Encyclopedia of Religious Controversies in the United States

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Leading scholars present entries on selected controversies and controversial individuals in American religious life from the colonial period to the present. Key figures, themes, terms, institutions and groups, books, and relevant secular topics that have contributed to religious controversy are included. This ambitious volume includes bibliographies for each entry which direct the reader to additional resources for further study. From Ralph David Abernathy to Zionism, this work will prove to be an essential reference tool for scholars, students, and anyone interested in religious issues.

Controversy has been interwoven with religion throughout history. In an attempt to bring a sense of understanding to the causes and types of conflicts in American religious history, top scholars from different religious traditions have selected the key events and people that have shaped our religious heritage. With more than 1,700 religious bodies in the United States, the potential for conflicts and controversy is enormous. This work is the first attempt to being all of these elements together in one easy-to-use reference.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Editors Shriver (history, Georgia Southern Univ.) and Leonard (dean, Divinity Sch., Wake Forest Univ.) introduce their work by observing that religious controversy, while sometimes discouraging, is also "illustrative of lively and creative process and structure." Their reference work captures some of that process in approximately 350 signed entries, written by religion or history scholars and ranging from a few paragraphs to eight pages. Diversity is evident in the wide range of subjects, e.g., Methodists, Baptists, hyper-Calvinism, Marian devotion, Lubavitch, and Wicca, as well as religious aspects of academic freedom and family values. Considering its theme, the volume is remarkably unbiased; for instance, the entry for homosexuality begins "Is it a sin or a special grace?" and offers scriptures and interpretations supporting both views. The usual weaknesses of edited works are evident here. Some entries are oversimplified (e.g., abolitionism) or do not reflect the most recent scholarship (e.g., Nell Painter's recent work on Sojourner Truth is not identified), and better cross-referencing, e.g., from "snake handling" to "serpent handling," would also have been helpful. In addition, many of the subjects are covered elsewhere. Still, what makes this work unique and useful, in addition to its focus on controversy, is the inclusion of separate entries for topics that tend to get buried within broader topics in other reference works. Although not essential, this is a worthwhile purchase for most academic and public libraries.Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville
Alphabetical entries describe major persons, themes, terms, organizations, books ( a limited number), and secular topics that lend themselves to religious controversy. Entries cover a diverse range of movements throughout American history, and include many individuals<-- >like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Malcolm X<-->who are remembered less for their religious beliefs than for their involvement in other controversies. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313296918
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/17/1997
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

GEORGE H. SHRIVER is Professor of History and Chair, Religious Studies Minor, at Georgia Southern University.

BILL J. LEONARD is Dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest University.

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Table of Contents


The Encyclopedia



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