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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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Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective

Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective

(p.56) Chapter 3 Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective
Gods in America

Bret E. Carroll

Oxford University Press

American religious pluralism—its symbolic expressions, its characteristic tensions and contests—play out nowhere more noticeably than on the landscape. Because exchanges among the nation's faiths are often about sacred space, which is inevitably contested, anyone seeking to comprehend American religious pluralism must turn for insight to geography. Religion generates claims on space and space is limited, religious pluralism necessarily involves multiple, overlapping, competing, and often conflicting claims—a geopolitics of sacred space in which individual and group claimants are required to engage, or at least remain mindful of, other claimants in the society. To understand these geopolitics fully involves constructing spatial analyses at different levels: local, regional, national, even transnational and global. Seeing American religious pluralism through the lens of geography offers important insights as we continue pursuing the spatial equity that is the geographic promise of the First Amendment.

Keywords:   Religious pluralism, religious geography, sacred space, religious regionalism, spatial analysis, Judeo-Christian tradition

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