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The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History$
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Paul Harvey and Edward Blum

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231140201

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.001.0001

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Major Themes in American Religious History

(p.1) Introduction
The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History

Paul Harvey

Edward J. Blum

Columbia University Press

This book explores the tension, conflict, and creativity in America's rich religious history from the colonial era to the present. It consists of twenty chapters, written by top scholars in their respective fields, that follow particular religious traditions, movements, and time periods. By way of introduction, it outlines ten major themes in American religious history, each containing within it a paradox: religious freedom and religiously sanctioned repression; (in)tolerance, diversity, and pluralism; racialized religion and the desire for a universal god; male hierarchy, female dominance, and gender codes in religion; Communalist visions and their consequent commercial capitalist dreams (or, the Protestant ethic and the spirit of therapeutic consumerism); proselytization—spiritual recruitment and the market economy of religion; the folk origins of high theology, and the theological base of popular religious movements; the sacralization of secular politics, and the politicization of the sacred; immigration, ethnicity, pluralism, and insularity; and regional homogeneity amid national diversity.

Keywords:   religious history, America, religious freedom, pluralism, religion, proselytization, religious movements, secular politics, immigration, ethnicity

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