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Religious Commercialism and Secularism in America Essay

Introduction: The Marketing Culture of American Christianity & Secularism

The study analyzes the concept of religion and secularism in the context of materialistic benefits. Mainly, the sources of religious commercialism in America are estimated. Thus, the work emphasizes the significance of Easter parades and the movements of church decoration, in the initiation of stable marketing strategies, which affect both the national economy and the well-being of separate retailers.

Secondly, the overview of the elements, which differentiate traditions within religion and secularism, is made. In other words, the work presents an attempt to outline the limits of religious and non-religious patterns, which exist in American society and affect commercial progress. Finally, the work analyzes the general social, which is evoked by religious commercialization, in the USA, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of church-related retailing.

The Sources of Religious & Secular Marketing

Celebration as the Means of National Reuniting

The traditions of celebrating religious holidays, in America, were shaped by long centuries of struggles and misunderstandings. Until the 17th century, there were no common Christmas festivities, and the celebrations were rather sporadic and multi-traditional. In the 17th century, the USA appeared in the middle of a strong Puritan impact, according to which religious celebrations were strictly forbidden. At this time, any type of communal festivities was banned, and the citizens were forced to work on Christmas and Easter.

Thus, the primary transition to Christmas and Easter as national holidays appeared only in the 18th century after the collapse of the Puritan regime. At this time, the new colonists, who were inspired by the American attachment to religious celebrations, started bringing into the USA such traditions as Christmas tree decoration, caroling, and exchanging gifts. Accordingly, by the end of the 19th century, Christmas and Easter became two critical moments in the lives of Americans. As a result, the retailers and separate businesses started the promotion of multiple fest attributes, which turned into extensive religious commercialization.

Looking Luxurious as the Secular Pattern

The commercial side of church traditions relates to the incorporation of religious figures into ordinary life. Thus, the celebration of multiple Christian holidays, in America, is combined with a set of secular customs such as organizing Christmas markets, initiating Easter and New Year parties, launching church-related media projects, etc. One of the ideal representations of making religious holidays a part of marketing positioning is the musical Easter Parade (Butler & Stout, 1997).

In this work, Irving Berlin reveals the environment of shopping, in the context of pre-Eastern fuss. The characters of the musical, which encourage the customers to buy bonnets because they are perfect for wearing, at the time of celebration, embody the symbolism of religious commercialization. In fact, the absurdity of the scenes proves that the correlation between secular and religious traditions, in fact, started separating people and church values by turning spiritual customs into the monetary experience.

One could even claim that the distorted picture of Easter marketing violates the leading Bible principles since, according to Christian persuasions, excessive attachment to materialism is a sin. Conclusively, the parody on Easter commercialization shows that linking religion to business is a purely secular construction, which invalidates the basis of church persuasions.

A substantial part of American winter marketing relates to Christmas traditions. The experts claim that exchanging presents has gradually become the core of the Christmas holidays. Indeed, the world of markets and shopping centers turns into an over-crowded area in pre-Christmas days. Americans agree that a consistent part of customers, who spend huge sums on money on Christmas presents, do not relate to the holiday itself as to the occasion to celebrate Christ’s birthday since they do not identify themselves with the world of religion.

Consequently, the miracle of Christmas gradually turns into the reason for getting together with close people and sharing presents. A similar tendency refers to the custom of organizing celebrations at workplaces, corporations, as well as enriching the media world with the products that relate to the Christmas holidays.

As it follows, the absurdity of the analyzed pattern stems from the fact that a lot of non-religious people started benefiting from church holidays since their popularity offers new flows of commercialization ideas. For instance, in the last years, a separate domain of the so-called “holiday fashion” evolved. The movement extended from the old persuasion, according to which our ancestors used to meet every Easter, in church, wearing new clothes.

The modern Americans, notwithstanding their evident separation from the church, still keep the tradition of buying new Easter attire. The tendency offers the new source of money to retailers, who, subsequently, create the culture of Christmas and Easter sales with the aim of gaining financial profit from the distorted custom. Still, neither the buyers nor the sellers bind the tradition with their religious persuasions.

Fancy Decorations in Church Environment: Tradition or Business Trend?

The second source of religious commercialization extends from the festivity of Gothic church styling, which gave birth to such prominent centers of religion as Trinity Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The luxury of church facades stimulated the development of decoration tradition inside the religious institutions as well. In today’s America, special emphasis is given to religious decoration at the time of Christmas and Easter.

The business of festive styling was developed according to the simple mechanism: the retailers overtook the primary symbols of religious celebrations and turned into the boosting selling objects. Specifically, the elements of willow trees were bounded to Easter as the sign of Christ’s salutation. As a result, decorating rooms, workplaces, and even the streets with willow brunches, in combination with flowers and bands, became the critical element of Easter celebrations in the USA and the other countries.

