Challenging the formidable tradition that places early New England Puritanism at the center of the American religious experience, Yale historian Jon Butler offers a new interpretation of three hundred years of religious and cultural development. Butler stresses the instability of religion in Europe where state churches battled dissenters, magic, and astonishingly low church participation. He charts the transfer of these difficulties to America, including the failure of Puritan religious models, and describes the surprising advance of religious commitment there between 1700 and 1865. Through the assertion of authority and coercion, a remarkable sacralization of the prerevolutionary countryside, advancing religious pluralism, the folklorization of magic, and an eclectic, syncretistic emphasis on supernatural interventionism, including miracles, America emerged after 1800 as an extraordinary spiritual hothouse that far eclipsed the Puritan achievement--even as secularism triumphed in Europe. Awash in a Sea of Faith ranges from popular piety to magic, from anxious revolutionary war chaplains to the cool rationalism of James Madison, from divining rods and seer stones to Anglican and Unitarian elites, and from Virginia Anglican occultists and Presbyterians raised from the dead to Jonathan Edwards, Joseph Smith, and Abraham Lincoln. Butler deftly comes to terms with conventional themes such as Puritanism, witchcraft, religion and revolution, revivalism, millenarianism, and Mormonism. His elucidation of Christianity's powerful role in shaping slavery and of a subsequent African spiritual "holocaust," with its ironic result in African Christianization, is an especially fresh and incisive account. Awash in a Sea of Faith reveals the proliferation of American religious expression--not its decline--and stresses the creative tensions between pulpit and pew across three hundred years of social maturation. Striking in its breadth and deeply rooted in primary sources, this seminal book recasts the landscape of American religious and cultural history.
Three of the country's most eminent historians of religion offer here a superb overview that spans four centuries, illuminating the rich spiritual heritage central to nearly every event in our nation's history. Jon Butler traces the progress of religion in the colonies through the time of the American Revolution, covering all the religious groups, including Native Americans and African Americans. Grant Wacker continues the story with a fascinating look at the religious landscape of 19th-century America. He focuses on the rapid growth of evangelical Protestants and their competition with Catholicism and Judaism. Randall Balmer discusses the effects industrialization, modernization, and secularization had on new and established religions, providing a clear look into the kaleidoscope of religious belief in modern-day America.
Study of church and state in the United States is incredibly complex. Scholars working in this area have backgrounds in law, religious studies, history, theology, and politics, among other fields. Historically, they have focused on particular angles or dimensions of the church-state relationship, because the field is so vast. The results have mostly been monographs that focus only on narrow cross-sections of the field, and the few works that do aim to give larger perspectives are reference works of factual compendia, which offer little or no analysis. The Oxford Handbook of Church and State in the United States fills this gap, presenting an extensive, multidimensional overview of the field. Twenty-one essays offer a scholarly look at the intricacies and past and current debates that frame the American system of church and state, within five main areas: history, law, theology/philosophy, politics, and sociology. These essays provide factual accounts, but also address issues, problems, debates, controversies, and, where appropriate, suggest resolutions. They also offer analysis of the range of interpretations of the subject offered by various American scholars. This Handbook is an invaluable resource for the study of church-state relations in the United States.
Religion and Society in New York’s Early Republic Congregations
Author: Kyle T. Bulthuis
Publisher: NYU Press
Tells the diverse story of four congregations in New York City as they navigated the social and political changes of the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. In the fifty years after the Constitution was signed in 1787, New York City grew from a port town of 30,000 to a metropolis of over half a million residents. This rapid development transformed a once tightknit community and its religious experience. Including four churches belonging in various forms to the Church of England, that in some form still thrive today. Rapid urban and social change connected these believers in unity in the late colonial era. As the city grew larger, more impersonal, and socially divided, churches reformed around race and class-based neighborhoods. In Four Steeples over the City Streets, Kyle T. Bulthuis examines the intertwining of these four famous institutions—Trinity Episcopal, John Street Methodist, Mother Zion African Methodist, and St. Philip’s (African) Episcopal—to uncover the lived experience of these historical subjects, and just how religious experience and social change connected in the dynamic setting of early Republic New York. Drawing on a wide range of sources including congregational records and the unique histories of some of the churches leaders, Four Steeples over the City Streets reveals how these city churches responded to these transformations from colonial times to the mid-nineteenth century. Bulthuis also adds new dynamics to the stories of well-known New Yorkers such as John Jay, James Harper, and Sojourner Truth. More importantly, Four Steeples over the City Streets connects issues of race, class, and gender, urban studies, and religious experience, revealing how the city shaped these churches, and how their respective religious traditions shaped the way they reacted to the city. This book is a critical addition to the study and history of African American activism and life in the ever-changing metropolis of New York City.
