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Religion in the USA
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I. The History of Religious Development in the USA………………………….

II. The Mainstream Religious Movements in America ………………………….

2.1 Christianity as the Biggest Religion in the World and in the USA, Centered on God and Jesus Christ………………………………………………………….

2.1.1 Catholicism in the USA: Immigration, Persecution, and Divisiveness..

2.1.2 Protestantism in America: The Problem of Renewal…………………..

2.1.3 Born Again in the USA. The Power of American Evangelicalism…….

2.2 Muslims as a free-thinking nation in America……………………………..

2.3 Jewish Identity in America………………………………………………….


I. The History of Religious Development in the USA.
When we are speaking about religion in the USA, from our point of view we should start with the analysis of Native American religion. The Indian systems of belief and ritual were as legion as the tribes inhabiting North America. But all the tribes had three identical features such as creation myths, transmitted orally from one generation to the next, which purported to explain how those societies had come into being; most native peoples worshiped an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator or “Master Spirit” (a being that assumed a variety of forms and both genders), they also venerated or placated a host of lesser supernatural entities, including an evil god who dealt out disaster, suffering, and death; the members of most tribes believed in the immortality of the human soul and an afterlife, the main feature of which was the abundance of every good thing that made earthly life secure and pleasant. Most Native American tribes believed that the souls of the dead passed into a spirit world and became part of the spiritual forces that influenced every aspect of their lives. Many tribes believed in two souls: one that died when the body died and one that might wander on and eventually die.

Mayas were one of the most ancient civilization in the history of the USA. Mayas were people of great power, beauty and colour. Skilled artist and architects, Mayas adorned their temple-cities with picture symbols and carvings of fanciful monsters.

Mayan life centered around religion. The people believed that the earth was surrounded by 13 separate heavens and 9 distinct hells. Each day of the week was represented by a living god whose behaviour was predicted through a complex calendar system.

The importance of religion in Mayan life gave their priests great power. Priests and nobles dressed and life colourful splendor. Priests adorned themselves in jaguar skins, vivid red robes, iridescent bird feathers and flower-topped headdresses.

Another civilization of American Indies we would like to mention was Aztecs. When Cortйs arrived in Mexico, he was astonished to find a city populated by about 3000 people. They had a well-regulated economy, a highly defined class structure, a system of courts and a strong moral code that put family and community above all. These people, who had first moved into the fertile central valley of Mexico around 1200 A.D., were the Aztecs.

Religion was a very important part of Aztec life, and the Aztec gods required human sacrifices to assure their favour. Because the Aztec needed an endless supply of captives for sacrifice, they were fierce warriors who were feared by neighbouring Indian groups.

On the other hand, the Aztecs’ religion kept them from slaughtering Cortйs and his men on sight. According to Aztec legend, the god Quetzalcoatl, giver of all knowledge and good things, had sailed into the eastern sea 500 years earlier, promising to return. When Cortйs arrived on the eastern sea, the Aztecs thought he was fulfilling the promise. Thus the way to conquest and ruin was opened. The Spaniards defeated the Aztecs, destroyed the city of Tenochtitlan, and built Mexico City in the same location.

At the Age of Exploration religion also was very important as people were becoming more interested in worldly, practical affaires. The Protestant Reformation, The Renaissance, the development of nation states and the growth of trade all worked together to change the outlook of Western Europeans. Interest in practical matters and the world outside Europe led to advances in shipbuilding and navigation. Western Europeans were ready to strike out in new directions. Columbus’ voyage was only a beginning.

Portugal reacted immediately to Columbus’ first voyage. The foundations for Portugal’s achievements were laid in the early 1400’s by Prince Henry “the Navigator”, a man who neither sailed to strange land nor discovered anything. Yet from his observatory maritime workshop at Sagres, he kindled the fires of discovery that changed the shape of the world.

Henry wanted to break The Arab hold on Europe, bring the Portuguese more trade and power and spread Christianity. These goals were completely achieved.

Then the Spaniards tried to conquer American lands. For many reasons, The USA is historically indebted to Spain. Christopher Columbus, sailing under Spain’s sponsorship, opened the New World to European colonization. Spanish adventures such as Cabeza de Vaca, Ponce de Leon and Francisco Coronado explored the North American wilderness. Spaniards found the Mississippi river and the Grand Canyon. And by the middle of the 1500’s, they had explored North America as far west as the Pacific and as far north as Oregon.

