Sunday, July 8, 2018

Reflection on Stephen McBride Lecture at Chautauqua Institution by Theresa Rabbia

From the very formation of this nation, religious freedom has been a fundamental aspect of the growth and prosperity of the United States and the people who make it up. All the different denominations and religions as a whole are something that I personally think makes the American Identity so special. Dr. Spencer McBride seemed to share the same sentiments through his most recent lecture at Chautauqua. Dr. McBride brought up Western New York specifically in regard to its vast religious diversity. He traced this back all the way to the 2nd Great Awakening in the 19th century when there was a dramatic migration to Western New York and rates of conversion skyrocketed, this is coined as the “Burned-over district.” As young people began to migrate to Western New York and its surrounding areas their families worried about the possibility of their faith being left behind as well. Thus, many missionaries of all different denominations were sent to this area in order to remind people of their faith. As Dr. McBride covered much more information, this is something that struck me. During my stay at Chautauqua, it has become obvious to me that the people here are very diverse religiously, given all of the different denominational houses throughout the institution. However, I have never once felt unwelcomed here which to me shows that diversity makes a community stronger as well as the American Identity in a much larger picture.

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