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Religion in America

There have been many attempts to tell the story of religion in America. Many scholars emphasize the secularization of American life, arguing that religion has become less and less important in our society. Others believe that we have grown more religious over the past 200 years, highlighting what they call the “Churching of America.” Still others celebrate the amazing diversity of American religion, focusing on the spiritual journeys of native peoples, immigrants, and African-Americans. In “What is Happening to Religion? Six Sociological Narratives” sociologist James Spickard summarizes these conflicting approaches, arguing that that “each of these stories is plausible” and that few scholars “are wedded to any single story.” In this course, we will consider the multiple storylines that have been used to make sense of American religious history. Your job is to determine which storylines make the most sense to you. You need not be wedded to a single story


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

John Schmalzbauer

Southwest Missouri State University

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Intro, Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, History

Catholic, General Comparative Traditions, Hinduism, Indigenous, Islam, Judaism, New Religious Movements, Protestant
Religous Tradition

Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Immigration/Refugees, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity

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