On the heels of the explorers came the Spanish missionaries. They colonized the Spanish Empire by converting Indians to the Catholic religion. The missionaries also persuaded them to follow Spanish laws and take up farming and ranching as a lifestyle.

At the time of English Colonization, Virginia was the first American city to be colonized by commercial company for profit. In contrast, the development of New England was shaped by people whose chief motives were related to their religious beliefs. Although profit-seeking also had a role, it was secondary.

In the early 1500’s, Henry VIII of England broke away from the Catholic Church. The brake occurred because the Pope refused Henry’s request that his childless marriage to Catherine of Aragon be dissolved. Because Henry wanted to remarry, he declared that the Pope now longer had power in England. Henry established the Church of England, with himself at its head, as the state religion (a religion officially supported by the government). However, he made few changes in church practices. Some followers of the Protestant Reformation in England, known as Puritans, thought that reform was needed to make the Church of England less like the Catholic Church.

A minority group, called Separatists, believed that the Church of England could not be reformed from within. In 1602, they began to start their own churches. The Separatist churches were against the law, and some members were thrown into prison.

In 1608 a small group of Separatists fled to Holland, where they were allowed religious freedom. But over the next few years they became increasingly disturbed because their children were adopting the language, customs and worldly ways of the Dutch. After much discussion, the Separatists decided to leave Holland for America. Going first to England, they obtained a land grant in Virginia from the London Company. To finance the venture, they formed a joint-stock company with some London merchants.

A small group of the Separatists, known as Pilgrims, set sail from England on the Mayflower in 1620. While still on board ship, therefore, they decided to draft an agreement to form a government. The agreement they signed was called the Mayflower Compact. It was a simple document which expressed their feeling that governments derived their just powers from the people who are governed.

After some exploring, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement. However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. After harvesting in their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving. And in the end of it the Puritans became part of what has been called the “great migration” of English people to America.

By the early 1700’s, religion in the colonies had gone into a decline. Large numbers of people did not belong to any church. This period ended with a vast rekindling of religious faith known as the Great Awakening, which reached its peak around1740. As a result of Great Awakening, new branches of the Protestant religion were founded. But the new churches did not claim that all other churches were false. Instead, different churches were regarded as different ways of expressing the same faith. Thus the Great Awakening contributed to the growth of religious tolerance and, along with it, belief in separation of church and state.

The 19th century is well-known as the period of the Second Great Awakening. This process was not limited to the frontier. Revivals flourished among Congregationalists in New England and Presbyterians in central New York and Pennsylvania. They roused young students at college campuses. Revivals provided an emotional release from the hard and isolated life on the frontier. For a moment, pioneers could forget the drabness and squalor of their lives, the pains and sorrow they endured as they struggle to carve an existence out of the forest.

For families that enjoyed little social interaction with others, revivals offered a chance to participate in a wider social gathering, to renew old friendships and make new ones. For those at the bottom of the social hierarchy, the revivalists’ message emphasized an individual’s ability to gain personal triumph and salvation, regardless of his or her station in life.

On the assumption of foregoing facts we suppose that the Second Great Awakening exercised a profound impact on American history. America was becoming a more diverse nation and among this there were growing differences. These new social ideas formed from this awakening were to abolish slavery, give women rights, prohibit alcohol, and create public education.

During the 20th century, the United States also experienced a revival of religion. Americans in larger numbers joined churches and felt the need to express some form of religious belief. Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and Judaism were recognized as the three “American faiths”.

In conclusion, we would like to say that American religious life is very diverse than it has been at any time previously. Not only old, but many young Americans express a new interest in religion. And there is now a growing tolerance among their members toward differences in religious beliefs.

II. The Mainstream Religious Movements in America

2.1 Christianity as the Biggest Religion in the World and in the USA, Centered on God and Jesus Christ.

Today in America, about 75% of adults identify themselves as Christian. Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings. Adherents of the Christian faith are known as Christians.

Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, God sent his Son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins. Christians believe that there is a life after earthly death. While the actual nature of this life is not known, Christians believe that many spiritual experiences in this life help to give them some idea of what eternal life will be like. One of the most important concepts in Christianity is that of Jesus giving his life on the Cross (the Crucifixion) and rising from the dead on the third day (the Resurrection). Because of this, Christians commonly refer to Jesus as Christ or Messiah.

