Religions of the Americas 9/14/2012 5:24:00 AM
Important Factors Which Contributed to our America
Colonialism (Why was Spain/Britain in America at all?)
Slavery (Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade)
Hybridity (The joining of multiple religions/Cultures to make one
single melting pot of cultures/religions)
- Continues still today when a new culture comes in close contact
Studying Religions in the “Americas”
First attempts at trying to get to Asia without having to go through
the Ottoman Empire was by the Portuguese in the 1400‟s.
They attempted to Sail down and around Africa.
They encountered a flourishing slave trade in Africa.
Europeans developed a race based slave trade by associating the
African slave trade with African‟s themselves.
Columbus goes to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to fund his
They funded Columbus so he could help them spread Catholicism all
across the world.
When Columbus discovered a new world with new people it made
Ferdinand and Isabella more interested with the incentive to
convert these new people to Christianity.
Between 3-10 Million Indigenous people living in America.
50 distinct languages
Europeans had a barrier between everyday life and Religion. The
indigenous people of the America‟s did not.
This led the Europeans to think that the Indigenous had no religion
at all and that they were
a.)open to new religions
b.)children of the devil Indigenous saw the physical world as the spiritual world.
Disagreed with the Catholic church on a number of issues such as
the selling of Indulgences and the corruption within the hierarchy of
Never wanted to start his own sect of Christianity.
Argued that the sole ruler over Christianity should be the Bible, not
Priests or bishops.
Felt everyone deserved to read the Bible.
Printing press is invented and the masses begin to read the Bible
and interpret it themselves without the priest‟s telling them how to
John Calvin believed that you could not save yourself. It was
predetermined whether or not you were bound for heaven.
When Europeans attempt to convert indigenous Americans to
Christianity there are many types of Christianity which they can be
converted to and the rulers are also worried about what type of
Christianity they are converted to.
Why Europe is in America:
Fighting the Muslims in the holy land
Indigenous people are either open or heathens
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade:
Process of Europeans going to Africa, kidnapping Africans,
transporting them to the New World and using them as slaves in
Began with the Portuguese explorations of Africa.
Majority of Slaves came from the region in and around Nigeria.
Millions of people brought to the Americas.
Were brought in horrific conditions.
Most of the colonies in the Caribbean were only there to collect
resources and send them back to Europe. The plantations were run
by slaves and the islands were populated by the indigenous. North America:
Most of the colonies in North America were settlement colonies.
(Colonies meant to create towns of people who were moving away
Only 5% of all slaves taken during the slave trade ended up in
North America. Most ended up in the Caribbean, Cuba and Haiti.
A development of a musical religions develop out of the slaves
Britain and the United States officially ban the Slave Trade.
Slavery did not end until the Civil War
Lecture: September 28
We believe that written history is true and we do not think that it
could not be.
When we look at indigenous life and religion before contact we look
at texts written after contact. This could mean the accuracy is not
good or the observers wrongly observed the indigenous.
World is animated by a number of persons, not just human
persons. They are persons in the sense that they have spirits and
they can make contact.
They share a sense of kinship in the way that we are related to our
other family members. (Grandmother earth, Grandfather sky, etc.)
Certain people can communicate with these other persons.
Totems are the guardians of a group. Often they are animals but
they can also be plants.
Relationship to the animal or plant which is their totem becomes
sacred. They will not kill it except in a festival in which they ingest
it to become closer to the being.
These ways was seen by the European Christians as demonic. European indigenous people have animalistic traditions as well.
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1964)
Shamans are those who can communicate with the different spirits
on the other plains.
They can do this through the trances or altered states of
They reached this state through multiple methods.
- Drugs (hallucinogens)
- Spirit walkers
Became Shamans by an illness which brings you very close to
death. Often a strange illness which not everyone understands.
Specific civilization conquered by the Spanish
Took over many other tribes in the area to create the Aztec Empire
Had a set of Gods, beyond just living in the land.
Gods created the world to provide a world for the humans to live.
World was created through the Gods sacrifices.
Humans need to reciprocate to pay homage to the God‟s sacrifice.
Humans need to sacrifice themselves to the Gods.
