Development of the Religious-Secular Divide in America essay

Developmentof the Religious-Secular Divide in America

Religion andSecularity have developed as separate and opposing spheres across theworld often polarizing people. Before the development of consumerism,sexual liberation, pluralism, and mass entertainment, thereligious-secular divide was a non-issue (Davaney 1328). However, thedivide has become so prevalent today and ingrained in the politicaland national values of Americans. During the 1920s, Americaexperienced major changes and developments in culture and values, aswell as, the erosion of civil liberties. It is essential to note thatit is during the 1920s that the Jazz age began, and Americaexperienced innovations in music, consumerism, and sexually liberatedwomen. These aspects created a secular commercial culture, whichdeveloped to a culture schism. As such, a section of the Americanpopulation questioned the new culture, feared the implications of thenew culture such as racial diversity, and diminished moral valuesthus, they conveyed their concern in religious sentiment (Foner 1).The new culture schism especially sexual liberation allowed youngAmericans to move away from organized religion while others viewedthe new culture schism as a collapse of fundamental and moral normsof the society. Those who felt that the moral values were at adecline fueled the rise of religious rights while those who feltliberated by the culture schism aligned to a secular culture thus,the developments of the religious-secular divide.

During the1920s, the rise of sexually liberated women created a new idea offeminism and black feminists insisted on an ERA (Equal RightsAmendments). The feminists wanted the amendment to eliminate alllegal distinctions based on gender (Foner 3) Although the feministsfailed with the ERA campaign, the campaign created sexual freedom,which gave rise to personal rebellion and autonomy. On the otherhand, the political atmosphere changed, progressivism crumbled, andthe foreign policy aligned towards unilateralism. Moreover, Americaemerged as a financial and manufacturing power after the 1stWorld War, which gave it the chance to invade other countries, forexample, Nicaragua to subdue a national rebellion, whenever it feltthreatened (Foner 5). These changes: postwar repression, foreignpolicies, women power, and liberation led people to believe that thegovernment could not embody national purpose or improve liberty.Thus, reformers encouraged democratic and open debate, which allowedthe emergence of civil liberties notions against the government.However, Evangelical Protestants felt that the new notions were apush to diminish moral values hence, they opposed numerous views ofthe progressive concepts, started campaigns to discard modernism, andpromoted prohibition of some aspects such as alcohol consumption.Many Americans saw the campaigns and prohibitions as a violation ofpersonal liberation and freedom, and they began to pressure forchanges and self-consciousness.

Although Americahas made connections across secular and religious lines, the dividestill affects people today. Most importantly is the new level ofdivision that the divide has created especially for the politicaldiscussions (Davaney 1331). Secularism often sees religion as anegative, illogical, violent, and backward-looking aspect whilereligion sees secularism as a revolt against God. It is imperative tonote that the divide continues to create division especially in theway people view values and some aspects of life. People aligned tosecularism often differ on issues with religious people, for example,issues on divorce laws, marriages, military deferment, andliberation. In fact, the divide has transformed marginal policiesinto matters of national importance and principle. It is worth notingthat the divide has exacerbated the tension between religious andsecular people, which has hindered sound policymaking (Davaney 1332).For example, secularists champion of the strict separation of stateand church such as dismissing religious language and imageries inAmerica’s aspects has hindered effective coalition building.Moreover, some secularist thinkers have opined that religion, forexample, Islam emboldens violence and illogicality, which has helpedcreate resentment towards Islam and impedes America’sdeterminations to align with modest Islam followers.


Davaney, Sheila Greeve. &quotThe religious-secular divide: the UScase.&quot&nbspsocial research&nbsp(2009): 1327-1332.Print.

Foner, Eric. Chapter 20: From Business Culture to GreatDepression: The Twenties, 1920–1932, Sample Lecture, 1-12.Print.