Christians believe that there is only one God, but that there are three elements to this one God: God the Father, God the Son, The Holy Spirit.

Christians worship in churches.

Their spiritual leaders are called priests or ministers.

Christian holy book is the Bible, and consists of the Old and New Testaments.

The Christian holy days such as Easter and Christmas are important milestones in the Western secular calendar

Because of this, Christians commonly refer to Jesus as Christ or Messiah. The three largest groups in the world of Christianity are the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and the various churches of Protestantism.

Christian denominations in the United States are usually divided in three large groups, Evangelicalism, Protestantism and Catholicism.

The 2004 survey of religion and politics in the United States identified the Evangelical percentage of the population at 26.3%; while Catholics are 22% and Protestants make up 16%.
I.1. Born Again in the USA. The Power of American Evangelicalism.

Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s. Evangelicalism is the term applied to a number of related movements within Protestantism. They are bound together by a common emphasis on what they believe to be a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a commitment to the demands of the New Testament. Evangelicalism is usually associated with a type of preaching that calls on the hearer to confess his or her sin and believe in Christ's forgiveness.

During the late 17th century and throughout the 18th, Pietism was the mainspring of the so - called evangelical revival in Germany. Its counterpart in Great Britain and the United States was Methodism, which contributed to the series of revivals called the Great Awakening that swept 18th century America. The common purpose of evangelical movements was to revitalize the churches spiritually. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Evangelicals in the Church of England - especially William Wilberforce and other members of the group known as the Clapham Sect - played a leading role in the movement to abolish slavery in the British colonies. Since about 1950 the term evangelical frequently has been applied in the United States to the inheritors and proponents of Fundamentalism.

Evangelicals believe that each individual has a need for spiritual rebirth and personal commitment to Jesus Christ as savior, through faith in his atoning death on the cross (commonly, although not necessarily, through a specific conversion experience). They emphasize strict orthodoxy on cardinal doctrines, morals, and especially on the authority of the Bible. Many Evangelicals follow a traditional interpretation of the Bible and insist on its inerrancy (freedom from error in history as well as in faith and morals).

The term Evangelicalism has been a source of controversy, and the precise relationship or distinction between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism has been disputed. Liberal Protestants often oppose the use of Evangelical to refer only to the strict traditionalists.
In the English-speaking world, however, the modern usage usually connotes the religious movements and denominations which sprung forth from a series of revivals that swept the North Atlantic Anglo-American world in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Key figures associated with these revivals included the itinerant English evangelist George Whitefield (1715-1770); the founder of Methodism, John Wesley (1703-1791); and  American philosopher and theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). These revivals were particularly responsible for the rise of the Baptists and Methodists from obscure sects to their traditional position as America’s two largest Protestant denominational families.

Indeed, by the 1820s evangelical Protestantism was by far the dominant expression of Christianity in the United States. The concept of evangelism–revival was introduced by evangelists like Charles G. Finney (1792-1875)–became “revivalism” as evangelicals set out to convert the nation. By the decades prior to the War Between the States, a largely-evangelical “Benevolent Empire” (in historian Martin Marty’s words) was actively attempting to reshape American society through such reforms as temperance, the early women’s movement, various benevolent and betterment societies, and the most controversial of all – the abolition movement.

After the war, the changes in American society was caused by such powerful forces as urbanization and industrialization, along with new intellectual and theological developments, began to weaken the power of evangelicalism within American culture. Likewise, evangelical cultural hegemony was diminished in pure numeric terms with the influx of millions of non-Protestant immigrants in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. Nonetheless, evangelical Protestantism remained a powerful presence within American culture. Going into the 20th century evangelicalism still held the status of an American “folk religion” in many sectors of the United States, particularly the South.

A general estimate of the nation’s evangelical population could safely be said to average somewhere between 30-35% of the population, or about 100 million Americans.

I.2. Protestantism in America: The Problem of Renewal.

Protestantism originated in the 16th century Reformation, and most modern Protestant denominations can trace their heritage to one of the major movements that sprung up in the 16th century. Anglicans and Episcopalians trace their heritage to the Church of England that resulted from King Henry VIII's break from the authority of Rome.

Protestant denominations differ in the degree to which they reject Catholic belief and practice. Some churches, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, tend to resemble Catholicism in their formal liturgy, while others, like Baptists and Presbyterians, retain very little of the liturgy and tradition associated with the Catholic church.

