democritization of american christianity Essay

Submitted By loganp333
Words: 1426
Pages: 6

Retrospective Essay 3
14 April 2014 Just before the turn of the 19th century, many Americans became unsatisfied with the way religions were being practiced in the United States. Americans started democratic movements to try and change the way religion was being practiced in the United States. These movements later came to be known as the Second Great Awakening. Hatch argues that American Christianity was democratized during the Second Great Awakening. During this time the nation as a whole was being democratized by the people. The main reason immigrants came to America around this time was for the freedom, whether it be for freedom from their Government, social environment, or religion. During this time period, Americans had already begun to democratize their system of government. Americans were changing America in ways the people or the “common man” thought was best for them. In his book Hatch says, “Three times during these years Americans deliberated on fundamental propositions about government. Each time during the Revolution, during the debate over constitution, and during the political passion of the 1790’s the issue of popular participation in government flared up with great intensity. Pressing questions about liberty, authority, and popular sovereignty became deadly business for everyone.”(22). During this time Americans started to believe that they had a right to participate in government, and that each qualified voter should be able to influence the decisions made by their government. Religion came next for Americans, and they would dramatically change the way religion was practiced and viewed in their new country. The main things that Hatch discusses are the importance that society placed on the individual to find faith for themselves at their own will, the association of the common man rather than Elite, and that society had a limitless power once society had discovered the liberating power of Christianity to overthrow the tyrannical structures that were then in place. During this time we see many new churches beginning to be created all over the new America. These new churches had many different ideas than those of earlier times. Some of the more popular churches that emerged at this time were Methodists, Baptists, Mormons, and Unitarians. They changed the way people viewed church and they believed that it was up to the individual to find their faith for themselves. Hatch uses a quote from the Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington that states, “We are persuaded that it is high time for us not only to think, but also to act for ourselves; to see with our own eyes, and to take all our measures directly and immediately from the divine standard… We are also persuaded that as no man can be judged for his brother, so no man can judge for his brother… That every such judgment is an express violation of the law of Christ, a daring usurpation of his throne, and a gross intrusion upon the rights and liberties of his subjects”(162). American churches were beginning to commit to the audience and changing the way religious thinking was organized and carried out. Another quote hatch uses in his argument was “Unless we grant to the many the privileges of thinking for themselves, we must grant to the few, or one, the power of Infallibility.” The common man at this time was persuaded to think for himself. Many of the new Churches were encouraging men to find their own faith at their own will. These churches denounced the division between the laity and the clergy. “They considered people’s common sense more reliable, even in theology, than the judgment of the educated few” (162) At this time, each man had to make his own decision on what he believed was right and which denomination he believed to be best for him. The new churches at this time were helping all people to democratize Christianity in America by allowing them to think for themselves. At this time, Christianity was