Grant Wacker's narrative focuses on the rapid growth of evangelical Protestants in denominations such as Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist and their competition for dominance over religions such as Catholicism and Judaism, which were augmented by large immigrant arrivals from Ireland, Eastern Europe, and other lands. The author uses lively anecdotes to describe topics such as temperance and Sunday schools, and introduces the personalities sometimes colorful, sometimes saintly, and often both of the men and women who shaped American religion in the 19th century, including Methodist bishop Francis Asbury; ex-slave Sojourner Truth; Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science; and the popular evangelist Dwight L. Moody.
Written from the perspective of the various denominations that thrived in the 19th century, this comprehensive survey of the middle period in America's religious past actually starts a little earlier, in the 1780s. In the aftermath of the American Revolution, the citizens of the newly-minted republic had to cope with more than the havoc wreaked on churches and denominations by the war. They also tasted for the first time the effects of two novel ideas incorporated in the Constitution and the First Amendment: the separation of church and state and the freedom to practice any religion.
Grant Wacker takes readers on a lively tour of the numerous religions and the major historical challenges--from the Civil War and westward expansion to immigration and the Industrial Revolution--that defined the century. The narrative focuses on the rapid growth of evangelical Protestants, in denominations such as Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, and their competition for dominance with new immigrants' religions such as Catholicism and Judaism. The author discusses issues ranging from temperance to Sunday schools and introduces the personalities--sometimes colorful, sometimes saintly, and often both--of the men and women who shaped American religion in the 19th century, including Methodist bishop Francis Asbury, ex-slave Sojourner Truth, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, and evangelist Dwight L. Moody.
Religion in American Life explores the evolution, character, and dynamics of organized religion in America from 1500 to the present day. Written by distinguished religious historians, these books weave together the varying stories that compose the religious fabric of the United States, from Puritanism to alternative religious practices. Primary source material coupled with handsome illustrations and lucid text make these books essential in any exploration of America's diverse nature. Each book includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, and index.
"Authoritative, comprehensive, and well-balanced... Maintaining a strong sense of objectivity, the author clearly presents each movement's views and activities in just a few paragraphs.... [These movements] are not usually presented in such interesting ior exciting detail, nor are their relationships to other events made as clear.... The autho's fairness and generosity of understanding ... will encourage casual readers to learn more about these developments."--School Library Journal
"A highly readable, creative, and (another) original contribution to Oxford's "Religion in American Life" series... Each chapter in this book I found to be both informative and leaving me wanting to know more. Well written and brilliantly constructed, Grant Wacker's Religion in Nineteenth Century America
is a must for secondary school libraries and classrooms. It's a great read."--Religious Studies in Secondary Schools
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