Why are U.S. Americans so religious?

Does anyone know a good article or book (or several) that explains why U.S. Americans are so religious/Christian (for instance, as compared to Europe which is so secular)? I’m sure I could find some, but I’m wondering if there are ones people know of that are actually good or accepted as pretty on-target. I know, I know. I’m in divinity school and should know this. But I don’t.

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5 Responses to Why are U.S. Americans so religious?

  1. Valerie McKay says:

    Hi Elizabeth, here are a few I’ve read about but not actually read:

    American Theocracy : The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury
    by Kevin Phillips

    The Mighty and the Almighty : Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs
    by Madeleine Albright

    Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
    by Michelle Goldberg

    God’s Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (Hardcover)
    by Jim Wallis

  2. Clyde Grubbshttp://justworld.typepad.com/perspectives/ says:

    The europeans who came here were very religious. The europeans who stayed home weren’t so much. The nation that was founded was ideologically attached to a particular kind of Christian trimphalism.

    The form of organization of the American religion was non conforming congregationalism. The form of organizationof European religion since the revolution has been establishment conformism.

  3. ogre says:

    American Theocracy is very, very good (and very depressing), but doesn’t address the question “why.” It just deals with relatively current things.

    I haven’t delved into it yet, but I suspect that “American Gospel,” by Jon Meacham, might.

    Indeed, there was a lot of immigration to America based on religion and seeking religious freedom (at least for those immigrating… not necessarily for anyone else). But it’s more complicated than that, because if it was just the effect of who moved here, you’d expect to find New England a hotbed of rabidly religious folk. Instead, it’s not. You find the aggressive devotion and intensely Christian (and Christianist) population is disproportionately in the South.

  4. Philocriteshttp://www.philocrites.com says:

    The books Valerie mentions have nothing to do with your question, unfortunately. The issue you’re asking about is usually discussed in the sociology of religion as the “secularization” question.

    Two historians of American religion who probably have a good general thesis about why the U.S. remains relatively religious are Martin Marty (see Modern American Religion, 3 vols) and Peter Williams (America’s Religions). See also the Encyclopedia of Religion in America. One of these resources should get you started on a bibliography that helps you answer your question.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Mr Philocrites. My partner is also very involved in progressive politics and this is a constantly reoccuring question for his work too. I’ll be reading up this summer. Elizabeth :)

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