The other morning I walked past a very expressive Christian man. He was causing no harm, simply standing happily next to his sign shouting every few moments “JESUS!“. As intended, it got me thinking…. about religion in the USA.
The First Amendment to the country’s Constitution prevents the Federal government from making any “law respecting an establishment of religion”, and guarantees the free exercise of religion.
A majority of Americans report that religion plays a “very important” role in their lives, a proportion unusual among developed nations, although similar to the other nations of the Americas.
76% of adult Americans identify themselves as Christians, with Protestant and Catholic denominations, accounting for 51% and 25% of the population respectively. Approximately 4% – 5% are aligned with Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, or Hinduism. And 15% of the adult population identifies as having no religious belief or affiliation.
Whilst religion isn’t personally displayed nearly as predominantly as i noticed in India (click here to see my posts about religion in India), it is a constant presence with countless churches, synagogues and mosques throughout the city. A search for “Religious Organizations” on NYC.com comes up with 6647 results! Despite this, i’ve noticed that Religion is far less openly talked about than it was when i was in India. It’s seems to be taboo with many appearing to feel slightly uncomfortable if it is brought up (Jewish jokes excluded – they’re quite common). I think this springs out of the intense self-consciousness about being politically correct. Whilst political correctness is no doubt important, it seems to stifle open and inquisitive conversation. For example, wouldn’t there be more religious tolerance if people felt more comfortable about discussing religion, not with the purpose to convert but rather, simply to share? If the facts, benefits and negatives of various religions were equally discussed within an inquisitive framework? Yes i am a young idealist i know and it is simply an observation, but maybe this lack of discussion is a key contributor to underlying tensions and built up intolerance. How can people respect a religion they know nothing about?
Turning my attention back to the other side, we were able to look ALLLL the way down Wall St, and admire the buildings. Much easier to do from a distance as opposed to looking straight up from beneath them!
We passed under the majestic Brooklyn Bridge
before we had to turn back due to some construction works – normally the cruise goes all the way around the island but we were warned when boarding that this wasn’t possible today. So we ventured back towards the setting sun
along a path illuminated by the bright, hypnotic advertisments almost as much as by the streetlamps!