Religion To The Rescue By Jane Porterfield

1016 Words 5 Pages
In Porterfield's work, Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation, she addresses the impact that religion and politics had on each other from the very beginning of the United States. Throughout the work, she addresses not only politics and religion, but the impact that gender, race, and class had on the religious and political systems that were developing. Porterfield's main points all circle back to the main theme of doubt, in which political and religious changes and influence came from a place of mistrust and doubt about the new system that the American people had created. She goes through the new nation's struggles chronologically, explaining the changes and influence of religion and politics as the new nation …show more content…
She starts the chapter off with an example from a novel written by Charles Brockden Brown, Jane Talbot. Porterfield says that the novel "acknowledged that religion must be accepted and skepticism relinquished as means to securing happiness, social approval, and respectable sex" (78). The American colonies had created a sort of power vacuum, where no one religion was in charge or had control over the government. In England, and many other places in Europe, not only was the citizens country subject to one dominate religion, the government was subject to one religion as well. In America, where there were many different sects, albeit mostly Christian, there was a struggle not only for governmental control, but social control. Where before one religion would dictate social standards as well as laws created and enforced by the government, Americans now had no such system to enforce a set of universal social standards. The new America was a scary and uncertain place, and as Porterfield explains in her introduction to the novel, "With doubt the cultural sickness that religion nursed, religion thrived as a way to interpret, relieve, and feed it" (13). Religion became the solution to many of the new and different avenues for the people of America, taking over much of people's social lives. Even skepticism that was purely political, such as the Friendly Club, was taken down by social pressure because it was a private meeting that did not include religion (79). While religion was used to set a new standard for the country, it did have benefits. Women and blacks were able to use religion to their advantage in certain situations. Richard Allen, for example, was able to use the idea that religion was a universal right and the means to salvation in order to better his life. A former slave, the Methodist faith was able to inspire him to work

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