Cultural Syncretism in Africa and America
Syncretism is defined as the process where different cultures and beliefs interact and are combined and different practices are incorporated into one universal system. In religion, for instance, different beliefs may come together and may be interpreted as providing a similar meaning to both religions, and therefore revealing a basic resemblance that allows the faiths to agree. It is notable for many major religions in the world that they allow one to join irrespective of ones background as long as one accepts their teachings. This exhibits the fundamental characteristic that all scriptures view humanity as one. In China, one can not fail to notice the peaceful co-existence of the various religions that are available. Even the atheists do not seem to experience any conflicts with the believers.
Syncretism is however evident in cases such as where Christianity was contaminated by pagan concepts originating mainly from Germany. Islam in Trinidad also exhibits characteristics that are likely to have been brought about by Indian influence). However, some religions may not view themselves as syncretic, and would like to claim purity, compared to others which they view as contaminated by other religions. This creates mixed feelings about the whole syncretism concept, with some viewing it positively and others negatively.
Some Americans may have found the religious beliefs of China and India as strange, but surprisingly, with time some of the explorers incorporated them into their own religions. However, the Africans did not welcome missionary influence at all. They insisted on holding on to their native churches so hard that it is arguable that the Christian religion was forced on them by the missionaries through colonialism. By incorporating traditional practices such as polygamy, the African churches have attempted to differentiate themselves from the religion originally introduced to them.
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