American Grace is a major achievement, a groundbreaking and ultimatley surprising examination of religion in America.
Unique among nations, America is deeply religious, religiously diverse, and remarkably tolerant. But in recent decades the nation's religious landscape has been reshaped.American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites US is based on two of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America. It includes a dozen in-depth profiles of diverse congregations across the country, which illuminate how the trends described by Putnam and Campbell affect the lives of real Americans.
The context for this book comes from the identification "three seismic shocks" in American religion by authors Robert Putnam and David Campbell. First, In the 1960s, religious observance plummeted. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, a conservative reaction produced the rapid and dramatic rise of evangelicalism, its accompanying subculture, and the often discussed Religious Right. Since the 1990s, however, young people, turned off by the linkage between faith and conservative politics, are abandoning their roots in organized religion. The result has been a growing polarization--the ranks of religious conservatives and secular liberals have swelled--leaving only a dwindling group of religious moderates in between.
Moreover, multiculturalism the much debated cultural concept has left its abstract roots and has become concretized in teh strengthening of personal interfaith ties, increased inter-faith and increasingly pliable and fluid religious identities. Putnam and Campbell show how this dense and complex web of personal ties and religious "shocks" have ushered in a surprising interfaith tolerance, even as the so-called the culture wars winddown from their heights.
Nearly every chapter of American Grace contains a surprise about American religious life.
Between one-third and one-half of all American marriages are interfaith
Roughly one-third of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives
Young people are more opposed to abortion than their parents but more accepting of gay marriage
Even fervently religious Americans believe that people of other faiths can go to heaven
Religious Americans are better neighbors than secular Americans: more generous with their time and treasure even for secular causes-but the explanation has less to do with faith than with their communities of faith
Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today.
American Grace promises to be the most important book in decades about American religious life and an essential book for understanding our nation today.
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