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While some scholars see the United States becoming increasingly secular, others observe a rise in fundamentalism. Compared to other democratic, industrialized countries, the United States is generally perceived to be a fairly religious nation. Whereas 65 percent of U.S. adults in a 2009 Gallup survey said religion was an important part of their daily lives, the numbers were lower in Spain (49 percent), Canada (42 percent), France (30 percent), the United Kingdom (27 percent), and Sweden (17 percent) (Crabtree and Pelham 2009). Secularization interests social observers because it entails a pattern of change in a fundamental social institution.

Thank god for that touchdown: separation of church and state

Imagine three public universities with football games scheduled on Saturday. At University A, a group of students in the stands who share the same faith decide to form a circle amid the spectators to pray for the team. For fifteen minutes, people in the circle share their prayers aloud among their group. At University B, the team ahead at halftime decides to join together in prayer, giving thanks and seeking support from God. This lasts for the first ten minutes of halftime on the sidelines of the field while spectators watch. At University C, the game program includes, among its opening moments, two minutes set aside for the team captain to share a prayer of his choosing with the spectators.

In the tricky area of separation of church and state, which of these actions is allowed and which is forbidden? In our three fictional scenarios, the last example is against the law while the first two situations are perfectly acceptable.

In the United States, a nation founded on the principles of religious freedom (many settlers were escaping religious persecution in Europe), how stringently do we adhere to this ideal? How well do we respect people’s right to practice any belief system of their choosing? The answer just might depend on what religion you practice.

In 2003, for example, a lawsuit escalated in Alabama regarding a monument to the Ten Commandments in a public building. In response, a poll was conducted by USA Today , CNN, and Gallup. Among the findings: 70 percent of people approved of a Christian Ten Commandments monument in public, while only 33 percent approved of a monument to the Islamic Qur’an in the same space. Similarly, survey respondents showed a 64 percent approval of social programs run by Christian organizations, but only 41 percent approved of the same programs run by Muslim groups (Newport 2003).

These statistics suggest that, for most people in the United States, freedom of religion is less important than the religion under discussion. And this is precisely the point made by those who argue for separation of church and state. According to their contention, any state-sanctioned recognition of religion suggests endorsement of one belief system at the expense of all others—contradictory to the idea of freedom of religion.

So what violates separation of church and state and what is acceptable? Myriad lawsuits continue to test the answer. In the case of the three fictional examples above, the issue of spontaneity is key, as is the existence (or lack thereof) of planning on the part of event organizers.

The next time you’re at a state event—political, public school, community—and the topic of religion comes up, consider where it falls in this debate.

Summary

Liberation theology combines Christian principles with political activism to address social injustice, discrimination, and poverty. Megachurches are those with a membership of more than 2,000 regular attendees, and they are a vibrant, growing and highly influential segment of U.S. religious life. Some sociologists believe levels of religiosity in the United States are declining (called secularization), while others observe a rise in fundamentalism.

Short answer

Do you believe the United States is becoming more secularized or more fundamentalist? Comparing your generation to that of your parents or grandparents, what differences do you see in the relationship between religion and society? What would popular media have you believe is the state of religion in the United States today?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Further research

What is a megachurch and how are they changing the face of religion? Read “Exploring the Megachurch Phenomena: Their Characteristics and Cultural Context” at (External Link) .

Curious about the LGBT religious movement? Visit the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) web sites for current news about the growing inclusion of LGBT citizens into their respective religious communities, both in the pews and from the pulpit: (External Link) and (External Link) .

How do Christians feel about gay marriage? How many Mormons are there in the United States? Check out (External Link) , the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a research institute examining U.S. religious trends.

References

Barrick, Audrey. 2011. “Church Trial Set for Lesbian Methodist Minister.” Christian Post , Feb 15. Retrieved January 22, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Beck, Edward L. 2010. “Are Gay Priests the Problem?” ABC News/ Good Morning America , April 15. Retrieved January 22, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Bird, Warren, and Scott Thumma. 2011. “A New Decade of Megachurches: 2011 Profile of Large Attendance Churches in the United States.” Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Bogan, Jesse. 2009. “America’s Biggest Megachurches.” Forbes.com , June 26. Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Crabtree, Steve, and Brett Pelham. 2009. “What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common.” Gallup World , February 9. Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Hartford Institute for Religion Research a. “Database of Megachurches in the US . ” Retrieved February 21, 2012   ( (External Link) ).

Hartford Institute for Religion Research b. “Megachurch Definition.” Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

McKenna, Josephine. 2014. "Catholic Bishops Narrowly Reject a Wider Welcome to Gays, Divorced Catholics." Religion News Service . Retrieved Oct. 27, 2014 ( (External Link) ).

Newport, Frank. 2003. “Americans Approve of Displays of Religious Symbols.” Gallup , October 3. Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Pew Research Forum. 2011. “The Future of the Global Muslim Population.” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, January 27. Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Ward, Jon. 2011. “Michele Bachman Says Hurricane and Earthquake Are Divine Warnings to Washington.” Huffington Post , August 29. Retrieved February 21, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Questions & Answers

