Essay Pluralism in Religion

Submitted By alehaann
Words: 1335
Pages: 6

Aleha Havlinek
30 April 2013
HST 210
Pluralism, Syncretism and Black Robe In the United States different religions came from all directions and in many different forms. The ways in which each religion manifested itself once coming to the United States, however, varies greatly. We can identify conversions, religious conquests, syncretism, creative adaptations, and assimilations across the board in terms of religions in the New World. It is through these five methods that the history of our current religions can be traced and analyzed in their founding stages in the United States. Historians talk about Deism today because of its implications on our country’s founding fathers beliefs and the Declaration of Independence. Deists believed that there was a God or Creator, but that his role was to watch and not intervene, not have relationship with humans, that the bible contains only untrue stories that capture wise things from wise people and that Jesus was simply a good moral teacher. The Deists beliefs came from Thomas Paine’s travels through Europe. They eventually became a common belief amongst those who attended university. This is widely due to the fact that Deism is a religion that at the time was only taught in university education or was common amongst economic or political elite, and therefore those who were Deists were said to be part of the elite system of thought. For this aspect alone, I would consider this to be a form of conversion. It is impressed upon students that what they learn at university is absolutely true. Therefore since Deism was something that was supported and taught in the university higher education system, it acted as a form of conversion for those who were economically or politically elite and/or attending university. I think that had it have been approached differently, there could have been a different response, and at the time the United States needed those who were higher in societal ranking to have the basis that Deism provided in order to attract the public eye. In the southern areas of the United States there were many small Native American villages that rooted themselves amongst the present day California, New Mexico and Arizona regions. They were commonly known as the Pueblo people and they had a very precise layout for their sacred places and villages. Their tribes were positioned in a circular fashion with the sacred place and religious leaders in the center, known as the Kiva, and moving outward were the women and the children followed by the young men who were the protectors of the Pueblo society. However the Spanish Franciscan Catholics who later came to these Native American tribes, completely inverted the Pueblo societal systems by changing cultural customs to function oppositely. For this reason, I believe that this transformation from particular Pueblo societies into Spanish Franciscan mission towns adequately illustrates religious conquest. More specifically, in creating these mission towns and overturning the system, they replaced the Kiva (typically underground) with a church (typically above ground), they switched male and female roles in society and they turned their prayer sticks into crosses; just to name a few. These actions were done in interest to conquer the Pueblo system and put Franciscan religious practices into play instead. In this sense they were crippling the Pueblo tribes, and forcing a foreign religion on them. In the novel “Black Robe” by Justin Moore, a group of French Jesuit missionaries are living amongst a Huron tribe who they hope to eventually convert to their belief system. Father Laforgue, a devoted missionary at the beginning of his journey to another Huron tribe, experiences numerous events that transform his ways of thinking. At the end of the novel, he strays from his principle beliefs at the beginning of the novel. With his new Huron village rapidly dying from a disease, Father Laforgue finds himself being