Peoples: The Thickness of Pluralism

“Ethnicity is the skeleton of American religion.” This was Marty’s presidential address to the American Society of Church History in 1971.


“The story of the peopling of America has not yet been written. We do not understand ourselves,” complained Frederick Jackson Turner in 1891.(1) Subsequent immigration history contributed to national self-understanding. Without ever completely abandoning Turner’s frontier thesis, which historians used as far as it went, they added other preoccupations. A century after Turner, historians were busier with a second chapter in the half-told tale of the peopling of America. They have concentrated on the story of the regrouping of citizens along racial, ethnic, and religious lines, and of their relations to each other in movements of what have come to be called “peoplehood.”(2)


Peoplehood and Tribalism

First, the realities of black power, black religion, black theology and black churchmanship inspired historians of religion in the 1960s to explore hitherto neglected elements in the makeup of spiritual America. The murder of integrationist leader Martin Luther King and the publication of separationist Albert Cleage, Jr.’s The Black Messiah in 1968 were signs of a developing sense of “peoplehood” among blacks as well as of what was called the “religiocification” of a black revolution. Ties to the African religious past and to other spiritual forces outside America were regularly stressed: “We must seek out our brothers in all of Asia and Africa.”(3)

The black revolution triggered or was concurrent with other expressions of peoplehood. The American Indian frequently stated his case in religious terms and even provided a metaphor for understanding all the movements: people came to speak of the presence of “a new tribalism.”(4) Meanwhile, many Jews resisted being blended into the American mixture. They reinterpreted their community around two particular historical events, the Holocaust and the formation of modern Israel; their new self-consciousness resulted in “the retribalization of the Jew.”(5) This change was accompanied in America by some retreat from interfaith conversation on the part of Jews and some questioning as to whether the common “Judeo-Christian tradition” was anything more than a contrivance. The ghetto walls had largely fallen, but the suburban Jew had not fully resolved his questions of identity and mission.

“Peoplehood” movements brought to view the 15 million Americans of Spanish descent, including the newly assertive Chicanos, chiefly in the Southwest. “Chicano describes a beautiful people. Chicano has a power of its own. Chicano is a unique confluence of histories, cultures, languages, and traditions. . . . Chicano is a unique people. Chicano is a prophecy of a new day and a new world.”(7) In the Northeast, particularly in New York City, almost a million Puerto Ricans, representing the first airborne migration of a people, stamped their distinctive claims on the consciousness of a nation.(8)

Americans of Eastern Orthodox descent made moves to recover their heritages. Orientals in San Francisco protested school busing because integration might threaten their people’s heritage. Chinese and Japanese all across the country became subjects of curiosity by their non-Oriental contemporaries who showed interest in Eastern religion, in Yoga or Zen. Nationalist separatist groups in Quebec gathered around French culture and Catholic faith in neighboring Canada and provided local examples of a worldwide neo-nationalism.

The racial and ethnic self-consciousness of what had been called the “minority groups” led to a new sense of peoplehood among the two groups which together made up the American majority. One of these clusters came to be called “white ethnic,” its members, “ethnics.” They took on new group power at a moment when paradoxically, as students of The Real Majority pointed out, “ethnics are dying out in America and becoming a smaller percentage of the total population.”(9) The actual decline was from 26 percent of the population (“foreign stock”) in 1940 down to an estimated 15 percent in 1970. Austrians, “Baltics,” Czechoslovakians, German Catholics, Hungarians, Italians, Poles and other heirs of earlier immigration from Europe were often led to see a common destiny despite their past histories of separation and often of mutual suspicion or hostility Most of them were of Roman Catholic back grounds, members of a church which in its Second Vatican Council taught its adherents to think of themselves in the image of “The New People of God.”(10) In America they wanted also to be a people with identity, a people of power.

Finally, there is “one of America’s greatest and most colorful minority groups.” They came here on crowded ships, were resented by the natives and had to struggle mightily for every advance they made against a hostile environment. Despite these handicaps, despite even a skin color different from the native Americans, this hardy group prospered and, in prospering, helped build the nation. They fought in her wars, guided her commerce, developed her transportation, built her buildings. The debt that the country owes to this particular group of immigrants can never be over-estimated. In short, like most American minority groups, they made good Citizens.

“The only thing different about the group is that it is the one traditionally viewed as the ‘American majority'” The minority group just described by Ben J. Wattenberg and Richard M. Scammon is “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant,” further qualified today as “native-born of native parentage.”(11) The acronym and designation WASPNN in the 1960s represented only about 30 percent of the population. It was divided into 60 percent urban and 40 percent rural, 35 percent southern and 65 percent nonsouthern communities and included great inner variety. But its critics tended to lump all WASPs together, and increasing numbers of Americans accepted membership in this “people.” Among them are large numbers “who happen to be both Anglo-Saxon and white, but whom none would think to describe in terms of WASP power structures. For these particular Protestants (in rural Appalachia, for example) also happen to be exploitable and as invisible as any of America’s other dispossessed minorities,” and “are sometimes themselves referred to as a separate people.”(12)

Despite internal variety, at least as late as the 1960s, “the white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant remains the typical American, the model to which other Americans are expected and encouraged to conform.”(13) One of the most significant events in the recent study of the peopling of America has been the growing sense, however, that WASPs are a minority themselves. They have at least lost statistical bases for providing a national norm for ethnic self-understanding.


Race, Ethnicity, and Religious History

These good years for peoplehood have given rise to whole new historical and social inquiries concerning ethnicity. The term (‘obs., rare’) once meant “heathendom,” “heathen superstition.”(14) Today it is coming to refer to participation in “an ethnic group–racial, religious, or national” in origin.(15) In this essay, racial is a species of the genus ethnic. People may have authentic or only imaginary ties to a common place of origin, as Max Weber noted.(16) Thus when a nonchurchgoing American of Swedish descent is listed as a WASP and accepts that designation, his part in an “Anglo-Saxon” people relates only to an imagined common origin with some Englishmen.(17) Two American Italians who share actual ties to common birthplaces in Europe present a more obvious case for membership in an ethnic group. Yet in practical life and in the world of the politicians or analysts the Swedish WASP and the Italian will tend to be treated as equally legitimate participants in the lives of their people.

