Your assignment is to write a brief response essay (300-400 words) on the following topic:

Your assignment is to write a brief response essay (300-400 words) on the following topic:

 

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“What are the political implications of the relatively high rate of ‘religious switching’ among Americans?”

In answering this question, you will want to consider the possible effects on America’s religions or the possible effects for the nation’s political system–or both. Whatever the effect(s) you discuss, consider also the following question: Is this healthy for American democracy? Are there political implications? Why or why not?

Background:

We discussed the fact that the US has a very “free market” when it comes to religious marketplaces. The US has the highest rates of religious participation amount the OECD Developed nations. And the highest affiliation with religion of any country that doesn’t have government enforced mandatory religion.

But, this means people have lots of freedom to choose what religion they are involved in, so do people change?

YES! A whole lot! A 2017 study found that 54% of Americans say that they changed the denomination they were affiliated with in their lifetime (from Methodist to Lutheran, or from Catholic to Baptist, for example). And 28% had changed their Religious Tradition entirely- like from Judaism to Buddhism, or Christianity to Islam. Thats lots of “religious switching!”

When surveyed a group of college students in 2016, more than 6 out of 10 said they either had or are “very seriously considering” changing the religion they were raised in.

In fact, another study found that by middle age, people were more likely to have changed their religion than they were to have changed their political parties!

So what gives? We know religion plays a strong role in politics: like in shaping political opinion and debate, creating and sustaining political parties, motivating voter participation, and much more.

We also know that one of the most common reasons people give for switching their religion is because of politics. In fact, for those who disaffiliate from religion, disgust with religious politics is the number one reason they cite for leaving their faith.

Is this switching good for democracy? Do you think politics and religions are at odds with one another? If religion was less involved in politics, what would that mean for society? or for religions? Are there political implications with people switching their faith so much?

 

Reminder- focus here on society and religion. We are not concerned about what the individual consequences could be for the person if they leave their religion. Make sure your discussion is about the big picture social stuff.

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