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Morality In The Gilded Age

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The concept of morality is commonly believed to be a byproduct of religion with “[n]early half of Americans believ[ing] that morality is impossible without belief in god” (Pyysiäinen 44). Yet, the correlation between the two seems to be less concrete with research showing that “[c]ountries with high rates of religiosity tend to have higher rates of homicide, juvenile mortality (including suicide), sexually transmitted diseases and adolescent pregnancy, and abortion ( 45). Moreover, a study evaluated by Pyysiäinen finds that “religiosity has little to nothing to do with how people evaluate the goodness or badness and acceptability vs. non-acceptability of particular moral judgements” (Pyysiäinen 47). Instead of religion creating morals, Broom…show more content…
As a whole, during the Gilded Age “the middle and upper-middle class seemed to be becoming, in part as a result of its wartime experience, less sensitive to the suffering and hardship of the poor” (Ginzberg 207). Subsequently, “[m]iddle-class Protestantism became increasingly defensive of privilege, insensitive to the poor, and harsh towards efforts to change from within” (Ginzberg 207). In fact, “[m]any ministers came to endorse a corporate defense of property and expressed hostility to labor organizing” and it was believed that in no place “did the business spirit find greater favor than in the Protestant church” (Ginzberg 207). Similarly, Carter finds that the Gilded Age “was a time when the gospel of Christ was felt to be in full harmony with the Gospel of Wealth” (Ginzberg 207 fix citation). Had it been religion that shaped the morals of the people during the Gilded Age then the protestant church still would have reflected the same “self giving love seen in Christ” (Latourette 83) that christianity was built on. Instead, as those during the time period became consumed by business and affluence the morals encouraged by the church shifted to fit contemporary views. Thus, exemplifying that during the nineteenth century it was not religion that shaped the public's morals but was…show more content…
Denominations in America date back to when “many people immigrated to the colonies in the early years…[and] they brought with them their churches and denominations” (Rhodes 14). Once in the Americas, “these various churches took on an American flavor and adapted to fit in with American society” and in many of these cases “churches split off from a parent denomination because of differences in belief” (Rhodes 14). Churches continued to branch off into new denominations and each have “some distinct beliefs and histories” (Rhodes 18). For religions such as Protestantism “the work of several influential christian leaders gave rise to new denominations” (Rhodes 18). Therefore, had religion been the reason why people had certain morals then there would be no reason for new denominations to be formed. The fact that there are so many denominations and the number continues to grow exemplifies the impact that pre-existing morals have on the religions that people chose to participate in or chose to create. Ultimately, since those who came to the colonies were able to conform their religions to fit in with American society it cannot be totally irrational to conclude that the same can be done to fit with pre-existing morals. It is not necessarily a negative thing that people allow the morals that they already
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