Religion in American Life: A Short History

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Oxford University Press, Dec 31, 2007 - Religion - 512 pages
2 Reviews
Perhaps surprising in a country without a national church, religion has played a powerful role in American life. Now, in the new paperback edition of Religion in American Life, three of the country's most eminent historians of religion offer a superb overview that spans four centuries, illuminating the rich spiritual heritage central to nearly every event in our nation's 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, Protestants, Jews, and 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, Muslims, New Age believers, Mormons, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, and many more, providing a clear look into the kaleidoscope of religious belief in modern-day America. Religion in American Life is an engrossing look at how religion has changed--and in turn been changed by--the extraordinary events throughout American history.

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User Review  - featherby - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

Religion in American life: a short history

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Yet another history of religion in America? And with all the flaws of previous histories? Religion in this book essentially means Protestant Christianity, with a few side glances at Judaism ... Read full review


Worlds Old and New
Religion and Missions in New Spain and New France
Religion in Englands First Colonies
The Flowering of Religious Diversity
African and American Indian Religion
Reviving Colonial Religion
Religion and the American Revolution
Prophets for a New Nation
Conservers of Tradition
Adventurers of the Spirit
A New Century
The Age of Militancy
In God We Trust
Religion in the New Frontier
Religion in an Age of Upheaval
Preachers Politicians and Prodigals

Awakeners of the Heart
Reformers and Visionaries
Restorers of Ancient Ways
Sojourners at Home
Warriors for God and Region
Fashioners of Immigrant Faiths
Innovators in a World of New Ideas
Religion for the New Millennium

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About the author (2007)

Jon Butler is Howard R. Lamar Professor of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Yale University. He is the author of Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People, Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776, and, with Harry S. Stout, editor of Religion in American History: A Reader. Grant Wacker is Professor of Church History at Duke University Divinity School. He is the author of Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture, Religion in Nineteenth Century America (OUP, 2000), and Pentecostal Currents in American Protestantism. Randall Balmer is Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Visiting Professor of American Religion at Yale University Divinity School. He is the author of ten books, including Protestantism in America and Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America (2006). His book Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fourth edition, was made into an award-winning, three-part documentary for PBS.

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