Saturday, 10 March 2012

Religion and Identity: The Brethren Church

The Brethren Church is a Christian denomination originating from Germany. Its teachings come from the New Testament and follows Jesus’ creed. The Brethren Church work to promote simplicity and an easier way of living. In 1882 the Brethren leader Henry Holsinger organized the Brethren Church in Dayton Ohio, and took control of Ashland College, which is still around today. The Brethren members are mainly in the Midwest in states such as: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, which is not surprising as there was a large German immigrant population in these states.

The Brethren Church is located in Ashland Ohio, where the old leader first set up the church. This shows the continuing of ideas as they have kept the same location for so many centuries. It still appears to promote a simpler way of living, because their website is easily accessible and with a simple design.

All members of staff of the Brethren Church based in Ohio are all married with children and this promotes the idea of the nuclear family life in America, and shows that it is a prominent part of the American identity in terms of faith. It also shows that by leading by example, the staff can be looked up to as representations of what the Brethren Church believes. This links in to one of their five core value beliefs, relational, which is the value of loving god, each other and their neighbours. This in turn goes back to America’s identity of being an example to the rest of the world and a “city on a hill”.

Interestingly, the Brethren advocate working together, something that goes against the individualist nature of the American identity; and in some ways this notion of working together is a sign that the Brethren denomination derives from Europe and is not inherently American. Another interesting note is that the Brethren say they take their teachings from solely the New Testament, stating they have “no creed but the New Testament”, but then they use passages from the Old Testament to support their views on social issues such as homosexuality.

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