how many types of concepts
Ritu Reply
who is the founder of sociology
Yasir Reply
why we study sociology?
Chu Reply
there is a lot of reason that's why we study sociology ... there is no one specific reason I think it's enough to know why youstudy .. I think your question is subjective .
Ritu
I believe that there is no need to tell a sociology student that why do we have to study sociology .. try to understand my point of view look .. if i give you answer of your question that will be subjective .. if you want a general reason so you can read a in books ..
Ritu
l lMillions of books are full of it ..with due respect I am suggesting you to find reason to yourself .. it will give you a better answer than us ..
Ritu
I have thousands of answers to your question but I believe If you try to know by yourself, it will be helpful to know about why we study sociology ..Sociology is not such a subject that we have told something about it and everything has become clear .. No it is not .. Sociology is very different
Ritu
you have to realize ..in short your is easy but no easy as it looks I can give you ans .but if you find by yourself So by doing this you will not forget that life time
Ritu
as we know Some questions look as objective as the outside, and they are absolutely subjective from the inside. I am telling you this in such a detail so that you can do the study yourself.I hope you understand and have not misinterpreted my words
Ritu
what is law of trade
Ritu Reply
exchange of value
Sourabh
please could you explain it
Ritu
seller has value for money and buyer has a value for the product he wants hence the basic law of trade is exchange of value now the value accorded to an object can be subjective, but in modern capitalist society, the social and economical institutions have a monopoly of defining value
Sourabh
ok ok
Ritu
what is difference between factor and cause
Ritu Reply
cause is responsible for initiating a phenomena while factor is just one aspect of it. eg: If you want to find the cause of any phenomena, you will find it at the end of your research. But factors will be found during the process of determining the cause and can aid in it.
Sourabh
hmmm good job .and good observation
Ritu
what are the types of sociology
Jerry Reply
There are Two types of sociology. Namely 1) Qualitative sociology 2) Quantitative Sociology.
Syed
But there are sociological trends and theories which came into light over the period of time
Ashish
types can be classified on basis of methodology (qualitative, quantitative, interpretative) on basis of subject matter (sociology of crime, law etc) on basis of perspectives (conflict, structural-functionalist) also historical classification like modernism, post modernism etc.
Sourabh
Hey
Muhammad
every one hear
Muhammad
They are two types of sociology; 1, Basic (pure) sociology and 2,Apply sociology.
Mohamed
p lease if all of you don't mind .. could share your nationalities... may this helpfull in understanding about our culture ..
Ritu Reply
..
Ritu
Indian
Sourabh
may this platform can give us cultural and other relevant knowledge about our societies if we share
Ritu
may this platform can give usefull and relevant knowledge about our socities and cutures
Ritu
what is an approaches bro
Muhammad
what?
Ritu
Nigerian
Amoo
well done 👍 share guys
Ritu
don't worry there is no harm to share about nationalities
Ritu
Indian
SHIVAM
thanks 😊
Ritu
for sharing nationality
Ritu
😁
Amoo
oops I did not even tell about myself .I am fully indian
Ritu
Is that all?
Ritu
the different kind of term for collective behavior is a. groip with same thinking
LISA Reply
plz answer,The grades in various subjects of a student are given below .Testat 5%level of significance that there is sognificant difference ib grades.Mathematics= 72,80,83,75.Statistics=81,74,77,88.English=82,90,87,80.Research=74,71,77,70.
Asma
"same thinking" seems a bit too structured for collective behaviour which is spontaneous and unstructured.
Sourabh
crowd,social moments,moral panic,riots ,disaster,mobs,riots,mass hysteria ,fads and crazes are some kind of collective behaviour
Ritu
one example of collective behaviour like we sing national anthem
Ritu
Ritu verma you are right
Amoo
could all of you share about in which nationality you belong
Ritu Reply
please don't take it other way I am asking bcz it will be good for all to know about nationality since we connected due to this group ... And how many countries have this app spread, how many countries have people connected
Ritu
India
Himanshu
ok
Ritu
Where can find the exam past paper and exercises of sociology?
Sammi Reply
you may search in you tube ... there are some question papers available ..
Ritu
in the city of Pakistan
Abid
🙄🙄
Abid
😥😥😥
Abid
is there. no you tube
Ritu
pls what's today's discussion all about?
Ojewande Reply
every one can start any relevant topic on sociology... bcz every question is imp about society
Ritu
explain the term subculture
Peter
identify and explain four types of subculture in the school
Peter
explain why the status of the teacher is important in schools
Peter
explain the meaning of social stratification
Peter
a subculture is just what is sound like a smaller culture group within a larger culture; people of a subculture are a part of the larger culture but also share a specific identity with in a small group
Ritu
thousands of subculture exits within united state ethnic and racial share language,food and costume of Thier heritage
Ritu
social stratification means .. Differentiation of posts is the main belief of social stratification. Social norms are taught through social stratification.
Ritu
In social stratification, the relationship with different situations becomes part of the social system. In a stratified society, inequality is found in people.According to which some people are considered higher or lower than others
Ritu
respected sir u r asking about why a status of teacher is imp I'm schools.. sir Without a teacher, there cannot be a school. Even a society cannot imagine ... Ancient Time Selekar has changed the nature of the teacher so far. Values ​​did not decrease ..
Ritu
teachers are very important for make a future of students .. everyone comes in this world with some special power ... but He is a teacher who makes a student release his internal power ..
Ritu
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has told in one of his autobiography 'The Power of Prayer' that .." we came with a Divine Fire in Us."That Divine Fire cannot be achieved without teacher's help.
Ritu
what's is difference between premonition and foreknowledge
Ritu Reply
hello
suraj
g
Aimal
?
Ritu
difference between prescience and premonition is that prescience is knowledge of events before they take place; foresight; foreknowledge while premonition is a clairvoyant or clairaudient experience, such as a dream, which resonates with so
Aimal
hi
APARNA
in short foreknowledge is the knowledge of something before it's happened .and premonition a knowledgeof something is going to happen specially unpleasant
Ritu
..
Ritu
Hey bro
Muhammad
Who is the father of modern sociology
Shah Reply
who is the fat60f modern sociology
Shah Reply
Who is the father of sociology
Shah
august compte is called a father of sociology
Ritu
what can one become after studying sociology in Nigeria
Chisom Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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