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10 - The Religious Situation in the USA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2015

Hans Joas
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
Hans Joas
Affiliation:
University of Erfurt and University of Chicago
Klaus Wiegandt
Affiliation:
Founder and CEO of the foundation Forum für Verantwortung
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Summary

Even for those who visit the USA only occasionally and lack deep historical knowledge of the country, its religious pluralism and vitality are probably impossible to miss. While the German village often seems to be built around its only church, its American counterpart generally features a large number of churches, often lined up along a single street – a reflection of the great variety of religious faiths. In Europe on the other hand, despite all the changes wrought by industrialization and urban growth, flight and expulsion, the principle that there can be just one religion in one territory is still much in evidence geographically. American churches are often provided with large car parks, and these regularly fill up on Sundays, when services are held, but also throughout the day on weekdays, because a large number of activities are organized within the parishes and congregations. After the Second World War, when settlement structures changed radically as increasing numbers of town dwellers moved into homes in the country, giving rise to the vast ‘suburbs’, it sometimes seemed that the new malls in the open countryside were taking the churches' central place in social life. But before long, numerous new churches and synagogues were also constructed in these suburbs, and it is arguable that the average American suburban family continues to attend church more often than it goes to the mall. In the cities, the (often enormous) historic church buildings remain, the congregations now often consisting entirely of African-Americans or new immigrants.

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Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • The Religious Situation in the USA
  • Edited by Hans Joas, University of Erfurt and University of Chicago, Klaus Wiegandt, Founder and CEO of the foundation Forum für Verantwortung
  • Book: Secularization and the World Religions
  • Online publication: 05 June 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.5949/UPO9781846315671.012
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  • The Religious Situation in the USA
  • Edited by Hans Joas, University of Erfurt and University of Chicago, Klaus Wiegandt, Founder and CEO of the foundation Forum für Verantwortung
  • Book: Secularization and the World Religions
  • Online publication: 05 June 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.5949/UPO9781846315671.012
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • The Religious Situation in the USA
  • Edited by Hans Joas, University of Erfurt and University of Chicago, Klaus Wiegandt, Founder and CEO of the foundation Forum für Verantwortung
  • Book: Secularization and the World Religions
  • Online publication: 05 June 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.5949/UPO9781846315671.012
Available formats
×