Since church regards Christ’s resurrection as the happiest moment, in a Christian calendar, the centers of religion are likely to encourage the visitors to bring flowers into cathedrals as the sign of congratulating churches with this sacred event. The pattern, in fact, can also be regarded as a commercialization issue, for it is a subject of financial profit for floristic retailers. The concept of decorating is peculiar for the Christmas celebration as well.

Mainly, one can view Christmas trees, garlands, and fancy candles in every cathedral, in the period of winter festivities. The support of marketing strategies, which embrace religious holidays, in fact, stems from the development of competitiveness in cathedral styling. Thus, it is claimed that different churches, which concern the same confessions, are interested in attracting visitors. That is why the church figures often speculate with decoration strategies trying to make churches as luxurious as possible, in order to supersede their “rivals.” The tradition became so deeply-rooted into American reality that it gave birth to a figural language expression “cathedral effect.” In this way, modern Americans call every fancy decoration since church styling became officially related to excessive luxury.

The Effects of Church Commercialization on Religious and Secular Society

Leaving Church: Marketing Crisis vs. Manipulation of Faith

The tendencies of religious commercialization have diverse impacts on different target groups of Americans. If one analyzes the ways in which religious marketing influences Christians, in the USA, one can note a gradual decadence of church visits, with the growth of monetary traditions that are attached to that. In this context, two major groups of citizens are distinguished. The first target group embraces believers, who, in fact, can not afford to provide support to holiday commercialization, which, gradually, provokes their disapproval of church laws and discourages them from visiting religious centers. Concerning the second congregation, it relates to the citizens, who perceive church commercialization as the pretence for religion rebuttal.

The devoted Christians, who are well-acquainted with Bible scripts, in general, have a common opinion about religious monetarism, which stems from the gospel about the encounter of Lord with a rich man. According to it, the man, who was looking for God’s mercy, posed a question to Christ, in which he wondered if there is anything he could do with his money so that to please God. The Christ answered that God never requires money but it can be desperately needed by some people, who can not afford food. That is why, God gave the man the advice to sell his property and sacrifice it for beggars (Johnson, 2011).

Therefore, if one analyzes the tradition of spending money on church décor and holiday outfits, it, evidently, contradicts the Bible. Consequently, when Bible-readers come to church and are said that they have to bring in donations for Easter decorations, they start questioning church laws and, in most cases, abandon religious traditions, notwithstanding their faith in God remains unbreakable.

The second target group involves people, who feel comfortable with church commercialization since the recent attachment of American churches to monetary side of life seems to appear as the justification for dropping religion as the concept. The citizens from this group are, mostly, individuals, who embrace hateful attitude to any revelations of church life and expose church servers as bribers.

Approval of Commercialization among Americans

One can distinguish a group of Americans, who provide consistent support to commercialization trends and perceive such holidays as Christmas and Easter as the means of sustaining the so-called “celebration” type of social interaction. Thus, the organization of holiday festivities, decorations, and showing off with the newly-purchased attire, usually, applies to the interests of wealthy social class. However, the deep appreciation of traditions does not always relate to religion.

According to the interrogation of Americans, only 34 % of citizens, who approve holiday commercialization, believe in God or attend church (Leone, 2011). In fact, the existence of all target categories of individuals, who embrace either skepticism or delight about religion commercialization, contributes to the decadence of church reality, in America. Thus, eventually, both groups come to the conclusion that turning religious holidays into the sources of financial benefits detaches people from church.

According to the diversity of opinions on the correlation between holidays and church, Americans started protests on the so-called multicultural sensitivity. In this way, the concept of “war on Christmas” appeared. Due to this idea, the citizens stand for the identification of Christmas as a national holiday, which is dissociated with religion. The tendency appeared when pupils and students, in the USA, were bound to take part in Christmas ceremonies.

In other words, the acknowledgment of traditional Christmas tree decoration, lights installation, and gifts’ exchange remains stable but the shift in the justification of celebration grounds is required. In the 19th century, it was offered to change the name “Christmas” for the neutral work “Holiday.” Despite the attempt on title exchange was not successful, the controversy is still gaining prominence, in American society.

Religious Populism: The Impacts of Commercialization on Businesses

The growth of holiday commercialization, undeniably, stemmed from the extension of media advertizing. Thus, in the 19th century, mass celebrating commercialization campaign was launched. Since the influence of Puritan movements was totally liquidated, in America, the holidays were extensively popularized in newspapers, diaries, and trade journals, particularly, in the pre-holiday periods. The strategic advertising embraced a consumer-oriented form.

As a result, some of the holidays became fully desacradized. For instance, the Valentine’s Day, which, originally, related to honoring one of the church saints, who gave birth to marriage, was deprived of religious character and became a secular holiday, in America. Consequently, Valentine’s Day became the first instance of creating a holiday brand, which was sustained through distributing Valentine cards with greetings verses.

America Profile: Being Commercialized or Looking for Commercialization?

