Freedom of Religion in the US is Individualistic

Denis Lacorne wrote in his book that Samuel P Huntington claims that the US is a deeply religious country, defined by an American Creed, and that the US is neither secular nor a religious theocracy. It was actually Gunnar Myrdal who in 1944 defined the American Creed. After reading Huntington’s Who Are We? from 2004, I’m convinced that Huntington’s idea is more correct. He says that the new US was already forming as John Locke was born 1632 thus staying with Tocqueville on this one. American exceptionalism, he says, is not to a little part due to its religiousness. What also makes the US unique and the most religious protestant country is that many sects were allowed to form and thus made possible a more individualist religious life. What Lacorne also forgot to say was that the Catholicism in the US is very protestantized which makes it less authoritarian.

However, if you ask Americans what about the US they are most proud of 85% say the political system. This should be compared with 7% for Germans. It therefore seems like the Americans are united under an American Creed, a political idea, at the same time as they have religion for community and support. In 2002 a court in San Francisco decided by a 2 to 1 vote that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were a violation of the separation of church and state. The words therefore were unconstitutional. However, this became highly controversial and the Senate passed a resolution 99 to 0 that the decision be reversed. A Newsweek poll claimed 87% of the public supported inclusion of the words while 9% opposed. Atheists are less popular than Muslims in the US.

President Clinton claimed that America needed a third “Great Revolution”, in addition to the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Revolution, where they “prove that we literally can live without having a dominant European culture”. Huntington means that this multiculturalism would threaten American Identity. He sketches four development possibilities: multiculturalism; bifurcated into Latin and English; exclusivist with revival of racial and ethnic concepts: and a preferred cultural path where Americans stick to their Creed. In light of the dismissal of multiculturalism in Europe this is interesting. Currently “ever closer union” is what seems most popular to save the Union in what could be described as a desperate attempt to find a European Creed.

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