Mexican Religion Shapes Culture
Throughout the world, the expansion of religion has significantly influenced the development of humanity in many different ways. Religion is an organized collection of belief and cultural systems with world views that relate humanity to spirituality and moral values (dictionary.com). Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to explain the origin of the Universe and give a convincing meaning to life. It was Hernan Cortes who first brought the Catholic Church to Mexico in 1521. His expedition, which included a friar named Bartolome de Olmedo and a priest named Juan Diaz, was mandated to convert the Indians into Christians. After the Spanish conquest, Mexico became colonized which, was helpful in the attempt to influence indigenous people to take on Catholicism. Religion has impacted Mexican societies through their culture, their surroundings and architecture, and their families. Roman Catholicism was established as the dominant, but not official, religion of Mexico. Today, about 89% of Mexicans still identify themselves by this division of Christian religion. The 2000 census reported that Mexico had some 101,000,000 Catholics among the population aged five and above. This equates to about 91% of their total population, making it the second largest Roman Catholic country in the world. The Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian church, and is its largest religious grouping. Catholicism influences people in many countries, and in Mexico this influence is no less apparent. Though not everyone in Mexico is Catholic, religion seems to maintain a social order. Mexican Catholics take the many rules of Catholicism very seriously. In the article "The Catholic Church in Mexico: Triumphs and Traumas", Shep Lencheck claims, "As of this moment the Church remains a unifying force in the private lives of Mexicans. It is the one constant in the changing and sometimes chaotic Mexican scene" (Lencheck 1). Thus, Catholicism is an ever present aspect in the lives of many Mexicans. Statistics show that almost 50 percent of Mexico's population attends weekly mass at their local church. This weekly mass isn't the only Catholic part of Mexican culture. Many ceremonies, including baptisms, confirmations, and weddings revolve around the Catholic Church. These events become more than just a religious ceremony but they are turned into a social event or community celebration with family and friends regardless the religion professed. A persons journey through religion is celebrated and all events from baptisms to weddings come with a party where religion is integrated into the social lives of many.
The majority of society is scared to act upon certain sins in fear of the unknown (Hell). In the Catholic religion it is believed that sins of great evil are mortal sins-which bring the dire consequence of going to hell if unrepented for. In the bible a fear of God is clearly demanded, "The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them," (Psalm 25:14) This states that in order to be a good Catholic, one must have a fear of God. This fear is instilled in Catholics from the moment they join the religion. They are told that in order to guarantee themselves eternal life they must have a personal covenant relationship with God. Part of this relationship includes following the rules of the religion to ensure a pathway to eternal life. Sin can also be viewed as anything that violates the ideal relationship between an individual and god. If one does not believe they will also receive consequences, "Hell will also punish the sin of those who reject Christ" (Matthew 13:41) So whether you believe or not, committing sins leads to the ultimate punishment. This fear of Hell keeps many Catholics from breaking their covenant with God. The Catholic Church holds great power over their followers. As its own...
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