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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 Modern America: A Sociological Overview

Religious Pluralism in Modern America: A Sociological Overview

(p.43) Chapter 2 Religious Pluralism in Modern America: A Sociological Overview
Gods in America

John H. Evans

Oxford University Press

In reference to religion, the term “pluralism” intends something more than “diversity,” which refers to the simple fact that differences exist. Pluralism, rather, involves understanding the diverse religious groups in society for what they are, appreciating them and respecting them; it is a strategy for managing diversity. Over the course of centuries, religious diversity in America has increased, as has interaction between different religious groups—first among different kinds of Protestants, then with Catholics and ultimately members of non-Christian traditions as well. Concurrently, a rising number of religious groups, even non-Christian ones, have come to be tolerated and accepted as belonging to the religious mainstream. Increasing pluralism may, however, be creating less certitude among believers about the distinctiveness of their own traditions, a condition that, if true, may paradoxically be reducing the diversity for which pluralism purports to be the solution.

Keywords:   Religious pluralism, religious diversity, sociology of religion, religious toleration—United States---sociology, religious toleration—United States—history, religious minorities—United States

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