Alternative American Religions / Edition 1

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Overview

Through their role in the development of the First Amendment and their exercise of the freedoms it grants, alternative religious groups have had a profound influence on American history. As Stephen J. Stein points out in this vivid overview, the history of alternative religion—from colonial Puritans to late-20th-century Branch Davidians—runs parallel to that of dissent in America. Committed to fairness of representation, Stein describes the evolution and structure of alternative religious movements from both sides: the critics and the religious dissenters themselves. He investigates obscure groups such as the 19th-century Vermont Pilgrims, who wore bearskins and refused to bathe or cut their hair, alongside better-known alternative believers, including colonial America's largest outsider faith, the Quakers; 17th- and 18th-century Mennonites, Amish, and Shakers; and the Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Black Muslims, and Scientologists of today. The book also covers the milestones in the history of alternative American religions, from the infamous Salem witch trials and mass suicide/murder at Jonestown to the positive ways in which these religions have affected racial relations and the empowerment of women.

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.

Examines various alternative religions, or New Religious Movements, that have existed in the United States from colonial times through the twentieth century and from the perspectives of both insiders and outsiders.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clearly presented material... [The religious groups'] ideas, organizational structure, and beliefs and practices are described in a readable narrative style.... Enough detail is included to give a clear understanding of the practices and ideas that have made each group unique.... The tone throughout is nonjudgmental and the emphasis is on people and their ideas. Black-and-white photos and reproductions add information and perspective to the presentation."—School Library Journal

"A fair and balanced treatment of a wide range of alternative traditions in America. The prose is very readable and the vocabulary is well within the range of junior or senior high school students."—Religious Studies in Secondary Schools

"Primary source inserts for each chapter and an abundance of period illustrations move the discussion along."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195111965
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Series: Religion in American Life Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 13 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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