The new movements of peoplehood and the expressions of ethnic and racial consciousness–almost all of them marked by claims of “chosenness”–caught many Americans off guard. I shall argue that professional students of religion in America for the most part had become committed after the middle of the twentieth century to theories of interpretation, models and paradigms of inquiry which led them to neglect, gloss over, or deliberately obscure the durable sense of peoplehood in the larger American community. This also left many members of the fraternity ill prepared to tell the stories of those who shared new styles of ethnic consciousness.

If that argument can be established, we may properly speak of ethnicity as the skeleton of religion in America. In a plea for historically informed ethnic studies and in an account of the history of the neglect of ethnic groups, Rudolph J. Vecoli says; “Ethnicity in American historiography has remained something of a family scandal, to be kept a dark secret or explained away.”(18) This suggests two dictionary images. One is that of “a skeleton in the closet,” which is “a secret source of shame or pain to a family or person.” The other is that of “a skeleton at the banquet,” a “reminder of serious or saddening things in the midst of enjoyment.” Equally seriously, ethnicity is the skeleton of religion in America because it provides “the supporting framework,” “the bare outlines or main features,” of American religion.

When the new particularism was first asserted in the 1960s, students had been enjoying their realization that consensus-minded America no longer seemed to be “tribal.” (Tribes, to repeat Lord Bryces observation, possessed distinctive and localized religions. “Religion appeared to them a matter purely local; and as there were gods of the hills and gods of the valleys, of the land and of the sea, so each tribe rejoiced in its peculiar deities, looking on the natives of other countries who worshipped other gods as Gentiles, natural foes, unclean beings.”)(19) In the midst of the enjoyment, tribalism reappeared. Black messiahs, black madonnas, the black Jesus, “the Great Spirit,” the Jewish identification with the land and soil of Israel and charges that white Gentile America had been worshiping a localized self-created deity suddenly disturbed the peace. The issues of ethnicity and racism began to serve as the new occasions for a reexamination of the assumptions and often hidden biases of students of American religion.


Observers and Advocates of a Common Religion

For the sake of convenience, these students can be divided into two broadly defined schools. Members of the first seek some sort of spiritual “sameness,” if not for the whole human family, then at least for the whole American people. In the Protestant historical community this search is a kind of enlargement of the nineteenth- century evangelical vision typified by the words of Lyman Beecher in 1820:

The integrity of the Union demands special exertions to produce in the nation a more homogeneous character and bind us together with firmer bonds. . . . Schools, and academies, and colleges, and habits, and institutions of homogeneous influence . . . would produce a sameness of views, and feelings, and interests, which would lay the foundation of our empire upon a rock. Religion is the central attraction which must supply the deficiency of political affinity and interest.(20) (Emphasis mine)

Another spokesman of this tradition was theologian Charles Hodge, who in 1829 claimed that Americans were overcoming Europe’s problem of disunity by becoming one people, “having one language, one literature, essentially one religion, and one common soul.”(21)

In the course of time that vision had to be enlarged so that it could accommodate other Americans though many of these others have regularly complained ever since that Protestant views of “sameness” and “essentially one religion, and one common soul” were superimposed on non-Protestants. Many Roman Catholics, on a somewhat different set of terms, also affirmed a religious nationalism that transcended their particular creed.(22)

Historian Philip Schaff in 1855 observed continuing immigration and thought that a national amalgamation was going on. It would blend all European nationalities into a “Phoenix grave,” as he called it. From it they would rise to new life and new activity. Yet he still followed ethnocentric lines: this blending would be “in a new and essentially Anglo-Germanic form.”(23) Later, Frederick Jackson Turner, the historian who had wanted the “peopling of America” to be studied for the purposes of national self-understanding, chose to concentrate on the frontier. He argued that “in the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality or characteristics.”(24) His successors came to expect that a spiritual fusion would accompany the amalgamation of peoples.

Through the years the seekers of spiritual sameness or oneness and ethnic fusion or assimilation had to include the physical presence and spiritual strivings of ever more varied peoples. Those who advocated what John Dewey in 1934 had called A Common Faith(25) made little secret of their desire to overcome particularisms of religion, race and class. For some this desire may have been born of weariness over all tribal-religious warfare; for others, it grew out of conscious philosophical choices about reality, religion and nation.

In this spirit at the beginning of this period sociologist Robin M. Williams, Jr., wrote during 1951 that “Every functioning society has, to an important degree, a common religion. The possession of a common set of ideas, rituals, and symbols can supply an overarching sense of unity even in a society riddled with conflict.”(26) A year later, at the end of a long book on denominational varieties in American religion, J. Paul Williams moved beyond Robin Williams in the quest for a common national faith. He spoke of it as a “societal religion.” Williams favored teaching democracy as a religious ultimate, and mildly criticized men like Walter Lippmann for having been content to describe it merely as a “public philosophy” when it ought to have been termed a religion, and called moreover for “spiritual integration.”(27)

The dean of American church historians throughout this period, Sidney E. Mead, gave a generally positive interpretation of “the religion of the democratic society and nation” (over against “the religion of the denominations”). While he clearly retained a Lincolnian sense of judgment over against idolization of the nation, he also agreed with G. K. Chesterton’s observation that America is the “nation with the soul of a church,” and that it was “protected by religious and not racial selection.”(28) The question of racial or ethnic selection played only a very small part in Mead’s thought. He was critical of those who stressed religious and theological particularity at the expense of the idea of the nation’s “spiritual core.” Mead promoted Ronald Osborn’s suggestion that “a common type of faith and life . . . common convictions, a common sense of mission . . . could and should be the goal for Americans.”(29)

One did not have to be a promoter of the search for “sameness,” “oneness,” or a “common faith” or religion in order to point to their development after mid-century. Mead singled out Winthrop Hudson. Will Herberg and myself as three definers of societal religion who withheld consent from it because of interests in religious and theological particularity. It was true that during the Elsenhower, Nixon, and later the Reagan eras, many had been critical about priestly and nationalist forms of civil religion. This religion may have been sanctioned by a national majority,(30) but many members of the liberal academic community rejected it.

