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Religion and American PoliticsFrom the Colonial Period to the Present$
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Mark A. Noll and Luke E. Harlow

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195317145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195317145.001.0001

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The Democratization of Christianity and the Character of American Politics

The Democratization of Christianity and the Character of American Politics

Chapter:
(p.93) 5 The Democratization of Christianity and the Character of American Politics
Source:
Religion and American Politics
Author(s):

Nathan O. Hatch

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195317145.003.0006

Returning from more narrowly political debates to broader cultural questions, this chapter takes democratization as its theme. It testifies to the incompleteness of any historical view that leaves out the achievements of lower-order, dissenting Protestants who, as they drank deeply from the wellsprings of revolutionary rhetoric, greatly advanced the democratization of American religion and, in so doing, the democratization of American society and politics. The discussion explores the character of mass religious movements. It then considers three dimensions of these movements which have long-term implications for American politics: the importance of churches as basic classrooms for molding perceptions about the meaning of America; the competing impulses of democratic dissent and desire for respectability within these movements; and the role of populist forms of Christianity in the forming of a liberal society that is individualistic, competitive, and market driven.

Keywords:   Protestants, American religion, mass movements, populist Christianity, democratic dissent

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