In common with Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Protestants adhere to the authority of the Bible and the doctrines of the early creeds. Protestants are distinguished by their emphasis on the doctrines of "justification by grace alone through faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the supremacy of Holy Scripture in matters of faith and order. Most Protestant churches recognize only two sacraments directly commanded by the Lord - baptism and communion - as opposed to the seven sacraments accepted by the Catholic Church. As a result of this fact, the Second Vatican Council led to a new stage in American Church history to be known as the age of dialogue. It meant that for the first time serious discussion would take place between Roman Catholics and Protestants over a wide variety of topics. After the liturgical reforms, and the statements on ecumenism and the Church, it was possible for Roman Catholics and Protestants to worship together under limited conditions, to engage in disciplined and continual theological discussion, and to seek cooperation in a wide variety of areas. It also meant that the way for dialogue was open at a new level between Christians and Jews. Thus the importance of the Vatican Council for Protestantism in America was incalculable. Only the future will indicate its true significance.

Meanwhile the Protestant Churches in America had moved into a new level of discussion and understanding and respect for their Roman Catholic brethren. Roman Catholic theological students were to be found in Protestant theological schools and Protestant students were beginning to attend Roman Catholic institutions. Regular discussions took place between Roman Catholic and Protestant theological students.

Thus the Church faces the future. The two major themes that bound together Protestantism in American life found themselves still active, but in new form. The contemporary intellectual and sociological scene compelled them to look once again at the profound insights of the Biblical message. The loyalty to the Bible that marked early Protestantism found representation both in the older approach and in the new attempt to find creative ways to bring the Biblical vision of life to bear in American society.

At the same time, the experimentation that marked early Protestantism continues at a higher level and in radically new forms. Even the dialogue between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism represents a new experiment within Protestantism which seeks to find more relevant ways for the Church to serve the world. The experimentation that marks home missions work and theological education is but symptomatic of the continuing determination of the Protestant Churches in America to find fresh and vital ways to minister to contemporary life. New forms of ministry and experimentation in organizational structures are well under way. The Church is open to greater self-criticism than perhaps at any other time in American history. The Protestant Churches realize that they cannot go on ministering in the same old way if they wish to be responsible to their heritage and to contemporary life. Thus the Church faces the future. In the 1950’s and 1960’s Christianity faced one of its greatest crises in the American scene. In some lands it was under the cross enduring persecution. In America it was so prosperous that it appeared to become flabby. Could it face these multiple threats? In an atomic age, destruction might come at any moment. But on the other hand, atomic science appeared ready to usher in a new age of comfort and progress through automation. In either case, the task of the Church remained constant – to preach God’s judgment against all pretension, pride, and malice and to proclaim God’s creative, forgiving, and accepting love. Only in this way could modern man have a full understanding of his nature and his destiny in an age of violent extremes. The Church rests secure in the faith that God has more truth and light yet to break forth from his Holy Word and produce ever more exciting experiments and attempts to make it meaningful for modern man.

I.3. Catholicism in the USA: Immigration, Persecution, and Divisiveness.

The story of Roman Catholicism is the story of immigration. Until about 1845, the Roman Catholic population of the United States was a small minority of mostly English Catholics, who were often quite socially accomplished. But when several years of devastating potato famine led millions of Irish Catholics to flee to the United States in the mid of the 19th century, the face of American Catholicism began to change drastically and permanently. . In the 1840's there was a major influx of Irish immigrants, the number of Catholics in America had soared to 1.75 million, leading to the formation of the inter-denominational American Protestant Association was organized to coordinate the various anti-Catholic groups. Many of the Protestant voluntary societies also participated in the anti-catholic agitation. Many Protestants believed that any group that threatened their efforts to build a Christian America was not deserving of the protections of religious freedom, and not surprisingly, they did not receive them.

In the space of fifty years, the Catholic population in the United States suddenly transformed from a tight-knit group of landowning, educated aristocrats into an incredibly diverse mass of urban and rural immigrants, who came from many different countries, spoke different languages, held different social statuses, and emphasized different parts of their Catholic heritage.