Most of the intellectuals’ affirmations of a generalized American religion came during and shortly after the brief era when John F. Kennedy seemed to be portraying a new spiritual style for America. It was in this mood and at this moment that Robert N. Bellah in 1967 attracted a latter-day market for the term “Civil Religion in America.” This was “at its best a genuine apprehension of universal and transcendent religious reality as seen in or, one could almost say, as revealed through the experience of the American people.”(31)

The defenses of the common vision as against the particular contention were based on historical observations of good moments in past American expressions of religious “sameness.” They also revealed philosophical commitments toward the higher unity. Most of the defenders overlooked ethnic and racial factors because these usually reinforced senses of difference. Rudolph J. Vecoli believes that “the prevailing ideology of the academic profession” which has been the “prime article of the American creed” has been a “profound confidence in the power of the New World to transform human nature.” Vecoli related this to Hector St. John Crevecoeur’s eighteenth-century discernment of a “new race of men,” a “new man,” this American, who, “leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men.” The result of this faith has been an “assimilationist ideology.”(32) In the nineteenth century Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others, kept this faith alive. Let immigrants come: “The energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and Cossacks, and all the European tribes–and of the Africans, and of the Polynesians,–will construct a new race, a new religion, a new state, a new literature.”(33) Regularly throughout American history, those who failed to be assimilated or who stressed separate racial, ethnic, or religious identities were embarrassments. Ethnicity became the skeleton in the closet and had to be prematurely pushed aside and hidden from view.


The Analysts and Defenders of Particularity

The other line of interpretation has been dedicated to the love of what the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz and the historian Marc Bloch spoke of as “singular things.”(34 ) Some representatives of this approach may have shared a concern for or belief in ultimate unity, but at least they recognized that pluralist terms for life in the civil order must be found. Against this background in 1958 Father John Courtney Murray, S.J., made his profound comments about religious pluralism being the human condition, the script of history, the troubler of the human city.(35)

The historians and analysts who dealt more critically with “sameness,” “oneness,” and “common” religion in America after mid-century ordinarily devoted themselves to the religious shape of this pluralism. Only as the result of the racial upheavals and the new ethnic consciousnesses which were manifested during the 1960s did some of them begin to perceive again that ethnicity has been the skeleton, “the supporting framework” of American religion. These historians and other observers have seen that racial, ethnic, class, partisan, religious and ideological conflicts in America have countered or qualified the homogenizing ideals that earlier held together the “consensus” schools of history. Some of them began to try to cope specifically with the ethnic pluralism that is also part of “the human condition.”

Some spokespersons for ethnic or racial pluralism and separatism have attached ideological commitments to their observations. Out of myriad possibilities the word of Thomas H. Clancy can be regarded as representative. Clancy quoted Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was one of the first to speak of the failure of assimilationist or “melting pot” theories to explain the American situation. Wrote Moynihan: “The sense of general community is eroding, and with it the authority of existing relationships, while, simultaneously, a powerful quest for specific community is emerging in the form of ever more intensive assertions of racial and ethnic identities.” Adds Clancy: “Black nationalism caused the white ethnics to remember what they had been taught to forget, their own origins.” Thus came his own theology of’ “unlikeness”:

The year 1970 is the date when the drive for group rights became more important than the struggle for individual rights. (In the demonstrations and rallies of the future, most signs will bear an ethnic adjective.). . . For a long time now we have been exhorted to love all men. We have finally realized that for sinful man this is an unrealistic goal. The saints and heroes among us will still face the challenge in a spirit of unyielding despair. The rest of us will try first to love our own kind. This is the year when ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ began to have a less universal and hence truer meaning.(36) (Emphasis mine)

Of course not all historians who tried to make sense of racial and ethnic particularism have shared this creed, but it is the common affirmation of many spokesmen for “differences” over against “sameness” in civil and religious life.

The two general approaches just described can lie best studied by reference to several prevailing models–many of them defined by sociologists–which are regularly used for historical explorations and contemporary analyses of the shape of American religion.


Sameness through Common Secularity

First, some advocates of “sameness” have chosen a secular interpretation of American religious life. In this view the belief is expressed that there will be progressively less religion in society. Secular people will unite on the basis of some sort of emergent godless, homogenizing, technological and political scheme. The result will be a global village marked by nonreligious synthesis for world integration.(37) The “secular theologians” of the 1960s shared this creed, as did many working historians.(38) In the view of British sociologist Bryan Wilson, participation in American church life could itself be called secularization, because on the legal basis of the nation’s formal secularity “religious commitment and Church allegiance have become elements in the American value system.” Wilson presupposed or observed that “the common values” embodied in religious institutions and the secular American Way of Life were rather simply congruent with each other.(39)

Seymour Martin Lipset, also writing in this frame of mind, dealt in passing with racial and ethnic groups and explained their continuing appearance in terms of cultural lag: “American religious denominations, like ethnic groups, have experienced collective upward mobility.” On these terms,

contemporary Negro religious behavior resembles that of the nineteenth-century lower status migrant white population. The Catholics have taken on the coloration of a fundamentalist orthodox religion comparable in tone and style, if not in theology, to the nineteenth-century evangelical Protestant sects.(40)

Because distinctive religious symbols have been connected with almost all the recently recovered movements of peoplehood, racial and ethnic, their spokesmen would not have been content to see themselves on Lipsets escalator. They would resist and stress their distinctive symbols (Afro-American, Amerindian, Chicano, and the like) rather than accommodate themselves to the secular trend of “the common values” of American life or simply be an element in the scheme of “upward collective mobility.”


Civil Unity, Religious Privacy

A second line of interpretation is close to the secular one. It simply says that a person’s beliefs are private affairs and thus have little common or civic consequence. Ideological support for this view is deep in the American tradition. While Thomas Jefferson supported the idea that those moral precepts “in which all religions agree” could be supportive of civil order, he believed differing private religions to be a societal luxury: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no God.”(41) One could be for sameness and for a common faith independent of private religious opinions. Religion, said philosopher Alfred North Whitehead in 1926, is “what the individual does with his own solitariness.”(42) Religion, for William James in 1903, had meant “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude.”(43)

These views find support in the conditions of modern urban and industrial life, says social theorist Thomas Luckmann. He claims that “the most revolutionary trait of modern society” is the fact that “personal identity becomes, essentially, a private phenomenon.” Religion, now housed in specialized institutions and religious opinions, has become “a private affair.” Each person selects a world of significance from a variety of choices. “The selection is based on consumer preference, which is determined by the social biography of the individual, and similar social biographies will result in similarchoices.” “Individual religiosity in modern society receives no massive support and confirmation from the primary institutions.”(44) Families, sect participation and the like are of some help, but cannot provide much support for community. Luckmann, unfortunately, does not dwell on ethnicity or race as religious factors in this context.

