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|Culture of Sierra|
Religion in Sierra reflects a diverse and broad range of groups and faiths, but is most predominantly expressed in Christianity, historically, the Protestant tradition. Its history rich with religious movements and developments, a significant portion of Sierrans continue to report religion as an important factor in their lives, a phenomenon unlike most other developed countries.
According to the 2010 Census, about 84% of Sierrans identified themselves as Christian, one of the highest percentages in the world, while 10% professed explicitly having no religious affiliation at all and less than 1% not disclosing a religion. In terms of church attendance however, only about 47% of Sierran Christians reported themselves attending on a "regular basis" with these numbers declining over the years. About 64% of Sierrans are affiliated or identified with any of the Protestant denominations or Evangelical movements, with the largest Protestant faiths by membership being the Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Episcopalians, and Pentecostals. Catholics constitute over 15% of the Sierran population with the majority of Sierran Catholics being members of the Roman Catholic Church. 5% of Sierrans belonged to other Christian groups including the Orthodox branch, and nontrinitarian churches including Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses. All other faiths, which include Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Canaanism collectively comprise the remaining 4.6% of Sierrans
At the Kingdom-level, the Charter for the Kingdom of Sierra does not specify any provisions related to religion other than that it relegates such matters to each of the three constituent countries. In the constituent country of Sierra, the Constitution of Sierra explicitly guarantees the freedom of religion and establishes the doctrines of secularism and separation of church and state, and prohibits the establishment of any state churches in the country. Similarly, in Hawaii, the separation of church and state is enforced through its Constitution. In the Deseret, while the Organic Act permits the exercise of any religion, it officially recognizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its state church, whose hierarchy and organization is integrated into the government itself, thus making the country a theocratic state, although the Deseret describes itself as a "theodemocracy".
|Affiliation||% of Sierra population|
|Eastern Orthodox||3.2|| |
|Other Christian||0.6|| |
Religion has had a profound influence and effect in Sierra throughout its history. When Sierra was claimed as Spanish territory, its first significant development was the establishment of the Spanish mission system, a network of religious outposts operated by Franciscan Catholic priests. Aside from its purpose of cementing Spanish presence in the region, the missions were created specifically to spread the Catholic faith and Spanish culture onto the local natives, many of whom who were forcibly converted into the Church. New Holland, which remained outside of Spanish detection for nearly the entirety of its existence, promoted its own state church, the Dutch Reformed Church. The Russian Orthodox Church also had a presence in northern Sierra at the Russian outpost of Fort Ross.
Although Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1822 and completely secularized and dissolved the Spanish mission system by the 1830s, Catholicism remained an important aspect of life in Sierra. One major requirement for foreigners to live in Mexico as a citizen was to convert to Catholicism. However, the majority of settlers who came into Sierra were Protestants from Brazoria and the United States. Refusing to comply with the religious requirement, illegal Protestant churches and prayer groups were formed, much to the ire of Mexican authorities. Following Sierra's own independence from Mexico in 1848, both the Republic and the Kingdom included religious liberty in their respective constitutions, a legacy derived from the history of religious freedom in the United States. By the late 1850s, Protestants had outnumbered Catholics 6 to 1, with most of the Catholics being the Californios who had lived under Mexican rule. The gold rush the nation experienced in 1849 brought a wider variety of foreigners from all regions of the world. Consequently, new faiths were introduced, most prominently Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Shintoism from Asian immigrants.
The Kingdom of Sierra was founded as a secular state which lacked a state church and was consciously committed to religious pluralism, although an active movement during the Kingdom's infancy to create a Protestant state church exited and lasted up until the 1870s. While the Constitution of Sierra prohibited the federal government from establishing a state religion or church, it is silent on whether or not if provinces have the power to create their own churches. In addition, through several cases overseen by the Supreme Court, the Court has consistently viewed that the lack of any prohibition meant that establishing a state church was an unenumerated, prerogative right of the provinces. However, only four provinces: Clark, Maricopa, Plumas, and Shasta, have ever passed laws establishing a church, and all four official churches have since lost such political status by 1921 (when the Church of Clark, a Methodist church, declared independence from the provincial government).
In 1950, through the establishment of the Charter, it separated the Kingdom of Sierra and Sierra as two distinct entities, where the Charter would apply to both, but the Constitution would only apply to the latter. Since the Charter itself had none of the protections enshrined in the Constitution, including the freedom of religion and separation of church and state, such provisions would need to be implemented in the other two constituent states (Hawaii and the Deseret) for such protections to hold de facto prevalence across the Kingdom. While Hawaii adopted the same religious protection measures as the Sierran constitution had, the Deseret did not and made The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as its official church. Since then, the Church and government has been inseparable, with the President of the Deseret also functioning as the President of the LDS Church. Despite countless of constitutional cases challenging the legality of such union, the Supreme Court has upheld the official union between the Deseret government and the Church.
In all three countries, the freedom to exercise and practice any religion or none is guaranteed by each of the national constitutions, with guaranteed protections for all religious organizations which are recognized by the governments as a valid form of faith. In Sierra and the Deseret, no public office may require religious tests as a prerequisite or determinant of eligibility for prospective candidates or officials. In the Deseret, through the Lehite Code, most political posts are exclusively open to Mormons, as officials must be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in order to assume and maintain office. Although religious civil liberty is extensive, it is by no means, absolute. Through the years, the Supreme Court has declared that although the spectrum of beliefs, no matter how extreme, may not be infringed upon, the extent of practices can be curbed. For instance, although an individual may be free to believe that human sacrifice is an acceptable form of observing their faith, they are free to do so, but they cannot act upon such belief solely due to their faith.