As Catholicism grew steadily (primarily, but not exclusively through immigration), it began to threaten Protestant hopes for the future of America. Americans proved ill-equipped to welcome so many strangers into their midst. But a focal point of the conflict between Protestants and Catholics was the education system. For their part Protestants distrusted the alleged subservience of Catholics to their priests, and many echoed Daniel Dorchester of the Evangelical Alliance who stated: "We believe the Roman Catholic Church is inimical to the best progress of society, and in direct antagonism to the historic religion of the nation –the religion of the Holy Scriptures". Catholics, on the other hand were concerned about the increasing Protestant tone of many public schools (public education was seen by most Protestants as a way to inculcate the next generation with the generic "Christian" values shared by all Protestants). When Catholics moved to build a parochial school system in response to this persistent generic "Christian" indoctrination, their efforts were viewed by many Protestants as a threat to the on-going effort to build a Christian commonwealth through a system of public education. But perhaps the greatest challenge concerned the tensions it created in the church.

American Catholics were not exactly happy to see the new immigrants. Not only Protestants troubled about new immigrants, the immigrants presented problems for the existing Catholic parishes. The wave of immigration from Ireland led to tension between the Irish and the French dominated American Catholic Church. Later the process repeated itself in the post-Civil War period with the Irish in positions of power, and the new immigrants coming from places like Naples and Sicily. These new immigrants shared little in common with their Irish Catholic co-religionists other than their faith.

Another major challenge was reaching all these immigrants with the sacraments of the faith. Although frontier church history is largely seen as a Protestant phenomenon, Catholics did a remarkable job reaching these new Americans, organizing new sees and appointing new Bishops to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding church.

For all of its trouble, the American Catholic Church managed to grow – not just by immigration--but by conversion. During the 19th century, converts to Catholicism numbered 700,000. Many of these came from the ranks of Episcopalians who were so compelled by their High Church beliefs, that they carried them through to their logical conclusion. In 1852, 50 priests and one Bishop Levi S. Ives of the Episcopal Church had converted to Roman Catholicism.

In the 20th century the greatest impact on the atmosphere in the American Catholic Church was the attack of Modernism. The roots of Modernism were Protestant, but Catholic Biblical scholars in America quickly accepted the results of the Higher Criticism of Scripture that had developed in European Protestant circles. At first this was encouraged by the Vatican. But as questions began to be raised about the development (or evolution of Scripture), and some cherished beliefs began to be questioned, the Pope began to put distance between himself and some of the more controversial results arising out of his encouragement of theological scholarship.

In 1893, the Pope issued the encyclical Providentissimus Deus which set down a rigid view of biblical inspiration. His successor, Pope Pius X was even more resolute in his attacks on the new tendencies, and in 1907 issued the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis which attacked Modernism. In this encyclical, the modernism of the American Church was attacked as a conspiracy. Whereas those who viewed themselves to be part of the modernist movement differed widely in their doctrinal views, the Pope took the most extreme views from this spectrum of viewpoints and used them as straw men to attack the movement. The remedy for dealing with those who held to any modernist view was vigorous ecclesiastical prosecution. While this strategy was successful in driving modernists from the church, it also had a profound impact on the theological atmosphere of the Catholic Church in the United States.

Slowly, but surely, the Vatican began to exercise increasing control over independent minded American Catholics. Ideas held by modernists (abandonment of clerical celibacy, harmonizing of "dogmas and their evolution" with "science and history," democracy within the church governance, a return of the clergy to "their primitive humility and poverty") could no longer be entertained by good Catholics publicly or privately. It would be some time before the winds of change would again stir the waters of American Catholicism.

2.2 Muslims as Facing Discrimination in America.
The Muslims followed the religion of Islam, which had been founded in Arabia by Muhammed during the 600’s. The sacred scripture is the Koran. After Muhammed’s death, his followers spread their religion to large parts of Africa and Asia, often by force. By the year 1000 the Muslims ruled vast lands, from Spain and North Africa in the West, to Egypt and Palestine in the Middle East, and to India and part of Central Asia in the East.

Unquestionably, Muslims have made an impact on the evolution of American society. Historically Muslims have made major contribution, e.g. humanities, the sciences, and art. They explored North America 300 years before the so-called "discovery" of the New World by Christopher Columbus. They used the Mississippi river as their access route to and from the continent's interior.

 First of all let’s discuss the basic Muslim’s beliefs as we can see some different features of such beliefs in modern Islamic society in the USA.

The most important belief in Islam is that there is one God. Muslims believe that God is the all-powerful Creator of a perfect, ordered universe. He is transcendent and not a part of his creation, and is most often referred to in terms and with names that emphasize his majesty and superiority. Among the 99 Beautiful Names of God in the Quran are: the Creator, the Fashioner, the Life-Giver, the Provider, the Opener, the Bestower, the Prevailer, the Reckoner, the Recorder, the King of Kingship and the Lord of the Worlds.

