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Gods in AmericaReligious Pluralism in the United States$
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Charles L. Cohen and Ronald L. Numbers

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931903

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931903.001.0001

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Religious Pluralism in Religious Studies

Religious Pluralism in Religious Studies

(p.21) Chapter 1 Religious Pluralism in Religious Studies
Gods in America

Amanda Porterfield

Oxford University Press

Religious pluralism is a term for religious diversity that imputes positive meaning to religion and encourages appreciative understanding of its many forms. Rooted in Protestant idealism and emerging from Protestant institutions in the United States, the concept of religious pluralism has deeply informed the fields of religious studies and American religious history since World War II. Sidney Ahlstrom's Religious History of the American People (1972) established the construct as a framework for understanding both the trajectory of American religious history and the ways in which the relationship between religion and democracy have played out. Both scholarly proponents and critics of religious pluralism have taken their cues from him, the former tending to see pluralism as a positive development for American society and politics, the latter charging it with either being antithetical to biblical revelation or obstructive to critical inquiry.

Keywords:   Ahlstrom, Sidney, religious pluralism, religion in America—history—post-1945, religious studies, religion in America—historiography

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