Deities were typically paired male and female.
Introduction of Catholicism:
Was not difficult for Aztecs to follow Christianity seeing that it is
revolved around a God who sacrificed himself. Problem was having no God the mother. They look to the Virgin
Mary as their Goddess.
Aztecs studying Catholicism helped create the stories of the Virgin
A people made up of many tribes.
Developed civilization created by tribes which have come together
to create one.
Not nomadic, farmers. They would however cultivate the land and
then move on to a new place with fresh land.
By 1600‟s 90% of their population had been decimated by disease
from European settlers.
Became involved in the fur trade with European traders.
Unlike the Incas and Aztec people, the Algonquin people were much
more animalistic and were less interested in creating pantheons of
When they referred to their powerful being they referred to it as
Europeans either saw the Manitou as demons or Gods.
Jesus and God can be Manitou but the river cannot be Manitou.
This was a problem to those who were converted over to
This is used still today in the Huron Carol (Christmas song)
- Song written in 1643 by a Jesuit Missionary who was living with
1.) Why is it problematic to rely on textual accounts of indigenous religions
for understanding pre-contact traditions?
What is animism?
Where does the term „shaman‟ come from? What does it represent?
What is the relationship between Tonantzin and / or Pachamama and the
What is mestizo culture? Lecture Four: Judaism
Judaism is the earliest of the monotheistic religions
Columbus has crew members who were Jewish converted to
Christianity through the Spanish system for political purposes.
As more and more Spanish and Portuguese Jews were expelled they
began to come to the Americas to avoid the persecution for their
religion. They also went to Holland.
These Jews coming to America were a group called Sephardim.
This was one of the two groups of Jewish people in this era, the
Sephardim and the Ashkenazi (Northern Europe)
The Ashkenazi develop the language of Yiddish.
Sephardim come to America from being kicked out of Spain and
New Amsterdam (New York City) became their main city.
After 1820 some Ashkenazi begin coming to America from Germany
because of hardships they‟re facing there.
In the late 1800‟s and early 1900‟s a third wave of Jews comes to
America. More Ashkenazi coming from Eastern Europe.
Fourth wave of Jewish Immigration during and at the end of WWII.
What are Jewish people bringing to America?
Henotheism is when you‟re devoted to one God but you believe that
other people have other Gods.
Judaism started as a Henotheistic religion and slowly changed to
Monotheistic to follow the story of Abraham and Yahweh
Christianity develops from this.
God created the world and created the people of Israel
They‟re waiting for the Messiah who will bring them the to the
Kingdom of God.
Judaism within America
Religion is going to explain or put some order to life. Community is very important
When the world becomes more modern, Judaism becomes more
secular and personal as science begins to explain parts of the world
previously unknown. (Kosher laws says we‟re not allowed to eat
pork but science shows us there is nothing wrong with it)
A reform movement begins to respond due to modernity.
Anything seen as magical in their story is seen as metaphoric.
Another modern movement that happens due to this reform is the
Orthodox movement. They were not happy that Judaism was being
reformed and that they were not following the will of God by
Orthodox movement maintains Hebrew while the other sects do not
to become more modernized.
The Orthodox Jews claim that they are maintaining the long history
of Judaism from the moment of creation.
The conservative Jewish tradition is the most common tradition. It
follows the traditional law on some levels. It wants to keep the
ritual as close to the original as possible, but allows some
modernization. (Can work on Sabbath, the way they dress)
Movement in 1930 called reconstructionalism, people practice the
ritual or the original religion and learn to speak Hebrew like their
Ultra Orthodox Jews believe that unless you‟re ultra Orthodox
you‟re not Jewish at all.
Jewish Renewal Movement
Shapes a kind of Judaism which will be appealing to a large variety
A more free-thinking way to Judaism
Makes Judaism more appealing to modernized Americans while
Christianity and Modernity
Pentecostalism/Charismatic Movement Movement started to reach a modern day Pentecost
Pentecost was a biblical story where many people were gifted with
things such as speaking in tongues by the holy spirit.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Speaking in tongues
Discerning of Spirits
Power of Healing
The moment was open to all races
Made it very popular to African Americans i