According to Muslim theology, mankind's chief failing is pride and rebellion. In their pride, humans attempt to partner themselves with God and thereby damage the unity of God. Thus pride is Islam's cardinal sin. The cardinal virtue, then, is submission, or Islam.

As for the life and salvation, Muslim consider that the purpose of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person's deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate. The Quran also suggests a doctrine of divine predestination.

The Muslim doctrine of salvation is that unbelievers and sinners will be condemned, but genuine repentance results in Allah's forgiveness and entrance into Paradise upon death.

Like Christianity, Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. Muslims believe there will be a day of judgment when all humans will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell.

Muslims believe in the prophets and messengers of God, starting with Adam, including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus.  But God’s final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.  Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last prophet sent by God. Muslims believe that all the prophets and messengers were created human beings who had none of the divine qualities of God.

Let’s turn to the role of woman in Islam. The issue of women in Islam is highly controversial. On one hand, there is nothing in Islamic doctrine or in the Quran, which holds women responsible for Adam's expulsion from paradise or the consequent misery of humankind.

The woman in Islamic law is equal to her male counterpart. She is as liable for her actions as a male is liable. Her testimony is demanded and valid in court. Her opinions are sought and acted upon.

A woman is given the role of a mother; a role that Islam gives the highest respect to after Allah. People who disobey their mothers are held in God's eyes as the worst type of sinners. Such is the place of women in the eyes of Allah. And she is a wife; companion to man in all his social, physical and economic endeavours. But not always women in Islam had so many rights. For example 14 centuries ago, women and girls faced oppression in many forms. Women were denied basic human rights: they were often kept as slaves and unwanted baby girls were killed (female infanticide). The teachings of Muhammad led to important legal and societal changes that helped eliminate these cruel customs.

But in spite of these changes, nowadays there are also some minuses in life of Islamic women. We know the famous dress covering women’s face and body which is called hijab. The origin of such dates back to ancient times and the teachings of the Quran. The Quran encourages both men and women to dress modestly and to avert their eyes when encountering each other — in order to understand each other first as human beings, not as men or women. But today, Muslim women from different countries and cultures adopt many varieties of hijab, ranging from a simple headscarf to a full-length robe and facial veil. Many Muslim women choose not to wear any head covering. In the United States,

many Muslim women don’t wear hijab.

Most of all women have a lot of obligations in a family, for example, to tidy a house, to clean linen, to be resigned to a husband. Islamic women are not allowed to leave a house without a husband’s permission. They are forbidden to stay alone with an unknown man. As a result of it, Islamic feminism appeared.

Muslim feminism has liberal view of Islam and tries to adapt it to modern time. Islamic feminism is a form of feminism concerned with the role of women in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life. Islamic feminists advocate women's rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework.

Muslims feminism argues that for a long time, our imagination about Islam was dominated by a patriarchal vision of Islam, but that this is not necessarily an authentic Islam. Islamic feminism is clearly state feminism, or a part of fundamentalist and religious movement, and according to this trend, women’s identification with religious movements help Muslim women’s emancipation.

In conclusion I would like to say that Islam in the USA has a unique opportunity to influence Islamic thinking throughout the world. This country’s freedom for the exploration of ideas has already facilitated the development of new interpretation of Islam. That freedom carries with it the responsibility for Muslim intellectuals to address current issues such as the relationship between Islam and implications of modern science, as well as to fashion Islamic approaches to religious diversity, the environmental crisis, attacks on Islam and gender roles.
2.3 Jewish Identity in America

The first thing we should start with is that the roots of Judaism go back almost to the first settlement of America, the Jewish community is predominately the product of a great wave of immigration in the post-war decades of the nineteenth century. The earliest Jewish settlement included the 23 who landed at New Amsterdam in 1654. These were Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. With them were a few Ashkenazic Jews from Central Europe and Poland.

Initial immigration was slow. By 1776, there were perhaps 2500 Jews in British North America. They settled along the coast in New York, Philadelphia, the Carolinas and Georgia where they engaged in trade or finance. Most quickly established synagogues and were orthodox in their rites. But they soon discovered--as had their fellow countrymen--that the old patterns of home could not be simply reproduced, and that there would have to be accommodations to American life.