Increasingly, the religious practices people engage in and the ways they talk about what is meaningful or sacred take place in the context of media culture—in the realm of the so-called secular. Focusing on this intersection of the sacred and the secular, this volume gathers together the work of media experts, religious historians, sociologists of religion, and authorities on American studies and art history. Topics range from Islam on the Internet to the quasi-religious practices of Elvis fans, from the uses of popular culture by the Salvation Army in its early years to the uses of interactive media technologies at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Beit Hashoah Museum of Tolerance. The issues that the essays address include the public/private divide, the distinctions between the sacred and profane, and how to distinguish between the practices that may be termed "religious" and those that may not.
Parishes, Parsons, and Parishioners in Anglican Virginia, 1690-1776
Author: John K. Nelson
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
In this book, John Nelson reconstructs everyday Anglican religious practice and experience in Virginia from the end of the seventeenth century to the start of the American Revolution. Challenging previous characterizations of the colonial Anglican establishment as weak, he reveals the fundamental role the church played in the political, social, and economic as well as the spiritual lives of its parishioners. Drawing on extensive research in parish and county records and other primary sources, Nelson describes Anglican Virginia's parish system, its parsons, its rituals of worship and rites of passage, and its parishioners' varied relationships to the church. All colonial Virginians--men and women, rich and poor, young and old, planters and merchants, servants and slaves, dissenters and freethinkers--belonged to a parish. As such, they were subject to its levies, its authority over marriage, and other social and economic dictates. In addition to its religious functions, the parish provided essential care for the poor, collaborated with the courts to handle civil disputes, and exerted its influence over many other aspects of community life. A Blessed Company demonstrates that, by creatively adapting Anglican parish organization and the language, forms, and modes of Anglican spirituality to the Chesapeake's distinctive environmental and human conditions, colonial Virginians sustained a remarkably effective and faithful Anglican church in the Old Dominion.
Jaroslav Pelikan, widely regarded as one of the most distinguished historians of our day, now provides a clear and engaging account of the Bible’s journey from oral narrative to Hebrew and Greek text to today’s countless editions. Pelikan explores the evolution of the Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic versions and the development of the printing press and its effect on the Reformation, the translation into modern languages, and varying schools of critical scholarship. Whose Bible Is It? is a triumph of scholarship that is also a pleasure to read.
African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863
Author: Graham Russell Gao Hodges
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
Category: Social Science
In this remarkable book, Graham Hodges presents a comprehensive history of African Americans in New York City and its rural environs from the arrival of the first African--a sailor marooned on Manhattan Island in 1613--to the bloody Draft Riots of 1863. Throughout, he explores the intertwined themes of freedom and servitude, city and countryside, and work, religion, and resistance that shaped black life in the region through two and a half centuries. Hodges chronicles the lives of the first free black settlers in the Dutch-ruled city, the gradual slide into enslavement after the British takeover, the fierce era of slavery, and the painfully slow process of emancipation. He pays particular attention to the black religious experience in all its complexity and to the vibrant slave culture that was shaped on the streets and in the taverns. Together, Hodges shows, these two potent forces helped fuel the long and arduous pilgrimage to liberty.
Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America
Author: J. Spencer Fluhman
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Though the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion, it does not specify what counts as a religion. From its founding in the 1830s, Mormonism, a homegrown American faith, drew thousands of converts but far more critics. In "A Peculiar People", J. Spencer Fluhman offers a comprehensive history of anti-Mormon thought and the associated passionate debates about religious authenticity in nineteenth-century America. He argues that understanding anti-Mormonism provides critical insight into the American psyche because Mormonism became a potent symbol around which ideas about religion and the state took shape. Fluhman documents how Mormonism was defamed, with attacks often aimed at polygamy, and shows how the new faith supplied a social enemy for a public agitated by the popular press and wracked with social and economic instability. Taking the story to the turn of the century, Fluhman demonstrates how Mormonism's own transformations, the result of both choice and outside force, sapped the strength of the worst anti-Mormon vitriol, triggering the acceptance of Utah into the Union in 1896 and also paving the way for the dramatic, yet still grudging, acceptance of Mormonism as an American religion.