The Dangers of Religious "Freedom" Essay
In her novel, Domestic Manners of the Americans, Fanny Trollope makes a bold statement on the affairs of the new found country and its inhabitants. Of particular distaste to the author was the spectacle of evangelical religious practices. She made much, throughout her writing, over the role that the various religions played in the lives of the citizens and the fact that the division of the churches was a real problem in America.The consuming role that religion and "church" played in the lives of the women also concerned and intrigued Trollope.Likewise, the English woman's view of the popular evangelical camp meetings and the activities there were highly critical. She viewed this toxic environment in the light of her stolid English back ground and was convinced that it would be the undoing of the young nation and its citizens.
Trollope makes no secret of the fact that she believes that the lack of a single national religion in America was at the root of a very real problem.With so many different religious groups being allowed to practice, there could be no common government of the church that would insure that the leaders would be knowledgeable and learned men.
"…this does not prevent my seeing that the object of all religious
observance is better obtained when the government of the church
is confided to the wisdom and experience of the most venerated
among the people, than when it is placed in the hands of every
tinker and tailor who chooses to claim a share in it." (85)
She goes on to state that it also seems problematic that, since there are no set provisions for the clergy, the "services are confined to those who can pay them." (85)Fanny, in her travels through America, finds that in smaller cities and towns, the job of marrying, christening and burying are carried out by the common folk.In these places, she fears, the American citizens
"I was much struck wi…