Moving far beyond the realm of traditional "church history," Patrick Allitt here offers a vigorous and erudite survey of the broad canvas of American religion since World War II. Identifying the major trends and telling moments within major denominations and also in less formal religious movements, he asks how these religious groups have shaped, and been shaped by, some of the most important and divisive issues and events of the last half century: the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, feminism and the sexual revolution, abortion rights, the antinuclear and environmentalist movements, and many others.
Allitt argues that the boundaries between religious and political discourse have become increasingly blurred in the last fifty years. Having been divided along denominational lines in the early postwar period, religious Americans had come by the 1980s to be divided along political lines instead, as they grappled with the challenges of modernity and secularism. Partly because of this politicization, and partly because of the growing influence of Asian, Latino, and other ethnic groups, the United States is anomalous among the Western industrialized nations, as church membership and religious affiliation generally increased during this period. Religion in America Since 1945 is a masterful analysis of this dynamism and diversity and an ideal starting point for any exploration of the contemporary religious scene.
About the Author
Patrick Allitt is professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985, Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome, and the editor of Major Problems in American Religious History.
Table of Contents
1. Anxious Victory: 1945-1952
2. Religion and Materialism: 1950-1970
3. Religion, Respect, and Social Change: 1955-1968
4. New Frontiers and Old Boundaries: 1960-1969
5. Shaking the Foundations: 1963-1972
6. Alternative Religious Worlds: 1967-1982
7. Evangelicals and Politics: 1976-1990
8. The Christian Quest for Justice and Wisdom: 1980-1995
9. Profits, Profligates, and Prophets: 1987-1995
10. The New World Order: 1989-1999
11. Fears, Threats, and Promises: 1990-2000
12. The New Millennium: 2001
What People are Saying About This
No single book can render the whole landscape of modern American religion. But Patrick Allitt has given us an exceptionally lucid overview in this humane, witty, and gracefully written volume. Approaching religion in the genial spirit of a William James, Allitt seeks less to pass judgment on his subjects than to describe them fairly, and explore their place in the texture of modern American life. The resulting book not only serves as a stimulating introduction to an essential but poorly understood aspect of recent American history. It also kindles our curiosity and wonder at the inexhaustible variety of human thought and experience.
Allitt has provided us with a shrewd, savvy introduction to a subject of bewildering complexity. And the writing is terrific.
A work of masterful and exacting scholarship that reads like a page-turner. Tracing the varities of religious experience in the United States from the dropping of the atom bomb in 1945 to '9/11,' Allitt offers a thoughtful and provocative account of all manner of American belief and religious space-from Billy Graham to Timothy O'Leary, from Eero Saarinen's M.I.T. chapel to Levittown's ticky-tacky suburban "church gymnasiums," from Paul Tillich to Louis Farrakan. Allitt's narrative brilliantly explores how and why the U.S. is both the most religious and the most secular of the industrialized nations in the world. This is a scholarly work of the first order that is a rollicking good read!
Patrick Allitt has done an enviable job of piecing together a coherent picture of the complex developments that have characterized American religion since World War II. I am especially impressed with his judicious selection of topics. The book is even-handed in its coverage of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, and is particularly helpful in showing how religious leaders responded to major political events, cultural change, and new technology. Sociologists and political scientists, as well as historians and scholars of religion, will find a lot of valuable information in this book.