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Introduction: Recent Developments in the Study of Religion in the US

  • RANDALL J. STEPHENS

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1 King, Richard H., Postmodernism vs. Evangelical Religion in Post-1960s America (London: British Library, 2008), 23 .

2 See, for example, Orsi, Robert A., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Chryssides, George D. and Geaves, Ron, The Study of Religion: An Introduction to Key Ideas and Methods (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 15 .

3 Prothero, Stephen, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – and Doesn't (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 56 .

4 Butler, Jon, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990).

5 Reed, Jean-Pierre, “Religion as Custom and Political Resistance: An Unorthodox Interpretation of EP Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class,” Critical Sociology, 39, 2 (2011), 239–58, 239.

6 Sweet, Leonard I., “The Evangelical Tradition in America,” in Sweet, , ed., The Evangelical Tradition in America (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1984), 186 , 73, 74.

7 McGreevy, John T., “Faith and Morals in the United States, 1865–Present,” Reviews in American History, 26, 1 (1998), 239–54, 241, 242.

8 Stephens, Randall J., “Religion in American History: An Interview with Stephen Prothero,” Historically Speaking (May–June 2008), 1214 , 13.

9 Hedstrom, Matthew S., “The Evangelical Mind in a Secular Age,” Modern Intellectual History (July 2015), 805–17, 806. Butler, Jon, “Jack-in-the-Box Faith: The Religion Problem in Modern American History,” Journal of American History, 90, 4 (March 2004), 1357–76. Schultz, Kevin M. and Harvey, Paul, “Everywhere and Nowhere: Religion in the Historiography of the Modern America,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 78, 1 (March 2010), 129–62.

10 “A Bleak Outlook Is Seen for Religion,” New York Times, 25 Feb. 1968, 3. Berger, Peter, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967). Mills, C. Wright, The Sociological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), 3233 . See also essays in Swatos, William H. and Olson, Daniel V. A., eds., The Secularization Debate (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000); Martin, David, On Secularization: Towards a Revised General Theory (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005); Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); Sommerville, C. John, “Secular Society Religious Population: Our Tacit Rules for Using the Term Secularization,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 2 (June 1998), 249–53; and Aldridge, Alan, Religion in the Contemporary World: A Sociological Introduction (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), 6696 . Berger, Peter L., The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 2 . Stanley Fish, “One University under God?”, chronicle.com, 7 Jan. 2005, accessed 6 May 2008.

11 Findlay, James F., “Religion and Politics in the Sixties: The Churches and the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Journal of American History, 77, 1 (June 1990), 6692 ; and Friedland, Michael B., Lift Up Your Voice Like a Trumpet: White Clergy and the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, 1954–1973 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

12 On evangelical demographics see “Religious Landscape Survey: U.S. Religion Map and Religious Populations,” at http://religions.pewforum.org/maps (2008), accessed on 14 Dec. 2013; and David A. Roozen, “Oldline Protestantism: Pockets of Vitality within a Continuing Stream of Decline,” Hartford Institute for Religion, Hartford Seminary, 2004, at http://hirr.hartsem.edu/bookshelf/roozen_article5.html, accessed 21 April 2014. Jason S. Lantzer, Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America's Majority Faith (New York: New York University Press); Bowman, Matthew, The Urban Pulpit: New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Edwards, Mark Thomas, The Right of the Protestant Left: God's Totalitarianism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Hollinger, David, After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013); Coffman, Elesha J., The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline (Oxford University Press, 2013); Hedstrom, Matthew S., The Rise of Liberal Religion: Book Culture and American Spirituality in the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); Dorrien, Gary J., The Making of American Liberal Theology: Crisis, Irony, and Postmodernity (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006). See also Maffly-Kipp, Laurie F., “The Burdens of Church History,” Church History, 82, 2 (June 2013), 353–67.

13 Stephens, Randall J., “Liberal Protestantism in 20th-Century America: An Interview with David A. Hollinger,” Historically Speaking, 14, 5 (Nov. 2013), 1113 , 11.

