The United States is no stranger to the Catholic subculture

The United States is no stranger to the Catholic subculture. In fact, according to a study by PEW Research Center, 20.8% of Americans are Catholic (“Religion in America”). Being Catholic is very different from any other religion found in the United States. The subculture of Catholicism distances itself from the dominant culture of other religions in the United States by enforcing its’ strict policies, enhancing its’ material and non-material cultural aspects, and by the ways in which its’ followers are ranked.
Catholicism has many material cultural aspects to it which can be defined as the physical objects with symbolic value that help contribute to the culture (Sociology 1001, Lecture 5, Culture I). Some of the most commonly known objects associated with Catholicism include the crucifix and the eucharist. The crucifix is a symbol only used in the Catholic religion. Most other religions prefer to use only a cross, but Catholics aspire to create an image that depicts a more spiritual and visual impact. It is utilized to show the sacrifice Jesus took to motivate others in following him on his journey, and a constant reminder of how Catholics should make sacrifices in order to better their relation to the church and Jesus himself (Dohogne). In Catholicism the eucharist symbolizes the body and blood of Christ while other religions have different meanings (“Religions”). The Catholic religion encourages followers to receive the eucharist at least once a week during mass, while the dominant culture believes it should be admitted less frequently. As a result, one can come to the conclusion that the material aspects of Catholicism support the idea of it being its own subculture in the United States.
The subculture of Catholicism contains numerous non-material aspects that are used to reflect the discrepancy between the ideas and beliefs of a group of people (Ferris ; Stein 79). These aspects can be used to help distinguish Catholicism from the dominant culture of other religious followers in the United States. Catholics believe that everlasting life isn’t earned by faith alone, but rather has to be earned by following Jesus’ and God’s teachings (“Central Characteristics of Roman Catholicism”). One of Jesus’ most well-known scriptures is the seven sacraments. The sacrament of Reconciliation also known as the sacrament of confession allows for followers to be forgiven for their past sins by talking face to face with a priest about the sins they have committed since their last confession. It allows for Catholics to experience a sense of purity and happiness after, while also swaying them from committing further sin in the future. The dominant culture also incorporates the use of confession, but in their own distinctive ways. Another way the subculture of Catholicism differs from the dominant culture is through the sacrament of marriage. In Catholicism, it is thought of as unethical to have more than one wife, get a divorce, have a partner of the same sex, or have a spouse that has not yet be baptized into the Catholic church community. Recently the norm of traditional lifelong marriage has evolved drastically. Divorce rates in the United States have skyrocketed to 40-50%, while gay marriage has become legalized throughout the United States (Buckingham and Harrington). Overall the non-material cultural aspects of Catholicism are one of the main reasons that it remains a distinct subculture in the United States.
The sanctions that are carried out by Catholics are very distinct from the mainstream religion throughout the United States. The ways in which these sanctions are carried out is through the readings in the bible and other Catholic religious readings. Some of the most well-known formal norms in Catholicism include the ten commandments and the seven sacraments. They are used to persuade Catholics to become better people and become more involved in their religion. This is done by providing rules like going to mass at least once a week and on holy days like Christmas and Easter. Another rule found in Catholicism is the process of giving up something that is harmful to oneself either emotionally or physically for a forty-day period lasting from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday after Easter. However, in Catholicism not all sanctions are written. There are some informal norms that are followed including dipping your fingers in holy water and then blessing yourself by making the sign of a cross when walking into mass. The sanctions found throughout Catholicism further exploit the gap between being Catholic and being part of the dominant culture.
The process of becoming a Catholic can be very lengthy, but the wait and time spent it is worth it. Anyone over the age of seven must be accepted into the Catholic community by the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults also known as Order of Christian Initiation for Adults. In addition, they must receive the three sacraments which are the acceptance of the Eucharist, confirmation, and baptism. Anyone under the age of seven must be baptized and will receive the Eucharist and be confirmed later on in their journey (“How to Become a Catholic”).
Throughout the United States, religious followers have a very biased opinion on Catholicism. Most people think that Catholicism has very strict policies and is meant for people of older age. They believe it’s not worth the effort it takes to be accepted into the community. Although being a Catholic can be very time consuming, the teachings that are found throughout the biblical scriptures are superior to those of other religions. They help to guide oneself towards being a better person by not committing sins, and by treating everyone with the respect they deserve no matter what race or gender they are.
Even though Catholicism is very distinct from other religions in the United States, there are also similarities. Women commonly wear and skirts that are unprovocative while men wear a collared shirt, dress shoes and a nice pair of dress pants. The general guideline following attire for mass is if you wouldn’t wear it to a job interview, don’t wear it to mass. Another similarity between Catholics and the dominant culture is abstaining from certain foods during lent. Although the ways in which they are told to do this vary, the ideology behind it is similar. Religions abstain from eating certain foods as a means of sacrifice for the god(s) that they believe in. As previously noted, there are similarities between Catholicism and other religions throughout the United States, but if you take a deeper look you will notice slight differences in their similarities.
To conclude, there remains a bold line between Catholicism and the dominant culture of religion in the United States. This bold line will continue to exist as long as Catholicism is still being preached throughout the United States. The rituals, beliefs, and symbols vary greatly from those of other religions, however these don’t make Catholisim any less legitimate. With the current and strong beliefs of all religions, these all will continue to be one of the most influential aspects of society throughout the future.