Unification Through Religion

Kareem - Okemos, Michigan
Entered on December 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that religion in America is a socially unifying force. The idea of religion itself can be unifying through a group of people from separate beliefs coming together to advise on social issues. For example, Hindus and Muslims may meet and discuss the issue of racism they may be feeling in these times. Communities that accept the different religions they contain are particularly more cohesive than those that don’t.

Within a religion, there are many beliefs that unify its followers. Members of the same religion share traditions that people outside the religion may not have any knowledge about. This past summer I moved to Minnesota for an internship, living on my own for three months. Upon arriving, I visited the local Mosque and asked a few of the people there if they could offer me some help adjusting. They helped show me the Middle-Eastern grocery stores that my friends from work could not find. This experience showed me how united and socially supportive members of a religion really are.

Though my personal experiences portray the unity of religion in America, there are examples in history that strongly support this belief. Malcolm X, an influential activist in the 20th century, demonstrated unity in religion throughout his life. First, while adhering to the Nation of Islam, Malcolm protested and marched with other adherents, in a stance against the white ‘devil’. By performing these group activities, and advocating the teaching of the Nation of Islam that Black Americans must stand together, Malcolm proved that a religion is a unifying force for its adherents. The people of that religion came together and supported each other through their persecution, thereby bringing together Black Americans and giving them hope for their futures.

Finally, we can see how unifying religion is between people of separate beliefs, simply by looking in our own cities. In Haslett, Michigan, there is a Hindu religious temple that at first may seem just as ordinary as a church or mosque. However, this particular temple allows for people of many different areas of India to come and practice their beliefs, by including a Jain room and multiple deities to represent multiple areas of India. This type of temple is unique to America, with their goal being to have one area where all Indian people can count on, which, essentially, unifies the entire Indian community, regardless of each person’s religion.

Some countries around the world may claim religious unity by mandating a religion upon their people, however in America we have the constitutional right to freedom of religion. I believe that because no one person is forced to practice a certain religion, the country does better as a group, and is unified in their common goals of freedom and peace. Clearly, there will always be opposition to religious unity; however overall, my experience has been that religion is more unifying than dividing. This is especially true within one of the only countries in which its people have a constitutional right to religious freedom.