The Intersection of Official and Unofficial Religions

The number of “nones” in terms of religious affiliation are rapidly growing in our country. We know that this is caused by a number of reasons. Official religious organizations taking political stands in regards to abortion and birth control, sexual abuse scandals, figure heads contradicting religious pillars, and the preaching of discriminatory gender contributed to the rise of people who declared themselves “unaffiliated”. We have also established that although the number of people who don’t practice an official, organized religion, does not mean that religiosity is also on the decline– it is merely manifested in different ways.

In McGuire’s fourth chapter, the author discusses the complicated relationship between official religion and unofficial religion, and how different religious sects may interact with one another. For example, a devout Roman Catholic, who said her religion was a main component of her identity, described how she began to “weave in understandings of a variety of different religious and … spiritual traditions, and … ways of behaving in the world” in order to live a more comprehensively spiritual life (107). This is a small example of how even the most religious people are opening their hearts and minds to different denominations, changing “religious tolerance” to “religious appreciation”.

McGuire continues to articulate how many religious texts discuss women, and how that discussion often influences people to  assign women inferior societal roles. Just as other official religions have began to play apart in people’s personal religious lives, social progress has began to play apart in people’s agreement with traditional religious texts. McGuire associates this issue with that of power structures, and said that this may also be contributing to the growing number of unaffiliated people, making the intersection between official and unofficial religion all the more complicated.