The Role of Religion in Public Life
The question of what the role of religion should be in public life has bogged the world for centuries. In making of some of the best constitutions in the world, various arguments arose concerning the separation of the state and the church. While many understood public life and religion to be the two different institutions, it has clearly dawned on the world that religion and public life are quite inseparable. It is the reason why people agree that the United States has become much more religious today than what Tocqueville left in the 1830s. During this time, Tocqueville popularly argued that religion was the first political institution to be created by humanity. The problems that necessitated people to establish organized political movements were the challenges that they faced at family levels. This is quite evident today even as we witness religious leaders being engaged in intense lobbying the attempts to shape the political direction of their institutions.
The prominent argument from this page is on the rise of religion in most parts of the world. The author notes that religion, particularly Christianity is beginning to play a significant role in the lives of Americans. For instance, the religious conservatives surprised everyone when they stomped their authority in US politics by re-electing President George W. Bush. Conventionally, the rise of Christianity would be interpreted to mean the strengthening of the Christian fundamentalists. However, this is not the current case because they have evidently been overtaken by the Pentecostal wing of Christianity. It is because people have learnt to shun violence and intolerance, which have characterized the practice of Christian fundamentalism. (Goodstein, 2005).
The argument does not have any audience in particular, but generally readers who may have interest in social or religious issues. At the beginning of the text, the author keenly points out that the argument applies to every part of the world, except for Western Europe. This effectively reinstates that fact that the entire global population is targeted by this argument. In addition, the author gives examples from different parts of the world, including India, China, and South American among others. Indeed, Christianity is a global religion, and thus an argument involving its practice cannot be limited to a particular population. (Goodstein, 2005)
The author uses logical appeal in building his argument. This is because most of the things referred to in the argument are yet to take place. However, from a logical perspective they will certainly come to pass. For example, the fact that University students are adopting Protestant practices that allow them to listen to secular music, the author is almost convinced that the trend will be hard to reverse. (Hacer, 2006) Thus, it is logically a forgone case that Christian fundamentalism will soon be replaced with Protestantism. The way the author lays out his points is very ethological in that he clearly states the points that he is basing his argument on. He appeals to the logical part of his audience and gives them the tools necessary to debate on the topic themselves since he has provided all the information that he himself is using (Monaghan, 2000).
The argument is typical of a persuasive writing. This is evident in the manner in which the writer patches up his facts persuasively. For example, when the writer talks about the rapid rise of Christianity, he is quick to provide supporting evidence, including the proliferating house churches in China. To make it more persuasive, the writer notes that most Christians currently speak in tongues and perform miraculous healings, practices which are not common among Christian fundamentalists. This supports the assertion that Protestantism will soon overtake Christian fundamentalists. (Goodstein, 2005) Perhaps, the more convincing element of persuasive writing emerges when the writer postulates that Asia is likely to turn to religion because of the various challenges currently facing them. Indeed, there is no possible proof of this assertion, but the writer intends to convince the writer that there are several reasons why religion will continue to grow.
The argument is being made by a believer in Protestantism. It is evident that he has little love for Christian fundamentalism when he appears to support Professor Marty’s argument that Christian fundamentalism was basically a backlash against modernity and secularism. According to him, insisting that students should not listen to secular music was not a Christian principle and that the idea was basically meant to prop up opposition against modernity. In addition, the writer argues that Christian fundamentalism has even lost ground among Conservative Americans, implying that it has no place anywhere else in the world. These insinuations can only be made by someone who doesn’t believe in Christian fundamentalism. (Goodstein, 2005)
The vale that is created in this argument is that of a radical shift from violence and intolerance to a society of dialogue and mutual understanding. According to the writer, this is the major reason why Christian fundamentalism is unpopular everywhere, including American Conservatives, because people have learnt to shun violence. Defiance of past religious norms is evident in this argument. For example, the assertion that students have began to freely listen to contemporary music is a sign of social rebellion. They have realized that they gain nothing by blindly following some of these norms and that is why they are determined to go against them. In the writer’s opinion, Christian fundamentalism is doomed for good if this rebellious culture thrives. This particular argument intends to make the writer look sincere in his attacks on Christian fundamentalism. In light of an eminent clash between various religions, the writer appeals to religious leaders to do anything within their means to prevent possible conflicts, like the bombings witnessed in Iran.
In an attempt to appear convincing, the writer incorporates several facts, logics as well as evidence. For example, the writer quotes Appleby’s assertions that fundamentalism is on a steady decline due to its violent nature as evidence of the rise of Protestantism. (Goodstein, 2005) In this statement, Appleby recognizes that people are exhausted with violent confrontations and that they will readily shun any religion that practices violence. Logically, when people shun one idea, there are high likelihoods that they will embrace another with good social values. These are sufficient evidence that Protestantism will soon overtake Christian fundamentalism. In essence, the claims made in this argument include the decline of Christian fundamentalism and the eminent clash between various religious groups in the world.
The author’s argument mainly targets the logical part of the audience based on the way he gives is points: the focus is mainly on the facts and figures. This can be seen as appealing to the ethos of his audience. He seeks to build his credibility by quoting and stating facts and figures that are used to provide a base for his argument. This is opposed to appealing to the pathos or emotional side of an audience, which is a technique in which the writer tries to appeal to the emotional part of their audience. (Hacer, 2006) Although this particular author has been said to use logic or ‘logos’ and building of credibility which is appealing to the ‘ethos’ there are also elements of emotional or ‘pathos’ in his work. This is however very subtle and not very prominent, he does this maybe consciously or subconsciously through the use of words and phrases in his text. Every piece of literature has a tone or attitude to it and the author’s tone serve to show a little about what their views on the subject are. In this case the author has a tone that is very critical to religion and more specifically religious fundamentalism. The way he brings out some points such as the fact that Brazilian protestant churches are now very wealthy and investing in non-religious profit oriented activities such as sport and entertainment appeal to the emotions of a reader and can therefore be said to be more on the pathos side.
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