By: LCC Juda Alvarez
The religious landscape in the United States is diverse and it is characterized by the freedom of religion, established by the U.S. Constitution, and by immigration.
In fact, the religious pluralism in the United States has its origins in the American Colonies of the past, when members of religious minorities being persecuted emigrated from Europe to the New World so they could freely practice their beliefs. And even today, people from all over the world continue to arrive, bringing with them, their unique traditions of faith to the towns and cities in the United States.
Devotees of all faiths are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees the free exercise of religion and prohibits the government from establishing a national religion or granting preferences to any religious group.
At present, Christians who belong to thousands of existing denominations represent three-quarters of the American population.
Thus, it should be noted that all other major religions in the world are also professed in the United States, while almost 16% of the population identify as non-religious.
While most Americans are devout, they are also tolerant of the religious creed of others and surprisingly anti dogmatic in the sense of not believing that their own religion is the only true path, according to the Pew Research Center.
In every American community there are Christians of different denominations who go to church on Sundays, Jews who attend the synagogue on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings and Muslims who pray daily in their mosques, while Hindus and Buddhists visit their temples to meditate and the Sikhs go to their services in the temples called Gurdwaras.
In addition, interreligious dialogue and prayer services are common in many communities, and interreligious marriages are no longer uncommon.
Some religious groups are more prevalent in certain parts of the United States. For example, Lutherans are clearly represented in the northern Midwest, while Baptists, including members of historic African-American churches, predominate in southern states. Eastern Orthodox Christians have a higher concentration in Alaska, Pennsylvania, California and New York, while Mormons represent 90% of the population of Utah.
In Dearborn, Michigan, Muslims account for a third of the population, while in the metropolitan area of New York City has the largest Jewish population concentrated outside the state of Israel.
Sikhs, like Muslims and Jews, are scattered throughout the United States, but they are found in greater numbers in California, New Jersey, and New York. The Buddhists, mainly present in the major American cities, consider San José, in California, one of its main bastions.
Quakers, perhaps best known for their pacifist traditions, maintain historical ties with the northeastern region of the country, but they are scattered from coast to coast. Hindus are also scattered throughout the United States, with the New York region having the largest number of Hindu temples in the country, followed by Texas and Massachusetts.
Shintoism is professed in the states of Colorado, Hawaii and Washington; This last state has the largest number of Americans of Japanese descent. And the religious rites of the indigenous peoples of North America, in all their varieties, are practiced in all the indigenous territories, mostly in the western states, in the northwest Pacific and Alaska.
In this journey of religious diversity, a denomination called The Light of the World has emerged with great force, which has been strengthened in an imposing way, and its presence no longer goes unnoticed, in practically the 50 states of the union.
This religious organization has held large gatherings and meetings in several major cities of the United States, where it has flexed its muscle by gathering thousands of its parishioners, in events that have stood out for their order and discipline. Several of these meetings are called Holy Convocation, which consist of celebrating the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was delivered, they say, till death on the cross by the Roman laws, and thus bring a hope of spiritual salvation to humanity.
It should be mentioned here that in a few weeks this church will celebrate the first national concentration of this kind, which in words and information provided by its organizers will house around 50 thousand people belonging to this religious affiliation.
The state of California and specifically the city of San Bernardino will host this event, on February 14th, which will be attended by faithful of this church, from all states of the country, as well as delegates of the 53 countries where it has presence.
The tradition of religious pluralism, is a defining characteristic of United States democracy since the 18th century, and is still alive and well in the 21st century.