Synthesis Essay Prompt: Religion

Religion has had a significant effect in the world’s history and plays a major role in many citizen’s lives. Religion today can be used as an influence towards peace and tolerance in the individual, home, and community. However, religion has also been used to justify extreme acts of violence and terror. 

Carefully read the following six sources, then synthesize material from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-developed essay that argues a clear position on the effect of religion’s role in modern society.

Prompt A: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5665159/ 

Prompt B: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/23/u-s-religious-groups-and-their-political-leanings/

Prompt C: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/B:COMH.0000003010.44413.37

Prompt D: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14718800208405115?journalCode=reno19&

Prompt E: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24674455?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Prompt F: https://voices.uchicago.edu/religionculture/2017/06/26/the-klan-white-christianity-and-the-past-and-present-a-response-to-kelly-j-baker-by-randall-j-stephens/


Religion is one of the world’s largest organizations. It’s dated to exist even before known record-keeping, making it an influencer of every major change since life as we know it reigned. However, it has also been the cause of contention in many cases. All religions provide for their followers in unique ways, and all have benefits to both the individual and the community. However, all globalized religions also have a history of contentions that led to social, political, and cultural upheavals, both violent and peaceful. Organized religion can act as a force of good in one’s life, however, it has also been the cause of society adhering to intense moral policies, ignoring the need for separation of church and state, and justifying acts of terror and violence.

The United States was famously inhabited by many different religious groups seeking freedom. Many of these groups fell under the Protestant denomination. Because of this, the country was founded on the principle of religious freedom and yet strictly follows a Christian policy of morality. Those who do not identify as Christian are often condemned for not behaving as if they were. For example, the marriage equality movement was largely antagonized as anti-religious, according to Document A. Many felt that such Christian values must be upheld even in the religiously-separated government. Those that did not adhere to the standards in the Bible, the staple work that Christians believe in, did not deserve legal rights. Is this not a negative of globalized religion? The USA claims religious tolerance and freedom, it was founded on that principle. And yet so many are ridiculed and denied acceptance because of their religious choices. 

Separation of church and state has been one of the most important government policies to uphold religious freedom. This policy works best on a national scale, hopefully keeping major religions from infiltrating ideals sought in Congress, the White Horse, or the Supreme Court (although it was already examined above that this fails to happen at times). However, when it comes to the local scale, religion and state find themselves in a difficult situation. In document B, certain religious groups and their average political party affiliations are analyzed and compared. According to Document B, in [2012], 95% of black Protestants said they voted for Democrat Barack Obama, while 78% of Mormons said they voted for Republican Mitt Romney. Although it is not wrong for lifestyle to influence political leanings, it is observed that many people feel the need to vote for candidates that legislate their own personal values, not what is best for the country. Document B notes that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a member of the Mormon religion, based mostly in Utah. An overwhelming percentage of Mormons voted for him, several stating that the fact he is a member of their religion was his most influential factor. Is this not dangerous, to assume that just because one is religious in the same way as you, they must be what is best for our large, diverse population? Organized religion makes the idea possible that one lifestyle is superior over another, and that mindset bleeds into the very politics that work so hard to keep it out.

Finally, and perhaps most devastatingly, is the habit of organized religion to be used as a justification for utmost evil. Throughout history, religion has conquered people both physically and mentally. The Crusades were fought in the name of religion to cover greed, hatred, and political tension. The KKK, referenced in Document F, reigned terror over the US for several centuries and operated in the name of religious nationalism. Today, terrorism in the Middle East and as a result the entire world claims Islamic Doctrine as reason for murder. Although it would be preposterous to claim these organizations as true representatives of their religion, it cannot be ignored that it is used as a justification. Christians have a history of opposing the legality of abortions, and several radicalists have resorted to the killing of abortion workers as a result. This terror is unacceptable. This terror is not a result of religious teachings, it should not be a reason to condemn each individual religion. However, religion must be examined by the world and analyzed for both its positives, which do exist as Document C and D state, as well as its negatives. 

Ultimately, organized religion has been a provoker of human inequalities, is an inappropriate influencer of government, and a means for some extremists to enact terror. Religion has been an infamous source of peace and community since the beginning of humanity, and yet it has also destroyed entire nations. It is up to you, the individual, to decide for yourself whether or not religion is right for your lifestyle. It is up to the citizens of free nations to regulate the use of religion, to keep it from infringing on the civil rights promised to every person, regardless of their affiliation.

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