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The Gospel of Cesar Chavez and the American Religious Experience Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 29th, 2020

The Gospel of Cesar Chavez: my faith in action is a vivid account of the actions of a prolific leader whose leadership abilities were firmly rooted in faith (Garcia and Espinosa 106). The book shows a striking similarity between a persons’ will to fight for a cause he believed was just and the great religious movements that preached equality for all people irrespective of their color or origin. This book is, therefore, an account of the leaders’ own words that expresses his deep faith and how his faith was able to shape his leadership. The author was a teacher of morality. He was a man who had a firm faith and who inspired many people who came across him. Mario T. Garcia starts his book by providing a profile of the events of the life of Cesar Chavez and the legacy that he left. This book gives readers a reflection of this great man that inspires a reader to reflect on, based on the topics covered, in their spiritual life.

When Chavez was asked how he was able to continue organizing and bringing together U.S. farm worker for so many years in a fervent struggle for change, his response was that faith kept him going. He categorically stated that neither economic fundamentals or political doctrine and culture could help him sustain such a fight. Faith is what drives the American Dream (Garcia and Espinosa 285).

People from across the world want to seek an opportunity to realize their dreams within the American society. During the time of Chavez, the United Firm Workers was keen on restricting immigration. According to Garcia (60), the influx of the immigrant to America brought about a revival in the American religious lifestyle. They brought about a vibrant culture of prayer to American that was almost dying among the protestant groups.

The Bracero program provided access to cheap and constant immigrant labor for the growers. Even at a time when many people are crossing the Mexican border towards the United States, one cannot help but to see faith in action. The greatest challenge in America, when faced by such immigration crisis is to draft lasting reforms. However, as Chavez himself notes, lasting reform must be based on living and active faith as well as a vibrant spiritual lifestyle. The author provides a clear link between Chavez advocacy and the American religious experience. Religious freedom puts humanity first (Garcia and Espinosa 107).

The American society is built in the belief in God as the Governor of the universe. Any attempt to suppress the right to organize, preach, or peacefully engage society based on the belief in God is an attack on the human dignity. The men who gave birth to the American system had some weaknesses which entrenched some flaws such as brutal slavery, exploitation of others, greed and religious bigotry. However, the American religious experience has bequeathed the American society the logic of respect for diversity and has proven itself capable of self-criticism, change, and reform.

Several tenets are necessary in shaping a person’s character. These include theology, virtue, and political views as presented by Chavez. These can have a great impact on the life of a person. Chavez himself was influenced by the teachings of Father Donald McDonnell, the works of St. Francis of Assisi and knowledge of Mahatma Gandhi of India (Comford 379). It is from these men that Chavez learned the virtue of using non-violent means to advocate for the rights of the people. He also learned much on the value of laying ones life for the sake of others.

The American religious experience is not a private affair. Religion is essential to the virtues that are necessary for a free people. Any religious group or congregation ought to make a significant contribution to the American social fabric. The American founding fathers, irrespective of their divergent opinions agreed that, people who are free, could not indeed be free without religious faith as well as virtues that nourish that freedom.

The founders of the American nation had deep convictions about religion and they crossed the Atlantic Ocean to go to a country where they could exercise their faith without being disturbed. Although their zeal seemed to fade with time, nonetheless, their convictions were raised by the arrival of immigrant during the eighteenth century (Garcia 86). The new immigrants brought religious revival that fueled the revival of the American religious zeal. The end-result was a rise in rebellion against the British authorities. Most Americans started to share the belief that religion was indispensable in marinating public institutions. The ability to define the role of religion in the public domain was consistent with revolutionary quest for equality and freedom for all Americans.

Religion played a critical role in the American Revolution by providing a moral justification to oppose the British rule. It was believed that revolution was justified in the sight of God. At this time, religious leaders turned colonial resistance into a good cause by crying the message of freedom to all people within the British colony. Chavez escapades were clearly based on faith in the word of God as these revolutionaries also felt the same in the eyes of God (Garcia 24). The same faith was also inherent in state government as many states were explicit in the need for growing religion just as the Congress held thanksgiving and fast day proclamations. Chavez himself was noted for his many fasts (Pawel, 41). The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 emphasized that the happiness of people was built on faithfulness, faith, and moral inclinations

In his quest for justice for immigrants, the author explains how Chavez organized the people to undertake strikes and boycotts (Garcia and Espinosa 109). One of his well-organized strikes, the Grape Boycott, lasted for two years and it explained the moral approach of Chavez (Pawel 48).

This is akin to Martin King’s critical approach to those religious groups that historically used the Bible and religion as a tool for advancing slavery and social segregation. The American religious experienced is based on the notion that religion should be used as a tool to demonstrate the significance of actions and beliefs that create an equal culture that is able to sustain world civilization. If the actions of one person were harmful to others, then it would be impossible to talk about social or economic emancipation. The faith of Chavez led him to fight for social injustices. He led a successful fight for the recognition of the rights, equality, and fair treatment of workers (Garcia 6). This akin to what great mind in the American history, through their religious beliefs tried to achieve.

In conclusion, the fight for equality ad social justice is what Chavez’ faith led him to advocate and keep on going in spite of the challenges he faced. The American society is greatly rooted in religion as evidenced from the convictions of the founding fathers. In opposing the British rule, the American revolutionaries used religious beliefs of equality and just treatment of one another. God, to them, was against inhuman treatment of fellow men. As can be gleaned from this book, Chavez was moved by faith in God and his works to fight for equality of the workers in they eyes of their masters.

Works Cited

Comford, A. Daniel. Working People of California. London: University of California Press, 1995. Web.

Garcia, T. Mario and Espinosa, Gaston. Mexican American Religions: spirituality, activism, and culture. New York: Duke University Press, 2008. Web.

Garcia, T. Mario. The Gospel of Cesar Chavez: my faith in action. New York: Sheed & Ward, 2007. Web.

Pawel, Miriam. The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement. New York: Bloomsburry Press, 2010. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Gospel of Cesar Chavez and the American Religious Experience." May 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-gospel-of-cesar-chavez-and-the-american-religious-experience/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Gospel of Cesar Chavez and the American Religious Experience'. 29 May.

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