The new advocates of peoplehood, however, would contradict these pictures. “The new tribalism” accuses the American majority of having forced people to lose their identities by throwing all into the private sphere. One Indian summed it up long ago : “You are each a one-man tribe.” Another said: “The question is not how you can Americanize us but how we can Americanize you.”(45) Whether or not they succeed in the effort, the new ethnic and racial recoveries are designed to supplant the private interpretation of identity and religion, and historians at the very least have to explore these claims at a time when, as Luckmann and others point out, denominational and sectarian involvement supply little of either.


Religious, Not Ethnic, Pluralism

The third model for religion in America, the pluralist, moves the discussion to the center of the debate over “sameness” versus “unlikeness” on national versus ethnic-racial and religious lines.

The religious pluralist interpretation was born in the face of the problem of identity and power which increased as ethnic origins of Americans became progressively more remote and vague. In a sense, it served to push the skeleton of ethnicity into the closet. Thus Gerhard Lenski in 1961 condensed the thought of Will Herberg, the best-known representative of this view at mid-century:

Earlier in American history ethnic groups [provided community and identity] and individuals were able to enjoy this sense of communal identification and participation as members of the German, Polish, Italian, and other ethnic colonies established in this country. Today such groups have largely disintegrated, but many of the needs they served continue to be felt. In this situation, Herberg argues. Americans are turning increasingly to their religious groups, especially the three major faiths, for the satisfaction of their need for communal identification and belongingness.(46)

Herberg himself in 1955 had deplored the “sameness” or “common religion” schools, but he recognized the presence of a common faith in the “American Way of Life” as the ultimate. Identification with Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish religions were paths for reaching it.(47) E. Digby Baltzell, a student of the WASP establishment, observed in 1964 that “religious pluralism is replacing the ethnic pluralism of the earlier era.”48 Historian Arthur Mann, ten years earlier, had seen that in the matter of pluralism and a single religion of democracy “American Catholicism, American Protestantism, and American Judaism appear like parallel shoots on a common stock.”(49) John Cogley, after hosting a tri-faith conference on pluralism in relation to common religion in 1958, reported with favor on the response of one participant. This man had learned “that the free so ciety of America means more than an agreement to disagree; it is posited, rather, on the idea that Americans will disagree in order to agree.”(50)

Ethnic and racial pluralism, however, did not go away just be cause religious pluralism was able to serve some social purposes during the religious revival of the 1950s. Religionists themselves could not agree on the three-faith interpretation. Thus, Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff overstated the case somewhat when he said in 1960 that the Orthodox had later come to be recognized as a fourth “official” American faith.(51) Lenski, who asked no ethnic questions when he studied Detroit religion, did find that Herberg’s single “Protestantism” had had to be divided and understood on black/white lines, at least. The religious revival eventually waned, and many people in a new generation no longer found it possible or desirable to define themselves in terms of one of three religions. Most of all, ethnic and racial reassertion did provide identification a community for the “different,” who were dissenters against a common faith for all Americans.


Many Denominations, One Religion

The fourth interpretation has to be taken more seriously because of its obvious appropriateness on so many levels. This is an application to the whole of American Christianity by others of Sidney E. Mead’s classic statement that denominationalism is the shape of Protestantism in America. “Denominationalism is the new American way in Christianity,” wrote Karl Hertz.(52) Catholicism is also regarded as a denomination by historians. Judaism, too, is formally denominationalized.

At first glance it may seem to make little sense to say that the denominational interpretation tended to be favored by those who looked for a common religion. After all, denominations had been invented in order that they might protect peoples’ differing ways of looking at religious ultimates without permitting society to disintegrate. It turns out that they seem to have been clever but almost accidental inventions. They served to channel potential conflict out of possibly violent racial or ethnic spheres into harmless and irrelevant religious areas. Where are the dead bodies as the result of persistent denominational conflict?

In effect, argue the viewers of a single American community, denominationalism works just the opposite way. Two illustrations, one from a man who favors a secular and the other a religious scheme for seeing America, in that order, will serve. British sociologist Bryan Wilson, as we noted above, posited “secularization as the experience of Christianity” in America. In a long chapter he then discussed “Denominationalism and Secularization.” Denominationalism is “an aspect of secularization.” Using an interpretation which stressed class distinctions, Wilson saw “the diversity of denominations … as the successive stages in the accommodation of life-practice and ethos of new social classes as they emerged in the national life.” And denominational diversity “has in itself promoted a process of secularization.” The religious choices offered people effectively cancel out each other. Denominations exist and even thrive, but when people accept the ground rules of denominational civility they telegraph to others that society’s ultimate values are being bartered outside the sects, if anywhere.(53)

Sidney Mead’s religious interpretation works to similar effect. While the churches accepted denominationalism as a pattern which would guarantee their own integrity and relevance, in practice the opposite has happened. The competitive element in sectarian life has worked against the truth claims and the plausibility of the denominations. Those who seek religious affiliation of any sort cannot avoid denominations, though it is true that they need not necessarily repose their ultimate concerns in denominational formulations. In this context Mead includes one of his rare references to nationality and racial backgrounds:

[There has been] a general erosion of interest in the historical distinction and definable theological differences between the religious sects. Increasingly the competition among them seems to stem from such non-theological concerns as nationality or racial background, social status, and convenient accessibility of a local church. Finally what appears to be emerging as of primary distinctive importance in the pluralistic culture is the general traditional ethos of the large families. Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish. If this trend continues, the competition inherent in the system of church and state separation, which served to divide the religious groups in the first place, may work eventually to their greater unity.(54)

By the end of the paragraph, then, the ethnic skeleton has been placed back in the closet, and trends toward higher unity prevail in Mead’s world.

The matter was not resolved so easily, however. Denominational distinctiveness remained durable, as Charles Y. Glock in 1965 showed in an essay on “The New Denominationalism.”(55) Glock, basing his assertions on his findings of a population sample in California, disagreed with both Will Herberg on the theme of a “common religion” and with Robert Lee on there being a “common core Protestantism.” Glock is probably correct: great numbers of Americans do want to be loyal to their denominations. The interdenominational Consultation on Church Union, which would cluster and merge denominations, attracts little support. Non- and inter- and para- and counter-denominational, ecumenical ventures do not prosper. Despite this, it would be easy to overstress the importance of denominational pluralism.

