Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism

By McGarvie, Mark Douglas | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism


McGarvie, Mark Douglas, The Catholic Historical Review


American Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism. By Chris Beneke. (New York: Oxford University Press. 2006. Pp. xii, 305.)

In this, Professor Beneke's first book, Americans of the colonial and early republic eras come to embrace diversity in religion as a means of transforming their discrete societies into a unified republic rooted in majority rule. In describing this progression, the author consistently recognizes the importance of belief to early Americans. Homogeneity of religious belief, values, and practices within localities or regions served as the basis of community in colonial America. Diversity threatened not only American communitarianism, but also the possibility of united colonies. Therefore, the growth of toleration was a significant development, and served as the basis upon which to establish a new and larger community during the Revolutionary era.

Beneke's text is exceptionally well written, exhaustively researched, and modestly argued. It begins with a concise, yet rich depiction of the religious absolutism present in Colonial America. Intolerance was rooted in an absolute belief in one truth and in the acceptance of God's directive to spread that truth. Colonies were formed as enclaves of like believers protected by civic and church laws. "Within such a context, dissent was more than wrong. It was seditious" (p. 22). However, as the seventeenth century passed, Americans found that an increasingly diverse population compelled changes in behavior and attitudes. Toleration, as "an instrument of prudent statecraft," was reinforced by a "radical political ideology known as liberalism that asserted 'liberty of conscience' as an individual right" (p. 32). Later in the eighteenth century Americans came to "the radical conviction that true liberty of conscience could only be experienced through public discussion" (p. 43). The growth of printed materials disseminating dissenting views, "irreverence for authority and disdain for formal distinctions" explain the rapid rise of tolerant perspectives prior to the Revolution (p. 51). Beneke sees the Great Awakening as fostering the growth of ecumenism by challenging traditional religious authorities and accepting all expressions of genuine faith rooted in Christian concepts as ultimately different forms of the same truth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.