Religion in American Life: A Short History

Religion in American Life: A Short History

Religion in American Life: A Short History

Religion in American Life: A Short History

Synopsis

This new edition of Religion in American Life, written by three of the country's most eminent historians of religion, offers a superb overview that spans four centuries, illuminating the rich spiritual heritage central to nearly every event in our nation's history. Beginning with the state of religious affairs in both the Old and New Worlds on the eve of colonization and continuing through to the present, the book covers all the major American religious groups, from Protestants, Jews, and Catholics to Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Buddhists, and New Age believers. Revised and updated, the book includes expanded treatment of religion during the Great Depression, of the religious influences on the civil rights movement, and of utopian groups in the 19th century, and it now covers the role of religion during the 2008 presidential election, observing how completely religion has entered American politics.

Excerpt

Religion—beliefs in supernatural powers, forces, and beings—powerfully shaped the peoples and society that would become the United States. That this happened in a society lacking any official national church after American independence in 1776 is one of the central themes of Religion in American Life: a Short History. This book offers a succinct and vivid account of religion’s astonishing interaction with America’s peoples, society, politics, and life from European conquest and colonization to the beginning of the twenty-first century. in America, religion would be pursued by an amazing variety of individuals and groups whose successes and failures across three centuries not only defined religion in America but America itself.

The story of religion in America thus stands at the heart of the story of America itself. It is not the story of just a few. Quite the contrary. It is a story of natives and immigrants, of the wealthy, the poor, and those in between, of women, men, and children in families and out, of powerful political movements and parties to highly introspective individuals, of dreams . . .

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