The Democratization of American Christianity

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 1989 - Religion - 312 pages
25 Reviews
The half century following the American Revolution witnessed the transformation of American Christianity. In this book Nathan O. Hatch offers a provocative reassessment of religion and culture in the young republic, arguing that during this period American Christianity was democratized and common people became powerful accors on the religious scene. The passion for equality, says Hatch, brought about a crisis or religious authority in popular culture, introduced new and popular forms of theology, witnessed the rise of minority religious movements, reshaped preaching, singing, and publishing, and became a scriptural foundation for nineteenth-century American individualism. Hatch examines five distinct traditions or mass movements that emerged early in the nineteenth century - the Christian movement, the Methodists, the Baptists, the black churches, and the Mormons. Each was led by young men of relentless energy who went about movement building as self-conscious outsiders, However diverse their theologies and church organizations. Hatch points out, they all offered the unschooled and unsophisticated compelling visions of individual potential and collective aspiration. More effectively than religious movements in other modern industrial societies, these denominations embraced people without regard to social standing and challenged them to think, interpret Scripture, and organize the church for themselves. The religious populism that resulted remains among the oldest and deepest impulse in American life.
  

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Review: The Democratization of American Christianity

User Review  - Greg Coates - Goodreads

Superb analysis of an often overlooked era of American religion (1780-1830) and the populist, democratic movements that animated the age. Though Hatch's class-based analysis will certainly alienate ... Read full review

Review: The Democratization of American Christianity

User Review  - Chris Griffith - Goodreads

Excellent survey of early American Christianity, cultural shifts of religious life, and the rejection of Calvinism among a populist leadership and laity. Read full review

Contents

Democracy and Christianity
3
The Crisis of Authority in Popular Culture
17
Storming Heaven by the Back Door 4 9
49
Thundering Legions
67
AUDIENCE
125
The Right to Think for Oneself
162
Upward Aspiration and Democratic Dissent 103
193
The Recurring Populist
210
A Sampling of Anticlerical
227
Notes
244
Index
305
Copyright

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About the author (1989)

Hatch is Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

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