Bruce argues that religion can be a force for both progressive and regressive social change. Progressive usually means making society better by taking on more modern views, while regressive means making society better by re-kindling traditional values.
Our example of progressive social change given by Bruce, is Martin Luther King Jr’s Civil Rights Movement. The purpose of this movement was to end the discrimination against against black people in America. Now MLK was a reverend’s son, and then he became one himself, but the significance of it is that his religion influenced his form of protest. He approached social change in a peaceful manner.
The influence of religion is further shown by the role the church played within the movement. It became a safe place for the black community – or anyone, to be frank – to express political dissent (a view that goes against the generally accepted political view). Due to the common belief that the Church is meant to be an unbiased, fair institution, it became a place where most negotiations took place. It was also extremely successful at gaining support from across America through successful campaigning.
The Civil Rights Movement did successfully end the segregation and persucution towards black people in America. Bruce believes that this is because their campaig was based upon the universal America belief that “all men are born equal before God” And because we all love it, here is that famous speech…
On the other hand, there is the New Christan Right which is an example of regressive social change. The New Christian Right are a politically and morally conservative Protestant fundamentalist movement that seeks to take America ” back to God” and away from godless, spineless leaders [that] have brought our nation floundering to the brink of death.”They believed that:
- Creationism should be taught in schools rather than evolution
- Instead of sex education, kids should be taught abstinence before marriage
- They were very ANTI-CHOICE!
If you haven’t guessed already, they were not very successful and this was mainly because they did not connect with mainstream beliefs. America is all about the freedom of choice…