For one thing, the denominations are divided down the center in a kind of two-party system. The differences on vital issues (such as racial and ethnic matters) are expressed within and not between denominations, as Jeffrey Hadden demonstrated in 1969.(56) What is more, on matters of deepest significance, even where denominational names have been useful, denominational designations reveal little. For example, black religion was denominationalized, but sectarian bonds have meant almost nothing across racial lines. Millions of southern blacks have been Baptist, but there was until recently almost no contact between them and Southern Baptists, the largest white Protestant group in America. The racist has looked at the Negro as a black, not as a Methodist or a Protestant. The black American has had little choice between church bodies when he wished to look for differences in attitudes among them. “Denomination mattered little, for support of the racist creed ran the gamut from urban Episcopalians to country Baptists,” wrote David Reimers concerning the late-nineteenth-century situation.(57)

Even among whites, ethnic lines usually undercut denominational interests. WASPs, for instance, once established a line-crossing mission to “Catholic Immigrants.” Theodore Abel wrote in 1933 that “in general the work among Catholic immigrants is carried on with the aim of promoting Americanization and breaking down the isolation of immigrants from American society by bringing them into the fellowship of the Protestant Church.” In the fifty years before 1933 between fifty and one hundred million dollars had been spent on the cause. But

The mission enterprise has failed to realize the main purpose for which it was instituted. It has failed to accomplish to any significant degree the evangelization of Catholic immigrants and their descendants, and it has not achieved the control that it sought of directing the process of their adaptation to American life. No movement toward Protestantism has taken place as a result of these missionary efforts.(58)

That report dealt with a half century during which Protestants had been notably missionary, expansionist and devoted toward transforming remote churches. But at home, ethnic factors served to frustrate such motives or achievements. Black, Indian, Chicano, white ethnic and other movements of peoplehood found neither the denominational shape nor the nation s soul to be as effective for promoting identity and power as they found race or ethnicity, which was still–or again–the skeleton or supporting framework for their religion.


A Common Religion

The fifth major line of interpretation has been implied throughout. In it “sameness,” “oneness,” and a “common faith” found their home in a societal or civil religion that informed, infused and inspired virtually the whole population. How does it fare in a time of new peoplehood or “new tribalism”? Its expression is complicated and compromised. At the very least it must be said that the racial or ethnic group “refracts the national cultural patterns of behavior and values through the prism of its own cultural heritage,” as Milton Gordon put it.(59) The black child in the ghetto or the Amerindian youngster may engage in ceremonies of civil religion. But they may think of something quite different from the world of the white child’s Pilgrims or Founders when they sing of a “land where my fathers died.” This is the land where their fathers were enslaved or killed. The symbols of societal religion can be used in more ways than one by separate groups.

Most of the movements of racial and ethnic consciousness have found it important to oppose militantly the symbols of civil religion, Historian Vincent Harding in 1968 defined Black Power itself as “a repudiation of the American culture-religion that helped to create a it and a quest for a religious reality more faithful to our own experience.”(60) An Indian does not want the white man’s religion. The Chicano detects the Protestant work ethic in the calls for his participation in a common civil religion. The white ethnic at his American Legion hall relates to civil religious symbols in a different way than does the Jewish member of the Americans for Democratic Action. The young WASP countercultural devotee rejects all American civil religion. The delineations of civil religion themselves are never universal in origin, content, ethos, or scope; they are informed by the experience of the delineators’ own ethnic subcommunities. Robert N. Bellah’s and Sidney E. Mead’s views are unexplainable except as expressions of particular WASP traditions. Orientals, Africans, Latin Americans ordinarily would neither bring Bellah’s and Mead’s kinds of questions nor find their kinds of answers in civil religion. As British observer Denis Brogan wrote concerning Bellah’s essay, “The emblems, the metaphors, the ‘note’ (as Newman might have put it) of public civil religion is Protestant, even when those symbols are used by Catholics, Jews, Greek Orthodox.”(61) It is precisely this feature that has led to attempts at rejection of civil religion and “common faith” on the part of so many ethnic and racial groups.

In summary, it would appear that the five main models for interpreting American religious “sameness”–the secular, the private, the pluralist, the denominational, and the common-religious–apply appropriately only to the white and largely generalized Protestant academic circles where they originated. Other ethnic-racial-religious complexes can be only occasionally and partially interpreted through these.


Ethnic and Racial Themes Reintroduced

To suggest that ethnic and racial themes have to be reintegrated into the schemes for posing historians’ questions was not to say that these should displace the others. The secular tendencies in America will probably not be successfully countered by the new religious practices of minority groups. Many people can find identity in the private sphere without explicit reference to ethnic and racial religious motifs. Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism may long serve to identify practitioners of a common American religion. Denominationalism may indeed be the shape, and civil religion the soul, of American religion–just as ethnicity is its skeleton or supporting framework. But as the most neglected theme until recently, racial and ethnic particularity deserves compensatory interest and inquiry.

Numerous benefits could result from such an effort. Concentration on religious dimensions of peoplehood could lead to a more accurate portraying of the way things have been–that is always the first goal of the historian. Historians in the once-majority traditions, WASP and white ethnic combined, can re-explore their own assumptions and may be able to discern the ethnic aspects in what they had earlier regarded as their universal points of view. The theories seeking “sameness” and “oneness” tended to be based on a kind of optimistic and voluntaristic spirit. Ethnic-racial recovery should help historians deal more adequately with the faded, pre-destined, tragic and even violent elements in religion in America.


Wasp Histories as Ethnic Expressions

In any case, WASP and white ethnic American historians would be able critically to revisit their own older traditions, traditions which were once racially and ethnically self-conscious, for better and for worse. When WASP is seen not as the norm but as an ethnic minority among minorities, the racial special pleading of the fathers appears in a different light. Robert Baird, whom many regard as the first historian of American religion, in 1843 insisted that “our national character is that of the Anglo-Saxon race,” and he ranked other ethnic groups downward from Anglo-Saxon.(62) Baird began his history with reference to the differences of Indian, Negro and other non-Anglo-Saxon peoples and kept them in mind consistently as he measured them in the light of his own racial norm.

