American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us
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American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us

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by Robert D. Putnam, David E. Campbell
     
 

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ISBN-10: 1416566716

ISBN-13: 9781416566717

Pub. Date: 10/05/2010

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

American Grace is a major achievement, a groundbreaking 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.

America has experienced three seismic shocks, say Robert Putnam and David

Overview

American Grace is a major achievement, a groundbreaking 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.

America has experienced three seismic shocks, say Robert Putnam and David Campbell. In the 1960s, religious observance plummeted. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, a conservative reaction produced the rise of evangelicalism and the Religious Right. Since the 1990s, however, young people, turned off by that linkage between faith and conservative politics, have abandoned organized religion. The result has been a growing polarization—the ranks of religious conservatives and secular liberals have swelled, leaving a dwindling group of religious moderates in between. At the same time, personal interfaith ties are strengthening. Interfaith marriage has increased while religious identities have become more fluid. Putnam and Campbell show how this denser web of personal ties brings surprising interfaith tolerance, notwithstanding the so-called culture wars.

American Grace 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.

Nearly every chapter of American Grace contains a surprise about American religious life. Among them:

• 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416566717
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
10/05/2010
Pages:
688
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.90(d)

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American Grace 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
dbranch99 More than 1 year ago
This book is a treasure trove of observations about multi-denominational attitudes and behaviors and its intersection with political and social issues. But what I found most surprising and hopeful were the findings of integration across religious belief systems (e.g., the high rate of inter-faith marriages, friendships and shifts from one's parents' faith to another or no affiliation at all, etc.). As the subtitle suggests, faith does not only divide us, but in unexpected ways also unites us. A much needed message in today's volatile climate. The authors attribute this to a high level of religious tolerance. Unfortunately, they stopped short of distinguishing between religious tolerance and religious acceptance (tolerance involves "putting up with" people you disapprove of; acceptance involves refusing to pass judgment on people who are different from you). This would have been an important distinction as tolerance, with its condescending tone, is far less hopeful than acceptance. You can and must legislate tolerance while acceptance must come from the heart. And I believe that much of what they discovered was indeed religious acceptance. You'd have to go elsewhere for more on this distinction, such as another new book - ("Tolerant Oppression: Why promoting tolerance undermines our quest for equality and what we should do instead.") Keeping that in mind, the authors' application of religious distinctions and affiliations to a range of political issues including premarital sex, homosexuality, abortion, etc. spawned interesting observations. An important book.
John-GaltMN More than 1 year ago
Fascinating, objective research. If you're at all interested in how politics has become so intertwined with religion in America these days, I highly recommend this book. Every page was interesting.
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CSENYC More than 1 year ago
If you are curious as to how religiosity affects people's behavior, politics, etc., this book is for you. It's an absolute masterpiece and, despite being about 500 pages, is an easy, fascinating read. Packed full of data and analysis- from data about how churchgoers who join small groups and have friends in the congregation behave much more differently in terms of neighborliness and performing civic duties than those who worship but don't do much else, to information about how the young are less pro-choice than their elders but don't really vote accordingly. Highly recommended.
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