popular. The new approach of delivering messages to the audience has made it possible for those interested in getting the word of God regularly in the course of the week to get it without having to visit the churches.
Muslims and other religious groups are following the same trend. Social media is another aspect of media that is currently having a massive impact on religion today. In the past, it was not easy for a Christian to convert to Islam and vice versa.
This was so because it would require a Christian to go to the mosque and listen to preaching. That is no longer necessary in modern society where all messages that one may need about the other religion are easily accessible on the internet. It is also easy for people to discuss issues about religion in the social media platforms, making it possible to address myths and misconceptions associated with a given religious group.
Globalization is another major influential factor that is shaping the future of religion in America. Technological advancement in the field of transport and communication is transforming the world into a small global village (Berger, 2006). Geographical barriers to movement that existed before have been eliminated. The result is increased interaction among people of different religious beliefs. In the recent past, the United States has experienced an increased number of Muslims from the Arab world immigrating into the country. They get to interact with Christians and people of other faiths and some of them get converted. Sometimes it is these immigrants who get converted into Christianity after interacting with Christians in the country.
The emergence of mega-churches in America has a major impact on the future of religion in this country. A new trend that started about three centuries ago where large churches are constructed to accommodate a large congregation is increasingly getting popular. In 1990, it was estimated that there were only 350 mega-churches in the United States. This number has grown to over 1600 today, and the trend shows that more is yet to come up.
A section of the society now prefers attending megachurches because they believe they have better forums where they can get support, especially when they are facing personal challenges in life. They get to meet different people that may help them in different ways to overcome issues they are struggling with within their social, economic, and political lives. Some people are drawn to Christianity because of the beauty of these mega-churches. They go to these churches, not only to get spiritual nourishment but also to get entertained.
Additional Factors That Influence the Future of Religion in America
A number of factors, other than the ones discussed in the section above, also have significant impacts on the future of religion in the United States. One good example is the emergence of sectarian violence. Most of the terror groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda draw their inspiration from Islamic teachings (Hout, Fischer, & Chaves, 2013). They justify their attacks using the message in the Quran. A section of the society in America today associated Islam with terrorism.
Islam is seen as a religion for rebellious movements and people who are not satisfied with the current regimes. This did not start in modern society. In fact, Islam grew in popularity among the African American youths in the 1960s when they were fighting for equal rights for all Americans.
Malcolm X and Mohammed Ali were once Christians. However, they converted to Islam when they started experiencing challenges with the government authorities. Malcolm became a Muslim while in prison, while Ali converted to Islam when he realized that the government was forcing him to serve in the military against his wish (Christiano, Kivisto, & Swatos, 2002). As such, Islam was seen as a religion of resistance. American society started viewing it as a force that can help the minority fight those in power and believed to be oppressive in their policies.
The increasing level of literacy in the United States may also have an impact on the future of religion in America. People are becoming more knowledgeable and are now questioning more. For instance, debates have emerged questioning how Rome, a kingdom that was keen to persecute pioneers of Christianity, became the center of modern-day Christianity (Hout, Fischer, & Chaves, 2013). Such fundamental questions sometimes make people rethink and reevaluate their religious stand.
How the Insights Relate to Muslims and Christians
The insights discussed above have significant impacts on Islam and Christianity. The above factors have made it possible for Christians and Muslims to have a better understanding of their religion. For instance, social media has created an environment where people can have debates about some of the controversies concerning their religion. Christians and Muslims can objectively discuss if indeed Islamic teachings promote sectarian violence and why most of the terror groups use teachings from the Quran to support their actions.
Sometimes such forums may help people from different religious groups to live in harmony. Christians, Muslims, and other religious groups get to learn that they can be of different beliefs but still share the same American dream. They get to learn how to stay together even if they do not share religious beliefs. It is important to note that the same media that can help people of different faiths to integrate easily is often used to divide the nation along religious lines. Such cases are common when a section of the society believe that they are unfairly treated by instruments of the government or by society in general.
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Berger, P. (2006). Religion in a Globalizing World. Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life. Web.
Christiano, K. J., Kivisto, P., & Swatos, W. H. (2002). Sociology of religion: Contemporary developments. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.
Hout, M., Fischer, C., & Chaves, M. (2013). More Americans Have No Religious Preference: Key Finding from the 2012 General Social Survey. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.