Introduction to Anthropology
Crapo, 2013 defines cultural relativism as “the idea that the significance of an act is best understood by the standards of the across own culture”. This means that you should not ethnocentrically judge a certain cultures beliefs by the standards of your own culture. Religion in our world today and they come in many different forms. Learning about other religions in this class has helped me understand so much about other cultures but at the same time it is very hard to look at other religions from a personal aspect and understand them. That is why it is important to look at other religions from an etic perspective, or an outsiders perspective. No matter what part of the world you look at or what culture you look into, you will find that religion plays an important part of everyday life. You can find religion everywhere and every person, in some form, practices religion. During the course of this paper I will be discussing the importance of religion from an outsiders perspective (or etic perspective) on religion in the United States, and an insiders opinion (or an emic perspective) on religion in Australia.
People are religious for many different reasons. They can believe that religion can help them have a better life after death, or that by praying to a higher power and behaving a certain way that a higher power will relieve certain stresses in their lives or help a sick friend or family member get better. Religion is proven to relieve anxiety and stresses of everyday life (Crapo, 2013). To me, religion is more of a way to act, it teaches you certain morals and what is right and wrong. Whether you are Christian, Catholic, Buddhist or any other religion, they teach you to repeat others lives, to not judge, and to behave in certain ways or you will be punished in some form.
An etic perspective American religion differs from most countries because it’s citizens are free to choose their own religion. American religion can seem strange to many other culture around the world because inside of this one country there are so many different cultures and religions. In America religion can be very diverse and there are numerous different religions. There are many different religious beliefs and practices in America and people are free to choose which one they want to believe in or even if they want to believe in anything at all.
The United States claims to be the first country that granted its citizens the freedom to choose their own religion due to the fact of the first amendment which states that the government is not allowed to establish any one religion nor prohibit any one religion. This is the reason that many people flee from their country to come to America.
A majority of the American population identify themselves as Christian. Other popular religions in America are protestant, Roman Catholic, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. One of the other most popular “religion” besides Christianity or Roman Catholics is atheism. Atheism is more of a decision to not believe or practice any religion.
In America there are many different religions in each community. Hey all interact with each other usually with no problems but eventually you will run into racism or ethnocentricity against certain cultures or religions. That is one of the problems of having so many religions in one country. It is great that people are free to practice what they believe is best for them but it does cause problems within communities because each religion thinks that they are the “right” religion and that the other religions practices are immorality or dangerous.
One other sue that the United States is having with religion is that the numbers of religions are forever changing. Some religions grow rapidly while others pretty much disappear.