Not only WASPs were particularists. Baird’s counterpart, John Gilmary Shea, the father of American Catholic historiography, was a spokesman for the Irish minority, and Catholic history has been consistently marked by ethnic distinctives.(63) Philip Schaff, a Continental “outsider,” had to invent artificial ways to blend his German-Swiss background with the Anglo-American dominant strain. Daniel Dorchester in 1890 criticized the German and Irish influx as people of “low habits and ideas, retaining supreme allegiance to a foreign pontiff, or controlled by radical, rationalistic, materialistic, or communistic theories. . . . Can Old World subjects be transformed into New World citizens?”(64) Even Leonard Woolsey Bacon, a man of ecumenical temperament and a devotee of religious “sameness,” spoke during 1898 in terms of “masterful races” in American white Protestantism.(65)

Josiah Strong–shall the historians claim him?–was explicitly racist in his accounting of American religion in the 1880s and 1890s. For Strong, the Anglo-Saxons religion was “more vigorous, more spiritual, more Christian than that of any other.” It was destined to “dispossess many weaker races, assimilate others, and mold the remainder, until, in a very true and important sense, it has Anglo-Saxonized mankind.”

If I do not read amiss, this powerful race will move down into Mexico, down upon Central and South America, out upon the island of the sea, over upon Africa and beyond. And can anyone doubt that the result of this competition will be the ‘survival of the fittest’?(66)

The themes of WASP ethnicity and superiority which had been explicit in the nineteenth century became implicit and taken for granted in the twentieth. The assimilationist ideal took over. In 1923 Peter Mode could write that “American Christianity has … no racial coloring and its Americanization as yet has been a process void of racialism,” a suggestion about America that would be incomprehensible to most of the world. Instead, said Mode, American Christianity has taken its character by having been “frontierized.”(67) Joining the frontierizing-sameness school was William Warren Sweet, who dealt at length with slavery, but most of whose energies were devoted to the white Protestant mainline churches as normal and normative. Sidney E. Mead changed the topic to denominationalism and a common national religion without picking up much interest in non-WASP religion.

On the other hand, Robert Handy s A Christian America: Protestant Hopes and Historical Realities (68) is one of the first important attempts by a WASP to come to terms with the WASP particularism which once had paraded itself as universalism. Handy stresses ethnic, racial and other conflict-inducing questions over against the interpretations which derived from the mid-century “sameness” and “oneness” schools.


The Future of Tribal Confederation

Even though the future is not the historian’s province, it is sometimes asked whether it is worth scholars’ efforts to retool so that they can henceforth include the ethnic and racial questions. The assimilating, blending, melting processes do remain and are accelerating. Yet ever new immigrations–Asian, Islamic, Hispanic–come to complicate the visions of “sameness” with which some would cope with pluralism. It would seem as if the plot will thin and thicken at the same time. While “ethnicity” can be a periodic fad, the attempt to understand the bonds of religion and peoplehood should continue to quicken anyone who would address issues of American pluralism, past and present. As the ethnic factor remains strong, certainly there will be times of crisis when a sort of “tribal confederation” will be instinctively and informally convoked so various peoples can get together and affirm their common, not their separate, symbols. The historians can then stand ready to interpret both the past interplay between conflicting particularities and homogenizing concordant elements in national life and the considerable assets and liabilities of each.

Whatever happens, however, it seems clear that not all human needs can be met by secular interpretation and private faith, by tri-faith or conventional denominational life, or by a common national religion. New particularisms will no doubt continue to arise, to embody the hopes of this “people of peoples.” Meanwhile, when representatives of the oldest of American peoples, the American Indian, assert that they wish to Americanize the rest of the nation and that they would like to teach their fellow citizens the merits of life in tribes, these other citizens could appropriately reply: “In some senses, we never left home.”