These adaptations were at first imperceptible. By 1825, numbers within the Jewish community had reached 5000 (out of a population of 13 million) and the demands for some modification of Jewish practice to accommodate conditions in their new homeland were becoming explicit. A group of young Jews in Charleston formed the "Reformed Society of Israelites." The year before they had petitioned the established congregation for certain reforms and modifications – greater decorum in the services, elimination of Spanish from the ritual, and sermons in English – but their petitions were rejected and so they seceded. (That this secession occurred in Charleston in 1825 suggests the degree that these young Jews had absorbed the values of the culture around them.) They were not successful, however, and so they returned to the older congregation, but the future would prove to be with them.

Another migration of Jews which affected the development of religious diversity in America was the Ashkenazim.

In the 1820's a wave of German immigration began that was to remake Jewish life in America. From 1820-1870, between 200,000 and 400,000 Jews came to the United States from central Europe. These "Germans" did not fuse with their native brothers and sisters in the faith. The German Jews were foreigners with different ways and cultural backgrounds. They were Ashkenazim, whereas native Jews considered themselves Sephardic (although they were of a mixed parentage) and therefore superior.

For their part, non-Jewish Americans tended to view these newcomers as Germans, rather than Jews. The German Jews also identified themselves as Germans and joined German institutions. But it was not long before these German Jews were numerous enough to establish their own Jewish institutions and movements, but even then these often existed side by side with their German counterparts. Indeed, it was only after a lengthy period of time that these Jews ceased feeling apart of the German community in the United States.

The German Jews took occupations that dispersed them throughout the land and along the advancing frontier. They became peddlers, retail merchants, and ultimately bankers and large-scale businessmen. The high degree of dispersal and their relative prosperity speeded their accommodation and assimilation to American life. By mid-century, they were already erecting a network of community institutions. Synagogues were established, cultural activities were undertaken and educational institutions were established, as well as Jewish hospitals. A Young Men's Hebrew Association sprang up in New York in 1854 to cultivate and better foster knowledge of the history, literature, and doctrines of Judaism. By 1860, American Jews had established 5 national orders of their own including B'nai B'rith (Sons of the Covenant).

Reflecting the dispersal and speed of acculturation of the German Jews in the mid-19th century, intermarriage and defection from the Jewish community reached considerable proportions. As one scholar has put it, as the second generation grew to maturity, there was strong likelihood that, eager to be Americanized, it would discard everything associated with the immigrant heritage of its fathers, including religion. To stem the tide of dissolution, leaders of the German-Jewish community made strenuous efforts to hasten the adaption of Jewish religious patterns to American conditions. Unless the Synagogue accommodated itself to its new environment, it was warned there would be no Jews to mark the advent of the 20th century.

And the last great migration of Jews about which we need to discuss was a great deluge of East European Immigrants began to appear on American shores. From our point of view, this wave of immigration had a profound impact, washing away the pattern of life that American Judaism had settled into.

This time, Jews were not one part of a larger migration of their countrymen. Many were peasants, rather than businessmen. Because of their poverty, and lack of skills, they were less able to have the means to disperse geographically. Many settled in ghettos where they became petty merchants, artisans, or they entered the garment trade. For first time in the United States, and indeed in the Western world, there emerged a large Jewish proletariat that made its living working for wages in industry. Although these Jews eventually moved into business, and the white collar professions, their roots were in the trades.

Like the German Jews before them, many of these new immigrants identified with the nation and culture from which they came. But the great bulk derived from Yiddish speaking communities and had little association with the culture of the land of their birth. These persons formed a new Yiddish community. One of the strongest Yiddish communities is in New York City. New York contains 1/2 of all the Jews in the country, but the city is divided still into two communities: the German and the East European. Each developed its own institutions, and both remained strangers to each other. But in the end these two communities united to become a well-defined ethnic group.

In conclusion, we consider that the most interesting fact in studying this problem that Judaism first established itself in the USA as an ethnic-immigrant group. In its earlier phases it was little different from the other immigrant groups with whom it made its overseas journey to the new world. But unlike the rest, it managed not to lose its corporate identity with advancing Americanization; instead – largely within the last quarter of a century – it underwent a change of character and turned into an alternative American religious community, retaining and enhancing its Jewishness in the process. It exemplifies the fundamental restructuring that transformed a land of immigrants into not one melting pot, but many.

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