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Religion in the U.S.

Religion forms a significant part of the rich cultural mosaic of American civilization. But what does it mean to speak of American religion? On one level, the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment have encouraged the most religiously variegated society in the Western world; Americans share no common theology or religious customs. On a deeper level, however, a pervasive religious self-understanding has contributed to a strong cultural consensus that crosses denominational distinctions: America is a new “promised land” populated by a new “chosen people.” This course is an intensive survey of religion and religions in America that addresses this question of radical religious pluralism vs. common cultural identity. Rather than follow a strict chronological survey, we will investigate certain themes in American religious history that best demonstrate the conflicts and accommodations between pluralism and consensus.


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

Rodger Payne

Louisiana State University

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, American Studies, History

General Comparative Traditions
Religous Tradition

Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity, Nationalism/War/Civil Religion

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