Nonofficial vs. Official Religion

McGuire’s chapter 4 brings up the differences between nonofficial religion and official religion. As some one who has identified with both of these categories at one point or another in my life, it is interesting to see the actual breakdown of each of the categories. For instance, the chapter discusses “religious syncretism” where there is a “blending of diverse cultural elements into one religion” (McGuire 113). Religion is just another aspect of one’s own culture. However, in today’s America, I feel that religion is becoming more and more separated from people’s everyday lives. For many, church is what you do on Sunday, and that’s it. But for so many cultures around the world, “religion” is intertwined with their way of life. From Hinduism in the Indian culture, to Buddhism in China, and Islam in the middle east, religion is part of the culture and everyday life. While America is one of the “most religious countries”, culturally I would have to disagree.

However, one aspect from the last class (1/18) that I found particularly interesting was the map comparison of the “importance of religion” in states versus the electoral college map after this current election. The two maps show an evident correlation between being non or less religious and voting for Clinton, and more religious voting for Trump. For me, this map shows me that there are religious values in America that also align with politically conservative views as well, showing that religion does play a part in who one may vote, or not vote for in an election in America.

The religious landscape in America is difficult to completely understand, as nonofficial religion is on the rise. As McGuire points out, nonofficial religion is difficult to track and categorize as it does not follow a formal institution and is constantly changing and evolving.