  1. Quoted in Lee Benson, Turner and Beard: American Historical Writing Reconsidered (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1960), p. 82.
  2. Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), popularized the concept of peoplehood, which is the “sense” of an ethnic, racial, or religious group. The word turns up frequently in literature on ethnicity and new movements.
  3. Sometimes these movements, among them Women’s Liberation, the New Left, “the counterculture,” and the like, speak of themselves in the terms of “peoplehood,” but this essay restricts itself to study of those groups which have at least a minimal claim on some sort of common ethnic origin and orientation. Significantly, the term worked its way into Webster’s New International Dictionary during the 1960s; it did not appear in the second edition (1960) but is present in the third (1969): “Peoplehood: the quality or state of constituting a people: also: awareness of the underlying unity that makes the individual a part of the people.”
  4. The literature on black religion is rapidly expanding; Hart M. Nelsen, Raytha L. Yokley, and Anne K. Nelson, The Black Church in America (New York: Basic Books, 1971) is an excellent anthology on every major aspect of the subject. The suggestion that 1968 was a watershed year in black religious consciousness appears in this book, pp. 17ff. Cleage is quoted on p. 18 and Bishop Herbert B. Shaw, speaking of ties to Asia and Africa, on p. 21. James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1970), is a representative charge that most of what had previously been seen to be a generalized and universal theology in America is actually an expression of “whiteness.” See also James J. Gardiner, S. A. and J. Deotis Roberts, Sr., Quest for a Black Theology (Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1971).
  5. Vine Deloria, We Talk, You Listen (New York: Macmillan, 1970) was a widely noticed expression of new American Indian assertiveness; it included an explicit suggestion that our impersonal, homogenized America should relearn the tribal model from the original Americans.
    Richard L. Rubenstein, “Homeland and Holocaust,” in Donald R. Cutler, The Religious Situation: 1968 (Boston: Beacon, 1968), p. 45.
  6. Arthur A. Cohen, The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), was written to help “break through the crust of harmony and concord which exists between Judaism and Christianity” and to help “destroy that in both communities which depends upon the other for authentication” (p. vii). Cohen believes that the myth of the common tradition was largely devised in America in the face of a secular religiosity; it induced two faiths to “join together to reinforce themselves in the face of a common disaster” (p. xix).
  7. Armando B. Rendon, Chicago Manifesto (New York: Macmillan, 1971), uses Rgures (p. 38) from a survey taken in November, 1969; 9.2 million persons claiming Spanish descent would represent 4.7 percent of the population. Three-quarters of this number were native born; the rest were immigrants, with half coming from Mexico. See also p. 325.
  8. Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, Puerto Rican Americans: The Meaning of a Migration (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971) is a brief but comprehensive survey of the situation of this minority.
  9. Richard M. Scammon and Ben J. Wattenberg, The Real Majority (New York: Coward-McCann, 1970), p. 66. Andrew M. Greeley, Why Can’t They Be Like Us? America’s White Ethnic Groups (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971) introduces this conglomeration of hitherto separate ethnic forces. He also points to the fact that in part because its members spoke English and were Catholic the large Irish immigrant group does not fit easily into “the white ethnic/white Anglo-Saxon Protestant” combination. Nor, it might be added, did Germans and Scandinavian Protestants, who did not speak English.
  10. References to the church as “the new people of God” can be found throughout Walter M. Abbott. S. J., ed., The Documents of Vatican II (New York: Guild Press, American Press, Assoc. Press, 1966). In actual practice, ethnocentrism, competing ethnic subcommunities, and isolated or rival “national” parishes throughout American history have blurred the vision of their being a single “people of God.”
  11. Ben J. Wattenberg and Richard M. Scammon, This U.S.A.: An Unexpected Family Portrait of 194,067,296 Americans Drawn from the Census (New York: Doubleday, 1965), pp. 45f.
  12. David Edwin Harrell, Jr., White Sects and Black Men in the Recent South (Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1971), p. viii.
  13. Lewis M. Killian, The Impossible Revolution (New York: Random House, 1968) p. 18. Richard L. Means, in The Christian Century, 78 (August 16, 1961), pp. 979-80, began to discuss the significance of Anti-Protestant Prejudice, a theme which subsequently received increasing attention, and which may serve to cause more WASPs to affirm the self-designation they had once shunned–if the experience of other more obvious victims of group prejudice is to be repeated in this instance. See also Peter Schrag, “The Decline of the Wasp,” in Harper’s Magazine, April 1970. While the WASPs “still hold power, they hold it with less assurance and with less legitimacy than at any time in history. . . . One can almost define their domains by locating the people and institutions that are chronically on the defense. . . . For the first time, any sort of settlement among competing interests is going to have to do more than pay lip service to minorities and to the pluralism of styles, beliefs, and cultures. . . . America is not on the verge of becoming two separate societies, one rich and white, the other poor and black. It is becoming, in all its dreams and anxieties, a nation of outsiders for whom no single style or ethnic remains possible. . . . We will now have to devise ways of recognizing and assessing the alternatives. The mainstream is running thin.”
  14. This definition and two subsequent definitions of skeleton are from the Oxford English Dictionary.
  15. Charles H. Anderson, White Protestant Americans: From National Origins to Religious Group (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971), p. viii. “Every American, as we shall use the term, is a member or potential member of an ethnic group–racial, religious, or national in origin.”
  16. See Max Weber, “Ethnic Croups,” trans. Ferdinand Kolegar, in Talcott Parsons et al., Theories of Society, vol. 1 (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1961), pp. 305ff. “Any aspect or cultural trait, no matter how superficial, can serve as a starting point for the familiar tendency to monopolistic closure.” “Almost any kind of similarity or contrast of physical type and of habits can induce the belief that a tribal affinity or disaffinity exists between groups that attract or repel each other.” “The belief” in tribal kinship, regardless of whether it has any objective foundation, can have important consequences especially for the formation of a political community. Those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent–because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration–in such a way that this belief is important for the continuation of non-kinship communal relationship we shall call ‘ethnic’ groups, regardless of whether an objective blood relationship exists or not.” “Behind all ethnic diversities there is somehow naturally the notion of the ‘chosen people,’ which is nothing else but a counterpart of status differentiation translated into the plane of horizontal coexistence. The idea of a chosen people derives its popularity from the fact that it can be claimed to an equal degree by any and every member of the mutually despising groups.”
  17. Anderson, pp. 43ff, locates Swedes with WASPs. “They have been granted WASP status on the basis of their successful adaptation to Anglo-Saxon America. In a sense even today Scandinavians are second-class WASPs; nevertheless, Scandinavians know that it is better to be a second-class WASP than a non-WASP in American society.”
  18. Rudolph J. Vecoli, “Ethnicity: A Neglected Dimension of American History,” in Herbert J. Bass, The State of American History (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1970), pp. 70ff, sets the stage for the present essay on religious historiography.
  19. Quoted in Carlton J. H. Hayes, Nationalism: A Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1960), pp. 20f. Hayes provides one of the best analyses of the dimensions of national cultural religions in chap. 12, pp. 154ff.
  20. Lyman Beecher, Address of the Charitable Society for the Education of Indigent Pious Young Men for the Ministry of the Gospel (Concord, Mass., 1820), p. 20.
