978-0-19-503663-3 / 9780195036633

Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

In light of the curious compulsion to stress Protestant dominance in America's past, this book takes an unorthodox look at religious history in America. Rather than focusing on the usual "mainline" Protestant churches--Episcopal, Congregationalist, Methodist, Baptist, and Lutheran--Moore instead turns his attention to the equally important "outsiders" in the American religious experience and tests the realities of American religious pluralism against their history in Aamerica. Moore shows that, in spite of American ideals espousing religious tolerance, our nation has been surprisingly reluctant to accept the reality of religious pluralism and has viewed these outside groups with suspicion if not hostility. The book contains separate but interrelated chapters on seven influential groups of outsiders--the Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Christian Scientists, Millennialists, 20th-century Protestant Fundamentalists, and the black churches--and their contributions to American religion and society. Through these groups, Moore shows that what was going on in mainline churches may not have been the "normal" religious experience at all, and that many of these "outside" groups embodied values that were, in fact, quintessentially American. Moore finally suggests that America's religious system was in many ways designed to create cracks within the denominations and even to fuel antagonisms, and that people turned to the new religions for a sense of identity or to ease antagonisms and feelings of frustration.

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