|For those who wish to listen to information on the world’s religions here is a listing of PODCASTS on RELIGIONS by Cynthia Eller. If you have iTunes on your computer just click and you will be led to the listings.
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=117762189&s=143441 Here is a link to the site for the textbook REVEALING WORLD RELIGIONS related to which these podcasts were made. http://thinkingstrings.com/Product/WR/index.html
Beginning in the 18th century, Shinto was revived as an important national religion through the writings and teachings of a succession of notable scholars, including Mabuchi, Motoori Norinaga, and Hirata Atsutane. Motivated by nationalistic sentiments that took the form of reverence for Japanese antiquity and hatred for ideas and practices of foreign origin, these men prepared the way for the disestablishment of Buddhism and the adoption of Shinto as the state religion. In 1867 the shogunate was overthrown, and the emperor was restored to the head of the government. According to revived Shinto doctrine, the sovereignty of the emperor was exercised by divine right through his reputed descent from the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, who is considered the founder of the Japanese nation. Related beliefs included the doctrines that the Japanese were superior to other peoples because of their descent from the gods, and that the emperor was destined to rule over the entire world. Until the defeat of Japan in World War II, these beliefs were of the utmost importance in assuring popular support for the military expansion of the Japanese Empire.
III. Contemporary Shinto
Before 1946 Shinto took two forms: State, or Shrine, Shinto, a patriotic nationalistic cult, identified with and financially supported by the imperial Government; and Sectarian Shinto, a general term for a number of sects founded by private persons and based on various interpretations of traditional Shinto. State Shinto, as the official government cult, theoretically embodied the religious beliefs of the entire Japanese people, and the number of its adherents was counted as the total population of the empire. The cult centered on a great profusion of shrines in all parts of the country, ranging from small wayside chapels commemorating local spirits and families to great national sanctuaries, such as the Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, dedicated to the spirits of soldiers who had died in battle for Japan. In 1946, during the American occupation of Japan following World War II, the cult was completely separated from the state by order of General Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander for the Allied powers. Government financial support of State Shinto was eliminated, the former practice of teaching cult doctrines in the schools was abolished, and the use of Shinto symbols for nationalistic purposes was forbidden. At the same time the emperor issued a statement renouncing all claims to divinity.
Sectarian Shinto, a religion of the same status as Buddhism and Christianity, was unaffected by these changes. At the present time it comprises 13 major and numerous minor sects. The principal sects are divided into 5 main groups: those that continue with little modification the traditions of ancient Shinto; those that emphasize adherence to Confucian ethics; those that are predominantly devoted to faith healing; those that practice the worship of mountains; and those that are primarily devoted to purification rites. In the early 1990s more than 110 million Japanese participated in the various Shinto sects, but those who professed Shinto as their sole or major religion numbered only about 3.4 million. The Shinto sects have approximately 101,000 priests and about 81,000 shrines. One of the most authoritative works on the subject is Shinto: The Way of Japan (1965) by the American educator and clergyman Floyd H. Ross.