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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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Alternative Religious Movements in American History

Alternative Religious Movements in American History

Chapter:
(p.265) 13. Alternative Religious Movements in American History
Source:
The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History
Author(s):

Stephen J. Stein

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.003.0014

This chapter surveys alternative religious movements in American history. Historians and sociologists who have studied sects or alternative religious movements in American history have attempted to identify the principal elements that set such groups apart from other religious communities. That attempt has resulted in the use of several adjectives that have taken on a substantive quality and have resulted in new terminology applied to such movements. Among the common adjectives employed are “dissenting,” “outsider,” “emergent,” “fringe,” “marginal,” and “alternative.” Each of these words conveys the sense of a contrasting relationship between the religious groups so designated and the dominant, mainstream, or majority religious groups in a particular locale, region, or nation. Two other terms commonly employed for alternative religious movements are “cults” and “New Religious Movements.” This chapter provides representative examples of alternative religious movements in three time periods: colonial period, the national period (extending from 1790 to 1940), and an international era (from World War II to the present).

Keywords:   alternative religious movements, American history, sects, religious groups, cults, New Religious Movements, colonial period, national period

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