While most religious organizations enjoy tax-exemption status, some religious bodies have been denied such privilege by the government, primarily due to the latter not recognizing such organizations as religious in nature. The most prominent case is the Church of Scientology, which the Sierran government has consistently denied tax-exempt status to on the basis that the organization is a business, and not a religion. In the 1998 landmark case Gonzalez v. Church of Scientology, the Court made a distinction between Scientology and the Church of Scientology, which declared the former a systematic body of beliefs and practices (and thus a religion), while the latter was an organization that was Scientologist in nature but failed the Hölderlin test (a four-prong threshold test used in Sierran courts to determine the validity of what constitutes as a religion or religious organization). It ruled that while governments cannot limit or prohibit religions or beliefs, it could for religiously-based organized bodies, which in this case, was the Church of Scientology, which in the Court's view, operated more closely to a private enterprise, and was thus, denied tax-exemption.
In Sierra, despite enforcing secularism, there are clear Judeo-Christian roots and connections underpinning the system. For instance, most public offices require an oath to be taken, many of which may include the phrase, "So help me God", or similar iterations, although the inclusion of such references to God are completely optional. In addition, references to a general creator-God are mentioned within the Constitution, and in other public documents. Public officials and bodies, irrespective of faith, have often used the expression, "God bless Sierra" or "God save the Queen" to convey goodwill and patriotism. Christmas and Easter, two Christian holidays, have official status as public holidays in the Kingdom, although other religious groups are permitted to take days off on their holy days.
By far the largest religion in Sierra, Christianity accounts for the majority of Sierrans (84.4% of the population). Of the Christians, 63.7% of Sierrans in 2010 self-identified themselves as Protestant, 15.5% as Catholics, 3.2% as Eastern Orthodox, 1.4% as Mormon, and the remaining 0.6% were affiliated with another Christian denomination, or nondenominational. Christianity had always been prominent in Sierran culture, and was introduced into the Americas through European colonization. Although early Sierran history was denominated by Catholicism, Protestantism eventually emerged as the prevailing religious tradition in the Kingdom during the mid-18th century as Anglophones immigrated into Sierra (then known as California, and displaced the local Hispanophone Catholics.
The majority of Sierran Christians attend church infrequently, with only about 49% polled reporting church attendance on a weekly or monthly basis, although up to 90% attend at least once a year (generally for Christmas and/or Easter services). However, compared to most other developed nations, religiosity and weekly attendance among Sierran Christians is higher than elsewhere in Anglo-America and in Europe. In 2010, 58% stated that religion was "very important" to them.
According to most historians, the consensus holds that Protestantism has an inextricable link with Sierran culture and history. Protestant churches, leaders, and adherents have been involved with all aspects of Sierran politics, businesses, entertainment, technology, arts, music, and science. The majority of Sierran prime ministers, legislators, judges, and governors have Protestant backgrounds, and most of the country's leading corporations, institutes of higher education, and health care systems have been founded by Protestant denominations or individuals.
Historically, Protestantism was introduced into Sierra during the Anglo-American immigration into the region, then-known as California under the rule of Catholic Mexico. Settlers brought along with their various Protestant traditions, among them, the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Anglicans (as Episcopalians) into the Kingdom, keeping them in defiance of official Mexican policy which demanded immigrants to adopt Catholicism as their official religion as one of the prerequisites to qualify for legal residency and citizenship.
Following the Mexican-American War and the independence of Alta California as the Republic, the Protestants outnumbered Catholics four to one, and by the time the Kingdom was established, Protestants constituted as much as 85% of the country's population. In both California, and then Sierra, the national constitutions upheld religious freedom and plurality, which were adapted from earlier Anglo-American documents and practices in Protestant-majority nations. Protestant clergymen and religious leaders held an immense influence over national politics in the emerging kingdom, and were represented in virtually every political organization and party. While immigration from outside America initially saw larger numbers of Catholics (particularly the Irish and Southern Europeans), the massive influx of Asian immigrants were comprised of individuals who were more receptive to Protestantism thanks to proactive missionary efforts construed by evangelical leaders.
The development of charity networks, private Christian schools, and social clubs encouraged the spread of Protestantism to non-Christian immigrant groups. Aside from numbers, Protestants were better-equipped in converting immigrants for economic and political factors. Protestant Sierrans tended to be more affluent than their Catholic counterparts, and were more likely to live in the suburbs, rather than the city, and were therefore more tolerant of ethnic minorities who typically did not work similar jobs or live in the same area of the middle-class Sierrans. Most Catholic immigrants were Irish who saw the other immigrants as competition for low-pay jobs. Consequently, Protestantism was heavily involved in mending the Sierran Cultural Revolution, and was identified as the "Western" aspect of Sierran neo-culture by Mark Culler in his book, Comparison of Western and Oriental Thought, and was the choice faith for Asian-Sierran converts.
Protestantism consistently played a conscious and perpetual force in Sierran politics, often being closely tied with social conservatism. While Catholics were evenly split between Democratic-Republicans and Royalists, Protestants, which the notable exception of Styxers, were overwhelmingly Royalists, despite inadvertently backing a predominantly Catholic monarchy. Even among Democratic-Republican Protestants, most are conservative Styxiecrats, and have more readily supported social positions on tradition, marriage, and abortion compared to other religious groups as a whole.
In face of the emergent progressive movement that arose during the 1960s which was antithetical to the traditional Protestant culture, religious Protestants mobilized politically during the 1970s and 1980s, and formed the bulwark of the Moral Right movement. Conservative Protestants dominated the Sierran national and provincial level during this later stage in the Cold War. During these two decades, Protestantism in Sierra underwent a radical transformation as it saw the rise of the modern Christian evangelical movement, the development of right-wing Christian fundamentalism, and stronger ecumenism between different Protestants, and with Catholics and Jews as well.