Popular Religion in Italy vs. America

Religion and Theology / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
A comparison between a religion that unites and a constitution that separates.

This paper argues that the basic characteristics of Italian’s popular religion are the same characteristics that ultimately, have prevented the United States of America from developing a popular religion in its own right. These characteristics include political resistance and reaction against the power of the preexisting and prevailing dominant religious power force – Catholicism; social atmosphere that arises from an evangelical value that unites from and is sustained by religious symbols and rituals; and, an overall cultural feeling of fidelity to the sacred, to the past.
Popular religion is a religion of the people, one that is practiced rather than prescribed. Badone (1990) states, popular religion can be referred to as those informal, unofficial practices, beliefs, and styles of religious expression that lack the formal sanction of established church structures (4,6). Not merely a religion set apart from traditional Catholicism or Protestantism, its foundation lies in the friction of politics, where popular religion serves to unite the people, and becomes a reaction to the pre-existing religious power structures that oversee society. Essentially, it is a social creation intertwined with political dissatisfaction and the preservation, and restructuring of, sacred religious values. In this paper I will argue that the basic characteristics of Italian popular religion are the same characteristics that ultimately, have prevented the United States of America from developing a popular religion in its own right. These characteristics include political resistance and reaction against the power of the preexisting and prevailing dominant religious power force – Catholicism; social atmosphere that arises from an evangelical value that unites from and is sustained by religious symbols and rituals; and, an overall cultural feeling of fidelity to the sacred, to the past.


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