Religious Pluralism in America : The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal
New Haven, Connecticut
Yale University Press
Religious toleration is enshrined as an ideal in our Constitution, but religious diversity has had a complicated history in the United States. Although Americans have taken justifiable pride in the rich array of religious faiths that help define our nation, for two centuries we have been grappling with the question of how we can coexist. In this ambitious reappraisal of American religious history, William Hutchison chronicles the country’s struggle to fulfill the promise of its founding ideals. In 1800 the United States was an overwhelmingly Protestant nation. Over the next two centuries, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others would emerge to challenge the Protestant mainstream. Although their demands were often met with resistance, Hutchison demonstrates that as a result of these conflicts we have expanded our understanding of what it means to be a religiously diverse country. No longer satisfied with mere legal toleration, we now expect that all religious groups will share in creating our national agenda. This book offers a groundbreaking and timely history of our efforts to become one nation under multiple gods.