REGION 5: RELIGION IN THE BREADBASKET
Not just in the middle geographically, the Midwest states of:
Oklahoma * Missouri * Nebraska * Kansas * Iowa
represent the American average in terms of faith, attitude, a belief system, and core values. This region’s religious personality matches that of the nation’s religious portrait more closely than any other region. ‘Average’, rather than meaning ‘dull or mediocre’ indicates that most every religious group and religious issue are represented in this region.
A). THE CONSTITUTION AND THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE:
*The Constitution ratified in 1788 makes no mention of religion except that no religious test is allowed for office holders. However, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1791, has played a central role in defining the relationship of the federal government to the free exercise of religion, and to the prohibition establishment of an official church. Its policies were extended to cover state governments in the 1940’s. The government is not allowed to hinder the free exercise of religion, and is not allowed to sponsor any particular religion through taxation or favors.
*The Treaty of Tripoli was a treaty concluded between the US and Tripolitania (run by the Ottoman Empire) was submitted to the Senate by President John Adams, and received ratification unanimously from the US Senate in 1797 and took effect as the law of the land. The treaty was a routine diplomatic agreement but has attracted later attention because the English version included this clause in Article 11 about religion in the United States:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Muslims, and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohammedan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
The assurances in Article 11 were ‘intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced’. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.
This Treaty was broken in 1801 due to an attack by the Ottoman Empire on Tripoli, and a new Treaty was signed in 1805 that left out the “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” sentence.
America, did in fact, consider itself a Christian nation, but the Federal Government sought to stand strong in saying that a religion would not govern its laws nor would a state religion be established.
Religion in America, however, continued to be influenced by many factors.
B). RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES IN THE MIDWEST:
*In 2016, a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute estimated that 69% of Americans are Christians.
*Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in the nation, claiming 20 states scattered mostly throughout the Midwest and South.
*Catholicism is the largest single religious denomination in the Midwest, varying between 19 and 29% of the state populations.
*Baptists compose up to 22 % in Missouri.
*Those with no religious affiliation make up 13-16 percent of the Midwest’s population.
*Catholicism took on its own brand in the Midwest, becoming more innovative and ethnically diverse.
Probably the most significant influence of the Midwest can be summed up by stating that the diversity within religious affiliations have been brought about by recent changes in immigration patterns, and the contrast between urban, suburban, and rural forms of religious expression. This is true more so within the state of the Midwest.
So, regardless of your particular beliefs, you can thank the Midwest for it’s influence on America’s religious personality. While your there, take in an old fashioned ‘hymn sing’!