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Religion, Culture and Politics in the Twentieth-Century United States

Mark Hulsether

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Anyone who seeks to understand the dynamics of culture and politics in the United States must grapple with the importance of religion in its many diverse and contentious manifestations. With conservative evangelicals forming the base of the Republican Party, racial-ethnic communities often organised along religious lines, and social-political movements on the left including major religious components, many of the country's key cultural-political debates are carried out through religious discourse. Thus it is misleading either to think of the US as a secular society in which religion is marginal, or to work with overly narrow understandings of religion which treat it as monolithically conservative or concerned primarily with otherworldly issues.

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Mapping US Religion
Religion in American Studies and Cultural Studies
Strategies for Dealing with Religious Diversity
1 Religion in North America Before the Twentieth Century
Native Americans Meet Europeans
From Red and White to Red, White, and Black
Key Players in European-American Religion During the Colonial Era
Expanding the Cast of Key Players
2 Changes in the Religious Landscape in the Early Twentieth Century
New Key Players on the Landscape: Jews and Roman Catholics
Emergent Developments in the Protestant Mainstream
Three Final Groups, Plus Multiple Maps for Multiple Interactions of Our Key Players
3 Religion and Social Conflict in the Early Twentieth Century
Religion, Wealth, and the Working Class
Religion and the Politics of Gender
Debates about War, Peace, and Foreign Relations
4 Cultural Aspects of Religion in the Early Twentieth Century
Cultural Dimensions of Immigrant Religious Enclaves
Religion and Popular Culture
Battles for the Soul of Protestantism
5 Shifts in the Religious Landscape From World War II to the Present
A Changing Map of Dazzling Religious Diversity
Collapse and Restructuring in the Old Protestant Establishment
Trends Among Other Key Players
6 Religion and Evolving Social Conflicts from World War to the Present
Faces of African-American Religion and Politics
More on the Culture War
Thinking about the End of the World with Conservative Protestants
7 Cultural Aspects of Religion from World War II to the Present
Creationism and the Emergence of a Postmodern Evangelicalism
Debates about Accepting Gay and Lesbian People
Religion in an Age of Consumerism
Faces of the Buddhist Sangha in America
Race and Religious Tradition in an Era of Cultural Hybridity
Mainstream Culture Warriors Respond to Rising Pluralism
Conclusion: Consensus, Pluralism, and Hegemony in US Religion

About the Author

Mark Hulsether is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at the University of Tennessee. He is author of Building a Protestant Left: Christianity and Crisis Magazine, 1941-1993 (University of Tennessee Press, 1999) and numerous articles on aspects of religion, culture and society in 20th-century America.


Wonderful. What I find most impressive is the clear-cut way Hulsether integrates religion, politics, and culture - no small task and a rarity in overviews of American religious history. It is comprehensive but also offers compelling case studies that illustrate the peculiar dynamics of twentieth century America, integrating economics, race relations, popular culture and other critical social forces into the story. This book is quite an achievement and will immediately stand out as a culturally informed, politically astute alternative guide to religion in contemporary America.
- Gary Laderman, Professor of American Religious History and Culture, Department of Religion, Emory University

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