The United States of America: once a small colony, now one of the world’s most powerful nations; a nation that has been fraught with wars, protests and continuous conflicts between religion and state. This essay will investigate the relationship between the religion and state, discuss the states declaration’s about this relationship and the practice of these declarations. Americans, after the September 11 attacks, have marginalised the Muslim community, which is largely due to their Christian origins and misinterpretations of Islam.
Christianity has been in America since the Colonial Era (1600’s - 1700’s), and for over three centuries has dominated and deeply engrained itself into American Society . Islam, however, has only been introduced recently, and this has caused Islamic Believers (or Muslims) residing in America to be misinterpreted. After the September 11 bombings in 2001, there was a huge hatred for Muslims as they were interpreted as a religion that promotes destruction in the name of ‘Jihad’, or as it is often mistranslated as ‘Holy war’ . Although, the meaning of ‘Jihad’ is much wider than just ‘Holy war’, it is an internal struggle, within each Muslim, “…to be a good Muslim as well as advance the cause of Islam.” The Western understanding of ‘jihad’ however has been twisted to become related to terrorism. Whereas, Christians claim to promote the qualities of hard-work, honesty and moderation, and are therefore highly thought of in American Society, not only because of their supposed all encompassing teachings, but also because of their dominance as a religion in the Western World.
In 2000, Christians made up the majority of the population in America. Shown by the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), in which fifty thousand Americans were surveyed. In this survey, 76.5% identified themselves as Christian, which is an estimated 159,000,000 people in America. While only 0.5% identified themselves as Muslims, which equates to an estimated 1,100,000 people . This survey shows that Christians make up the majority of the population, and therefore, have undistinguished control over the Government through the voting system. The Government is then seen as a nation-state, as Christianity does not control the government but does hold a significant influence within it. This means that for the Government to effectively control the country, the vote of the Christian population is crucial. In contrast, Muslims represent the minority and therefore, are seen as the ‘less important’ vote. This then sparks conflict with the Government concerning Religious freedom.
“Conflicts continually arise between individuals and the Government over religious freedom”. This has caused groups such as ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ and ‘The American Civil Liberties Union’ to join and create a ‘Coalition for the free exercise of Religion.’ This resulted in the passing of the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ (RFRA) by the...