Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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p. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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p. ix

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface to the Second Edition

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pp. xiii-xv

The first edition of The Churching of America caused quite a stir. Peter Steinfels devoted a New York Times article (February 20, 1993) to review the apparent controversies surrounding the book and reviews of the book went far beyond the traditional disciplinary outlets of sociologists and historians. Receiving the 1993 Distinguished Book Award from the...

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Chapter 1: A New Approach to American Religious History

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pp. 1-24

We did not intend to make major revisions to the history of American religion, but unless reason and arithmetic have failed us, we have done precisely that. It seems appropriate, therefore, to begin this study with an explanation of how it took shape and why we were so often forced to challenge the received wisdom about American religious history. ...

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Chapter 2: The Colonial Era Revisited

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pp. 25-54

Nostalgia is the enemy of history. No educated person any longer believes that the ancients were correct about a fall from a Golden Age. Yet we frequently accept equally inaccurate tales about more recent “good old days”—tales that corrupt our understanding of the past and mislead us about the present. ...

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Chapter 3: The Upstart Sects Win America, 1776–1850

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pp. 55-116

In 1776 the Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians seemed to be the colonial denominations. Of Americans active in a religious body, 55 percent belonged to one of the three. And at the time it seemed certain that these groups would continue to be the “mainline” for the foreseeable future. Indeed, in 1761 Ezra Stiles using a demographic projection...

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Chapter 4: The Coming of the Catholics, 1850–1926

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pp. 117-155

Too often the growth and vigor of American Catholicism are simply explained as a matter of immigration. All the priests had to do was stand at the gangplanks and enroll the faithful as they disembarked—a task made all the easier because these newcomers were people accustomed to “blind obedience.” ...

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Chapter 5: Methodists Transformed, Baptists Triumphant

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pp. 156-196

When we left them in 1850, the Methodists had just achieved a virtual miracle of growth, rising from less than 3 percent of the nation’s church members in 1776 to more than 34 percent by 1850, making them far and away the largest religious body in the nation. But by 1890 they had been overtaken by the Roman Catholics. ...

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Chapter 6: Why Unification Efforts Fail

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pp. 197-234

In 1959, Eugene Carson Blake, a leader of the United Presbyterian Church who had just completed his term as president of the National Council of Churches, noted that the latest Yearbook of American Churches listed 258 separate denominations. Of course, he pointed out, the twenty-four largest of these bodies accounted for more than 80 percent of America’s church...

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Chapter 7: Why “Mainline” Denominations Decline

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pp. 235-283

If there is one urgent lesson we have learned from our historical studies of American religion it is this: anyone who plans to write about religious change in America should first consult Ecclesiastes 1:9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” ...

Appendix: Profile Tables, 1776 and 1850

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pp. 285-294

Notes

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pp. 295-304

Reference List

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pp. 305-331

Index

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pp. 333-347