America’s Religious Identity

“Does America have a religion? For the answer, look to Walt Whitman” by Anthony T. Kronman

While creating unity through groups, religion in America most commonly divides us. When concentrated, beliefs grow stronger. Finding a common ground with those who share different morals and values than our own becomes harder and compromise seems impossible. We, as a country, have found ways to neutralize this as much as possible through separation, such as the separation of the church and state. However, instead of separating and losing hope because of differences and individuality, some believe we as a nation can grow stronger by uniting under one idea. In, “Does America have a religion? For the answer, look to Walt Whitman”, Anthony T. Kronman analyzes Walt Whitman’s, “Democratic Vistas” which expands on the idea of America being “held together by the common spiritual ideal” of emphasizing individuality.  Whitman describes each human as divine and that each one of us “ are all expressions of the one everlasting God of the world”. Because we each have different backgrounds, personalities, and stories, we all become an integral part of this world. He describes the word “God” and the word “world” as being two different words with the same meaning. Whitman understands that not all Americans will follow this way of thinking, but he believes that regardless of previous beliefs, it would unite us as “One nation under God”. Although I understand the importance of a nation united under a common belief or idea, I do think that if we strip of a person of their religious/spiritual or non-religious/spiritual identity and replace it with a national identity, we would be ruining the idea of cultivating unity through individuality. Maybe unity could be created through a different aspect of a citizen’s life, but asking to replace personal values with a national value to preserve individuality is unintentionally stripping everyone’s individuality away.