Designed to serve as an introduction to American religion, this volume is distinctive in its approach: instead of following a traditional narrative, the book is arranged thematically. Eleven chapters by top scholars present, in carefully organized and accessible fashion, topics and perspectives fundamental to the understanding of religion in America. Some of the chapters treat aspects of faith typical to most religious groups, such as theology, proselytization, supernaturalism, and cosmology. Others deal with race, ethnicity, gender, the state, economy, science, diversity, and regionalism--facets of American culture that often interact with religion.
Each topical essay is structured chronologically, divided into sections on pre-colonial, colonial, revolutionary and early republican, antebellum, postbellum and late nineteenth-century, early twentieth-century, and modern America. One can study the extended history of a certain theme, or read "across" the book for a study of all the themes during a specific period in history. This book's new approach offers a rich analysis of the genuine complexity of American religious life. With a helpful glossary of basic religious terms, movements, people, and groups, this book will become an essential tool for students and teachers of religion.