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Religion in the United States of America Case Study

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Updated: Jan 28th, 2022

The United States of America is one of the most religious countries in the world with its national values and beliefs. The history informs us about different religions and faiths of various people and nationalities that inhabited the area of North America (Butler, 2005). Nowadays, a lot of universities have theology classes and religious studies. Moreover, religion is essential for American population today. That is why this topic will be discussed below.

“Left Behind” as a Religion Portrayal

My task for this assignment was to find an example of a portrayal of religion in American popular culture and to analyze it. I preferred to choose an example that I am already familiar with for productive research, which happened to be a Christian movie “Left Behind”, starring Nicolas Cage. I had an opportunity to examine this film two times, and I was quite pleased with the way religion is depicted here. This is an excellent portrayal of the Protestant faith, as it demonstrates one of the apocalypse possibilities. Although this piece of art is related to the Bible, religious experts have found some trivial issues and mistakes that contradict the Holy Scripture. Unfortunately, “Left Behind” is much underappreciated by an audience, critics, and experts.

The plot of this incredible movie presents a story of a young girl and her father that did not believe in God. Suddenly, their family members and other people disappeared right in front of them in a blink of an eye. This Protestant religion portrayal represents the end of the world as it was described in the Bible. The film gives its audience an image of how half of American population vanished off the face of the Earth. This fact is not that surprising because the majority of Christians in the USA are Protestants. It has almost become a culture in America to be a Protestant Christian because the country’s population believes that all the infelicities in people’s destinies are caused by the lack of time, spent with God.

The movie “Left Behind” also depicts the faith of the people who honored God and followed the Scripture in every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, this example does not demonstrate any other influence of religion on popular culture in the United States of America. As America is a cosmopolitan country, almost every religion has its followers here. Protestant denomination can be proud of not being as conservative as other confessions are (Fadiman, 2012). This lets Protestants feel free in choosing their career and occupation. For instance, there are a lot of Protestants in the United States of America, who have become very famous rock musicians, TV stars, writers, athletes, and so on.

A Brief History of Protestantism

I have researched the topic of Protestantism and figured out that the first steps into this religion were made by Martin Luther back in the fifteenth century. He was a monk and served God at the Catholic Church. After serving for a little while, he started to blame the church for being a political organization and charging money to the parish for indulgences. Luther’s philosophy was that every individual deserved salvation, regardless of his or her income, status, and ethnic background (Vyhmeister , 2014). Luther was called a Protestant because of his opposition to the Catholic Church. Martin Luther’s Protestant movement was growing day after day and spread out all over Germany in a few years. In a couple of decades, the Protestant church became extremely popular in Europe and other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, people started to segregate from each other after Luther’s death, and formed other similar confessions, regardless of their location. Nevertheless, Lutheranism remains a major confession of Protestant Church nowadays, but the largest American denomination is Baptist, which is being followed by more than 7.5 million Americans and has more than two thousand churches all over the country.

Nowadays, all the nations that believe in God and accepted Protestantism as an official faith are growing rapidly, their economic systems are the most enviable in the world, and their patriots are blessed by God with wealth, longevity, and health.

A plot of the movie “Left Behind”

Chloe Steele came to her hometown after another year of college to see her parents and brother, but her father could not spend any time with her because he was a pilot of a plane, and he had a flight to London. Chloe’s mother was a Protestant Christian, and always made attempts to inform her daughter about the importance of believing in God. The daughter would always end these conversations, without even listening to her mother. Once, she decided to go to a mall and took her younger brother with her to spend some time together. Suddenly, the little child disappeared, and Chloe could find only his clothes lying on the ground. Meanwhile, hundreds of cars without drivers ran right into the mall, and a little plane crashed to the parking lot.

There was another plane ahead of the one that Chloe’s dad was piloting, but an upcoming vehicle was not under control. The plane had the luck to avoid a collision in the air, but their fuel reservoir was damaged. The pilot made a wise decision to return to the airport and to land the plane in New York. Chloe found her mom’s jewelry in the shower cabin and had a conversation with a local pastor who told her that God has taken all his followers with Him to Heaven for His grace. She told the coordinates of a runway to her father, and he had a chance to land the plane. All the passengers were saved, but they had nowhere to go, and some of their relatives were gone.

Unfortunately, the movie “Left Behind” was not preferred by critics and has low ratings. All this negative reaction from the audience was caused only because of a religious topic. Analyzing this fact, it is evident that the majority of American people are not religious and do not support such films and viewpoints (Turner, 2015). A lot of Nicolas Cage’s fans were not satisfied with his role here, as they did not expect their favorite actor to do a Christian movie. Some religious people did not evaluate this film as well because it “somewhat contradicts the Bible”. Nevertheless, this piece of art had its influence on some individuals who realized that they were are on a wrong path and went to the church afterward.

America is a country of prosperity, wealth, and progress, which it would not become without its national religion. Almost every president of the United States was an exemplary believer in order to govern wisely and to show people his devotion to the country. Faith is a fundamental quality for every superb organization, whether it is a family or a whole country. Besides, the official scholar survey showed that children who were born in Christian families, become more successful, and enjoy their lives more than their peers from ordinary families.

Conclusion

As we can see, the older generations in the United States of America are more religious than young people are. Religion becomes less popular day after day. This is one of the hidden messages in the movie “Left Behind”, as we could see that the young lady stood against her mother’s faith and did not have any desire to talk about it. A lot of modern celebrities follow different new religions, which also has its influence on their fans and children (Flake, 2004). According to the movie, all the children were taken away because they had no sins in their lives, and their conscience was pure. The Bible says that all the people should be like children, as they do not have any greed, jealousy, and they are always happy with what they have at the present moment.

It is a well-known fact that most people pray to God only when they need His help in a desperate situation, although, it does not mean that they are true Christians. This is the reason why older generations are more likely to be believers (Fuller, 2013). People understand that they ought to follow God in order to have a blessed life, but a lot of teenagers and youth have not met any challenges yet.

References

Butler, J. (2005). Awash in a sea of faith: Christianizing the American people. New York, NY: ACLS History E-Book Project.

Fadiman, A. (2012). The spirit catches you and you fall down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Flake, K. (2004). The politics of American religious identity. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Fuller, R. C. (2013). The Body of Faith. The Catholic Historical Review,100(3), 638-639.

Turner, B. S. (2015). Sociology of religion in America: A history of a secular fascination with religion. Critical Research on Religion,3(1), 118-120.

Vyhmeister, N. J. (2014). Quality research papers: for students of religion and theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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