14 “Obama's Favorite Theologian? A Short Course on Reinhold Niebuhr,” Pew Research Center, at www.pewforum.org/2009/05/04/obamas-favorite-theologian-a-short-course-on-reinhold-niebuhr (4 May 2009), accessed 18 March 2015.

15 Thanks to Christopher Cantwell for organizing this enlightening 2011 AHA session. All of the following appeared in Fides et Historia, 44, 2 (Summer–Fall 2012): Catherine L. Albanese, “American Metaphysical Religion,” 59–61; Lila Corwin Berman, “American Jewish History against the Grain,” 62–66; Wallace Best, “A History beyond ‘Belief,’” 67–74; Richard Lyman Bushman, “The Mormon Story,” 75–79; Robert Orsi, “I'm Starting to Think This Is Not about Catholics,” 80–83. See also Boyer, Paul, “In Search of the Fourth ‘R’: The Treatment of Religion in American History Textbooks and Survey Courses,” in Kuklick, Bruce and Hart, Darryl G., eds., Religious Advocacy and American History (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1997), 112–26, 118–19; Mallampalli, Chandra, “World Christianity and ‘Protestant America’: Historical Narratives and the Limits of Christian Pluralism,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 30, 1 (Jan. 2006), 813 ; Stahl, Ronit Y., “A Jewish America and a Protestant Civil Religion: Will Herberg, Robert Bellah, and Mid-Twentieth-Century American Religion,” Religions, 6, 2 (June 2015), 434–50; Schultz, Kevin M., Tri-faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise (New York: Oxford, 2011); Brekus, Catherine A., “Interpreting American Religion,” in Barney, William L., ed., A Companion to 19th-Century America (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 317–33; and Jacobsen, Douglas and Trollinger, William Vance Jr., “Historiography of American Protestantism: The Two-Party Paradigm, and Beyond,” Fides et Historia, 25, 3 (Fall 1993), 415 .

16 Nearly ten years ago historian Robert Orsi told me that he thought American religious historians “celebrate those aspects of American religious history that are admirable from a neo-orthodox perspective.” He called for further studies to be written “without the edge of moral condemnation that otherwise characterizes the field.” His critique may be less true now, considering the scope of topics studied and the variety of methodologies. The accidental Whiggery he sensed may be a thing of the past. Stephens, Randall J., “Beyond the Niebuhrs: An Interview with Robert Orsi on Recent Trends in American Religious History,” Historically Speaking (July–Aug. 2006), 811 , 9.

17 Randall Stephens, “Four Questions with Peggy Bendroth,” http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/four-questions-with-peggy-bendroth.html (12 May 2013), accessed 18 March 2015; Stephens, “Four Questions with Kate Carté Engel,” at http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/four-questions-with-kate-carte-engel.html (12 Aug. 2014), accessed 18 March 2015.

18 Randall Stephens, “Four Questions with Judith Weisenfeld,” at http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/four-questions-with-judith-weisenfeld_12.html (12 March 2014), accessed 22 March 2015. Stephens, “Four Questions with Candy Gunther Brown,” at http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/four-questions-with-candy-gunther-brown.html (21 Jan. 2014), accessed 22 March 2015.

19 Randall Stephens, “Four Questions with David Morgan,” at http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/four-questions-with-david-morgan.html (12 Dec. 2013), accessed 22 March 2015. See also Stephens, “Four Questions with Jason C. Bivins,” at http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/four-questions-with-jason-c-bivins.html (12 Feb. 2014), accessed 22 March 2015; and Stephens, “Four Questions with Sarah Pike,” at http://usreligion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/four-questions-with-sarah-pike.html (12 March 2013), accessed 22 March 2015.

20 Robert B. Townsend, “A New Found Religion? The Field Surges among AHA Members,” at www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/december-2009/a-new-found-religion-the-field-surges-among-aha-members, accessed 10 May 2016. Townsend, “The Rise and Decline of History Specializations over the Past 40 Years,” at http://historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/december-2015/the-rise-and-decline-of-history-specializations-over-the-past-40-years (Dec. 2015), accessed 15 Dec. 2015.

Department of Humanities, Northumbria University. Email: .

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