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Religion in American Life, A Short History…

Religion in American Life, A Short History

by Jon Butler, Randall Balmer, Grant Wacker

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This book falls short of being a one volume history of religion in America. It admirably covers the history of Protestant denominations in the United States from the colonial era through the present. There are some discussions of Roman Catholic and Jewish groups, and sporadic mention of African American religious developments, Muslims, and all other traditions. But in terms of bringing these disparate groups together into a larger narrative of the development of religion in America (or even religion's role in shaping American culture and politics), there is much left out of the story.

Ultimately, I was disappointed by the narrow focus on Protestant denominations and men, and by the limited synthesis of the field of religious history. With studies of Muslim slaves in the America South, the involvement of women and African Americans in many of the earliest religious movements, and the role of immigrants in fashioning the religious traditions in the U.S., I guess I just expected more of that scholarship to appear in an "overview" style history. Even the book's stated goal of showing how religion has been "at the heart of the American experience itself" (xiii) was often implicitly covered rather than explicitly explored and defined. ( )
  featherby | Sep 20, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jon Butlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Balmer, Randallmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Wacker, Grantmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195158245, Hardcover)

Accessible and wide-ranging, Religion in American Life illuminates the rich spiritual heritage central to nearly every event in American history. Jon Butler begins by describing the state of religious affairs in both the Old and New Worlds on the eve of colonization. He traces the progress of religion in the colonies through the time of the American Revolution, covering all the religious groups in the colonies: Protestants, Jews, Catholics, as well as the unique religious experiences of Native Americans and African Americans.
Grant Wacker continues the story with a fascinating look at the ever-shifting religious landscape of 19th-century America. He focuses on the rapid growth of evangelical Protestants-Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and others-and their competition for dominance over religions such as Catholicism and Judaism, which continued to increase with large immigrant arrivals from Ireland, Eastern Europe, and other countries.
The 20th century saw massive cultural changes. Randall Balmer discusses the effects industrialization, modernization, and secularization had on new and established religions. He examines Protestants, Hindus, Jews, New Age believers, Mormons, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, and many more, providing a clear look into the kaleidoscope of religious belief in modern-day America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:27 -0400)

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A history of America's spiritual heritage discusses Protestants, Hindus, Jews, New Age believers, Mormons, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, and many more to provide a clear look into the kaleidoscope of religious belief in modern-day America.

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