The second critical implication of religion commercialization embraces the stimulation of competitive spirit. The experts often claim that over-commercialization of holidays has never been forcefully imposed on America since its culture was, initially, susceptible to such changes. Indeed, the USA is correlated with the citizens, who have a competitive spirit in their heart. Thus, no matter whether it concerns human genome race, technological innovation or space race, America has always strived to be the first in everything. Conclusively, when religious holidays became the subject for marketing, both common citizens and big businesses started a global holiday race.

Mainly, the neighbors started competing with each other for the most luxurious decoration of houses and windows; the retailers initiated a race for the fanciest products, the designers, and small businesses began looking for ideas of the creative Christmas and Thanksgiving presents (Leone, 2011). Thus, it may be concluded that commercialization embraced America because the country was eager to accept this commercialization since it complied with its culture.

The Meaning of Theological Commercialization for American Economy

The tendency of spiritual commercialization appeared in the sphere of global economy with the spreading of the so-called “capitalism logic.” The tendency formulated a type of world markets, which are driven by profit orientation. As a result, commodification has gradually acquired expressional means, in all spheres of human activity, including church-related domains. From capitalism, the American market started transforming in commercialism-consumerism, which gave birth to the extensive modification of spirituality.

If one analyzes the effects of the mentioned trends on the life level in the USA, one may notice a stable increase in American economy since the all-embracing commercialization was established. Indeed, the growth of state economy is directly dependent on the production of goods and consumption of these goods.

In fact, any type of commercial material, which may become good-selling production, is the subject for economic enrichment. In America, the realization of commercialization strategies has optimal perspectives, due to the fact that the citizens are highly perceptive to materialism. The national survey proves that material values gain the center of attention, in Americans. Mainly, each one in 14 citizens of the USA is eager to commit a murder for a huge sum of money while 65 % of Americans would spend one year in a desert, with the same purpose (Bernice, 2001). Conclusively, turning religion into materialism contributes to the general growth of American economy.

The Influences of Religious Commercialization in American Media

The extensive commercialization of religion relates not only to the attributes of church holidays and decorations but to the popularization of religious tendencies, in general. In America, popularization is sustained through the fact that multiple newspapers, journals, and television programs target islamophobia and other religion-related issues. The patterns of terrorism, which evolve in the history of America, give birth to religious hostilities, fear, and hatred to Muslims.

Indeed, the topic of Islamisms is one of the hottest themes of social discussions, in America. The area of concern received special emphasis in 2001 when the ill-famed terroristic attack 11/9 was committed. Accordingly, the popularization of islamophobia-related issues became a successful subject for American media. As a result, a number of commercialized publicist editions appeared. Despite the editions bring consistent monetary profits, the issue has explosive effects.

The condemnation of Muslim world evokes intra-social tensions and oppositions within American community, which results in the stimulation of sporadic terrorism attacks. A bright example of such disruptive commercialization is the Charlie Hebdo shooting, which targeted a highly-sarcastic newspaper and led to the explosion of the publishing house, in Paris. In this way, one may conclude that the exploitation of religious conceptions with the aim of gaining monetary benefits may be dangerous for the American society, which is one of the most culturally-diverse world communities.

Conclusion: Summing Up the Implications of Commercialization

The study relies on the analysis of religious commercialization, in America, on the basis of exploiting such examples as holiday decorations, sarcastic media strategies, and the creation of a fashion movement that relates to Christian festivities. In detail, the paper explores the idea that acquiring holiday attributes became a strongly-rooted tradition, in the U.S. community. The pattern embraces the luxury of Easter and Christmas festivities, both in churches and at homes.

According to the analysis, the primary implication of the tendency refers to the support of the American spirit of competitiveness. Secondly, the idea of commercialization has diverse effects on different target groups of consumers but, in a sum, it contributes to the detachment of citizens from church centers. The issue outlines the problem of faith crisis. Thirdly, the study dwells on the implications of commercialization, in the context of economy effects.

In detail, the work concludes that the perceptiveness of Americans to materialism provides a strong support for the spreading of commercialism, in the country. Finally, the study takes into account the issue of media commercialism, which extended from the idea of islamophobia and bias as well as discovers the dangers of religious commercialization. To sum it up, religious marketing, in America, is a prerequisite of a multi-level social change, which relates to both country profile and individuality implications.


Bernice, K. (2001). Are you normal about money? New Jersey: Bloomberg Press.

Butler, J., & Stout, H. (1997). Religion in American history: A reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, G. (2011). The restoration of Christmas. The Living Church, 21(1), 13-18.

Leone, M. (2011). The commercialization of Christmas in American society. The Living Church, 34(2), 23-32.

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1. IvyPanda. "Religious Commercialism and Secularism in America." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-commercialism-and-secularism-in-america/.


IvyPanda. "Religious Commercialism and Secularism in America." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-commercialism-and-secularism-in-america/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Religious Commercialism and Secularism in America." September 9, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-commercialism-and-secularism-in-america/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Religious Commercialism and Secularism in America'. 9 September.

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