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Sofia Del Aguila


Dr. Sterling
English 1301
22 November 2016
Religion Across Different Societies
Religion can be defined as a specific set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by
a number of people or groups. In the United States, religion is not pressed upon one. All people
have the freedom to choose the religion with which they would like to affiliate, or choose not to
believe in a religion at all. Religion can be an important part of society because in many
instances it gives people a purpose. In Utopia, by Thomas More, similar to the United States,
multiple religions exist all over the island and it is a very important part of society. On the other
hand in The Sleeper Awakes by H. G. Wells, religion is a small aspect of the society, at times
even viewed as a distraction. The ideal integration of religion in society holds three key aspects:
it is free to all those who choose to participate, it is not forced upon one, and all religious
affiliations are tolerated, even if one decides not to partake in any religion.
The ideal religious society holds numerous different religions, but also allows people to
choose what they believe in, similar to the society experienced by many today. People of all
different cultural backgrounds will have the opportunity to practice their religion and even share
it with those who are interested in pursuing it as well. One important aspect of many religions is
the religious leaders, for example, Priests and Rabbis. These leaders play an important role in the
spread and understanding of the religion. Although at times in the past, it has been seen that these
leaders can hold too much power within society and, at times, can use it for purposes that he or
she should not. For example, as seen on the history learning site, at one point in time, the Priests
affiliated with the Catholic Church controlled much of society. These Priests told their people

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that to get into heaven they must pay the church. Many times people had to give a tenth of their
salary and, along with that, they were forced to pay for baptisms, marriage ceremonies, and
burials on holy ground.
In The Sleeper Awakes to participate in religion, citizens must pay. There are two major
differences between religion today and religion in The Sleeper Awakes. In the book, because
religion costs money, few are able to participate. Also, the public has lost track of the purpose of
religion, instead it has become enveloped in advertising and politics. While going through the
Christian sects in London, Graham gets a sense of the major differences in religion between twohundred years earlier and the present save where a vast and glaring kinematograph
transparency presented a realistic New Testament scene, and where a vast festoon of black to
show that the popular religion followed the popular politics (Wells 161) In this quotation the
reader sees that the realistic New Testament scene is set up to tell citizens passing that their
particular religion is following and participating in politics.
The inscriptions on the walls that Graham read were appalling, many were just
advertisements stating why people should join, things such as Brisk blessings for Busy Business
Men (Wells 161) and Be a Christian without hindrance to your present occupation (Wells
161). From these quotations, it is shown how religion has changed drastically. Religion is seen
as something that takes the people away from their work. That is why they are advertising Brisk
blessing and such. Also along the inscriptions on the wall are writings such as Put your Money
on your Maker (Wells 161) and All the Brightest Bishops on the Bench to-night and Prices as
usual (Wells 161). In both of these quotations it is seen that to participate in religion, people
must pay.
Graham is shocked by the discovery of the vast changes within religion in London. He
states that he is appalled by these differences and Asano responds with Nowadays the
competition for attention is so keen, and people simply havent the leisure to attend to their souls,

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you know, as they used to (Wells 161). Asano is explaining to Graham that people have decided
that they do not have the time for religion. Therefore religion is advertised in the manner shown,
for example, Brisk blessings is just one of the multiple inscriptions that advertise that it will
not take much of the prospective followers time.
In Utopia, all religions are tolerated except atheism because it is believed to be selfish.
The Utopians believe this because with no hope for an afterlife, people will do as they please
instead of living a modest lifestyle following a certain set of rules in order to attain afterlife.
[They] all agree in this: that they think there is one Supreme Being that made and governs the
world, whom they call, in the language of their country, Mithras (More 92). At the top of the
hierarchy are the priests, even the executive must follow them. The priests of Utopia are of the
highest moral and religious character, that is why so few exist. The priests are in charge of:
educating the children, maintaining the religious centers, and praising and criticizing people for
good and bad behavior.
There are multiple differences between religion in society today and religion in Utopia.
One major difference is that the Utopians do not tolerate atheism, while in most societies today
atheism is a choice, just like joining a religion. Another difference is that in Utopia, all the
different religious services are held in the same churches and led by the same priests, even if the
services were of different religions. Because of this, all of the religions are very similar to one
another. In current society, different religions have different religious buildings associated with
them, for example Christian services are held in churches. Different religions also have different
leaders, for example Judaism is led by Rabbis.
Religion in these two novels is very different. In The Sleeper Awakes, religion
revolves around politics and to be a part of it, the public must pay. The people in The Sleeper
Awakes see religion as a time consuming and unnecessary practice. People do not want to have

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to dedicate too much of their time to religion, it is no longer important. In Utopia, religion is
highly valued; everybody must believe in one religion of the many options to choose from and
the only thing they do not tolerate is atheism. Religion in that society is led by a small group of
priests who are in charge of everybody, even the executives. The perfect religious society cannot
be found in either of these novels. The perfect religious society would have three key aspects:
religion would be free to all who choose to participate, religion would not be forced upon one,
and all religions would be tolerated.

Works Cited
"religion". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 15 Nov. 2016.
<Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/religion>.
Roman Catholic Church in 1500 - History Learning Site. History Learning Site,
www.historylearningsite.co.uk/the-reformation/roman-catholic-church-in-1500/.

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More, Thomas. Utopia. 1515. Feedbooks. 22 Nov. 2016. www.feedbooks.com/book/198/utopia.


Wells, H. G. The Sleeper Awakes. 1910. Feedbooks . 22 Nov. 2016.
www.feedbooks.com/book/593/the-sleeper-awakes..
.