The Transformation of American Religion by Amanda Porterfield
The Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening

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As recently as a few decades ago, most people would have described America as a predominantly Protestant nation. Today, we are home to a colorful mix of religious faiths and practices, from a resurgent Catholic Church and a rapidly growing Islam to all forms of Buddhism and many other non-Christian religions. How did this startling transformation take place?
A great many factors contributed to this transformation, writes Amanda Porterfield in this engaging look at religion in contemporary America. Religious activism, disillusionment with American culture stemming from the Vietnam war, the influx of Buddhist ideas, a heightened consciousness of gender, and the vastly broadened awareness of non-Christian religions arising from the growth of religious studies programs--all have served to undermine Protestant hegemony in the United States. But the single most important factor, says Porterfield, was the very success of Protestant ways of thinking: emphasis on the individual's relationship with God, tension between spiritual life and religious institutions, egalitarian ideas about spiritual life, and belief in the practical benefits of spirituality. Distrust of religious institutions, for instance, helped fuel a religious counterculture--the tendency to define spiritual truth against the dangers or inadequacies of the surrounding culture--and Protestantism's pragmatic view of spirituality played into the tendency to see the main function of religion as therapeutic.
For anyone interested in how and why the American religious landscape has been so dramatically altered in the last forty years, The Transformation of Religion in America offers a coherent and persuasive analysis.

About Amanda Porterfield

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Published April 5, 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA. 272 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Postwar evangelicals, Mormons, Jews (except Jewish Buddhists and Orthodox women anxious about sex), blacks (except Martin Luther King Jr.), Pentecostals, Catholic charismatics, Barthians—everyone, in fact, not part of the liberal/radical religious culture she celebrates—have no part of Porterfiel...

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Porterfield, professor of religious studies at the University of Wyoming and president-elect of the American Society of Church History, capably argues that a transformation has occurred in American religion in the late 20th century, and that this transformation is analogous to other periodic awak...

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