1. When you think about the origins of Religion and Spirituality in American culture, a lot of different ideas, stories or parables come to mind. But one question is hardly ever asked or even thought of. Does American culture have a religion? More to the point, is there a religion that can solely be sourced to origins on American soil? The answer is yes. Both Mormonism and Scientology have roots deeply planted in American culture. However, around 25,000 Americans practice Scientology and an estimated 6.1 Million Americans practice Mormonism. That makes up 1.8% of Americans, in addition to that most Americans don’t recognize Scientology as a real religion and Mormonism falls under the Christianity branch of belief. So what ideas are truly native the country. I believe you must add Native American Spirituality to this argument as a source of religion truly sourced and founded in America as it is still practiced by a vast majority of living Native Americans. But in order to get to that we must first talk about the origins of Christianity as it stands with Americans today.
2. As it is true that Christianity is the most prevalent religion in America, It is also true that Christianity was brought to this soil with the first settlers. In England you had two choices for worship, The Roman Catholic Church and The Church of England. Both Christian churches, and theses settlers knew nothing but that so it comes to no surprise that those are the two major influences on American religion and spirituality. It should also be noted that those settlers wanted to distance themselves from England’s brand of religion so badly that the First Amendment of the Constitution explicitly lays out the separation of Church and State1. Christianity then splintered off into the various denominations that we have today, yet all of those styles still have the same foundation that can be traced back to Rome or England. Native Americans on the other hand don’t have those same beliefs. While Christianity focuses on a One true Higher Power, Native Americans look more to selection of Spiritual figures known as Deities.
3. Native American culture focuses more on the Earth, Weather, Sky and Sprits who manifest physical form as Deities. Depending on the culture these beings can be attributed to almost everything that is possible or could be possible. In most Native American Cultures there is always one deity that creates man but, they are not always benevolent. The Abenaki and the Algonquian tribes believe that life was created out wood, stone and other earthly elements by Tabaldak so that the earth could be full. If you follow the Navajo the Earth itself was created by Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé, she was also responsible for the stars and sky2. So who is right and who is wrong? No one can say. Most of these deities are created in myths and stories passed down from generation to generation.
But the message is the same across the tribes, Give thanks for what we have for it is not always promised. Now that we have an idea as how Native American Culture sees religion, let’s see if matches up with how American Culture sees it. 4. In Conclusion, we have seen how the most prevalent form of spirituality in American in not was actually brought in from England. That religion lays out the idea of a Supreme God who commands from Heaven and is omnipotent.
While the Native American Culture has its religious and spiritual roots found on American soil. They champion multiple deities who are responsible everything from creation to the basic things like food and water. The one thing they both have in common is you are expected to be a good wholesome person or you will be judged for you actions. In the afterlife for the Christians or when you just so happen to come across whatever deity you have offended with the Native American Culture. So no matter what you happen to believe in remember to be a good person and be ready to be responsible for your actions.
1 United States History website, http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3787.html 2 Wheelwright, Mary C. (2008) . Navajo Creation Myth: The Story of the Emergence. Forgotten Books. p.17