  21. Charles Hodge, “Anniversary Address,” in The Home Missionary, vol. 2 (New York, 1829), p. 18.
  22. Dorothy Dohen, Nationalism and American Catholicism (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967) brings testimony of numerous nineteenth-century Roman Catholic leaders on this subject.
  23. Philip Schaff, America: A Sketch of Its Political, Social, and Religious Character (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 51.
  24. Quoted by Vecoli, p. 75.
  25. John Dewey, A Common Faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934). While the book uses the term Cod, it is nontheistic and advocates an imaginatively based synthesis or unification of values in which the many take part.
  26. Robin M. Williams, Jr., American Society: A Sociological Interpretation (New York: Knopf, 1951), p. 312,
  27. J. Paul Williams, What Americans Believe and How They Worship (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), pp. 477-592. The first edition appeared in 1952.
  28. See especially Sidney E. Mead, “The Nation with the Soul of a Church,” Church History, vol. 36, no. 3 (September 1967), pp. 262ff. Williams quotes Mead with favor, p. 479, in reference to the religion of the democratic society versus the religion of the denominations.
  29. Sidney E. Mead, “The Post-Protestant Concept and America’s Two Religions,” in Robert L. Ferm, Issues in American Protestantism: A Documentary History from the Puritans to the Present (Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1969), pp.387f. Following Paul Tillich’s distinction, it might be said that Mead affirmed “the catholic substance” in a common national religion because he trusted the presence of “the protestant principle” of prophetic protest. Those Mead criticized tended to stress “the protestant principle” even where they affirmed the common faith because they feared that its “catholic substance” could be idolized or imposed on people.
  30. William Lee Miller, Piety Along, the Potomac: Notes on Politics and Morals in the Fifties (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1964); Stephen C. Rose, Sermons Not Preached in the White House (New York; Baron, 1970).
  31. Robert N. Bellah, “Civil Religion in America,” reprinted in Cutler, pp. 331ff., especially p. 346. The paper was first presented at a conference in May 1966, before the liberal academic community had largely turned its back on the Johnson administration. After the escalation of the Vietnam War, the rise of the New Left and the intensification of Black Power movements, this community was somewhat less congenial to the expressions of a national religion once again.
  32. Vecoli, pp. 74f. Crevecoeur first published his Letters from an American Farmer in 1782.
  33. Quoted by Stuart P. Sherman in Essays and Poems of Emerson (New York, 1921), p. xxxiv.
  34. Marc Bloch, The Historian’s Craft (New York: Vintage, 1964), p. 8. Such a “thrill of learning singular things” was not characteristic of Leibnitz, who tried to transcend variety and pluralism. Over against this, William James posed A Pluralistic Universe (New York: Longmans, Green, 1909), which may be seen as the philosophical grandfather of the American schools which tolerate or encourage particularisms.
  35. John Courtney Murray, S. J., We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960), p. 23.
  36. In America, January 9, 1971, pp. 10f.
  37. Secular and religious approaches to world integration are sketched by W. Warren Wagar, The City of Man: Prophecies of a World Civilization in Twentieth-Century Thought (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1963).
  38. For a review of secular theologians’ positions, see Martin E. Marty, “Secularization in the American Public Order,” in Donald A. Giannella, Religion and the Public Order, no. 5 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969), pp. 33f, and “Secular Theology as a Search for the Future,” in Albert Schlitzer, C. S. C., ed., The Spirit and Power of Christian Secularity (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969), pp. 1ff.
  39. Bryan Wilson, Religion in Secular Society: A Sociological Comment (Baltimore, Md.: Penguin, 1966), pp. 40ff, and 121.
  40. Seymour Martin Lipset, The First New Nation: The United States in Historical and Comparative Perspective (New York: Basic Books, 1963), pp. 151f.
    Jefferson to J. Fishback, September 27, 1809, in Albert Ellery Bergh, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, 1905), vol. 12, 314-16; the second reference is quoted by Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950), vol. 1, 335.
  41. Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York: Macmillan, 1926), p. 58.
  42. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (New York; Longmans, Green, 1903), p. 31.
  43. Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society (New York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 97f., 105f. While Jefferson, Whitehead, and James often advocated private limitations of religion, Luckmann merely observes it and regards it as a burden for moderns seeking an identity.
  44. Quoted in Edgar S. Cahn, ed., Our Brother’s Keeper: The Indian in White America (New York and Cleveland: World, 1969), pp. 184, 175.
  45. Gerhard Lenski, The Religious Factor: A Sociological Study of Religions Impact on Politics, Economics, and Family Life (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), p. 11.
  46. Will Herberg, Protestant, Catholic, Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955), pp. 88-102. Lenski and Herberg did not regard the common religion of America with favor. Among those who did were Horace M. Kallen, in Secularism Is the Will of God (New York: Twayne, 1954) and Duncan J. Hewlett, though they treated secularism or humanism as The Fourth American Faith (New York: Harper and Row, 1964), which still had to contend for place with Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism. Samuel A.
  47. Mueller, “The New Triple Melting Pot: Herberg Revisited,” in Review of Religious Research, vol. 13, no. 1 (Fall 1971), suggests that a new set of categories should be “white Christian, white non-Christian, and black.” He bases this on a sociological study of lines between these and Herberg’s three groups in the matters of “marriage, friendship, residence, occupations, and politics.”
  48. E. Digby Baltzell, The Protestant Establishment (New York: Random House, 1964), p. 53.
  49. Arthur Mann, “Charles Fleischer’s Religion of Democracy,” in Commentary, June 1954, p. 557.
  50. John Cogley, ed., Religion in America: Original Essays on Religion in a Free Society (New York: Meridian, 1958), p. 9.
  51. John Meyendorff, The Orthodox Church: Its Past and Its Role in the World Today (New York: Pantheon, 1960), p. 107.
  52. Mead’s essay is reprinted in Sidney E. Mead. The Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America (New York: Harper and Row), 103ff. Karl Hertz writes on denominationalism in “Some Suggestions for a Sociology of American Protestantism,” in Herbert T. Neve and Benjamin A. Johnson, The Maturing of American Lutheranism (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg, 1968), pp. 36, 42.
  53. Wilson, pp. 47, 51.
  54. Sidney E. Mead, The Lively Experiment, pp. 132f.
  55. Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark, Religion and Society in Tension (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1965), pp. 86f.
  56. Jeffrey K. Hadden. The Gathering Storm in the Churches: The Widening Cap between Clergy and Laymen (Garden City, N.Y, 1969), especially chap. 4, “Clergy and Laity View the Civil Rights Issue.”
  57. David Reimers, White Protestantism and the Negro (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 29.
  58. Quoted in Benson Y. Landis, Protestant Experience with United States Immigration, 1910-1960 (New York: Church World Service, 1961), pp. 12f.
  59. Gordon, p. 38.
  60. Vincent Harding, “Black Power and the American Christ,” in Floyd B. Barbour The Black Power Revolt: A Collection of Essays (New York: Collier, 1968), p. 97.
  61. Denis W. Brogan, “Commentary,” in Cutler, p. 357.
  62. Robert Baird, Religion in the United States of America (Glasgow, 1843); see chap. 6, p. 35ff.
  63. John Gilmary Shea, The History of the Catholic Church in the United States (New York, 1886-92), four volumes.
  64. Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States (New York: Hunt and Eaton, 1890), p. 765.
  65. Leonard Woolsey Bacon, A History of American Christianity (New York: Scribners, 1898), p. 292.
  66. Josiah Strong, The New Era; or The Coming Kingdom (New York, 1893), pp. 54-55; Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis (New York, 1885), pp. 178, 174-75.
  67. Peter Mode, The Frontier Spirit in American Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1923), pp. 6, 7, 14. Mode-Sweet-Mead represent a University of Chicago succession which is most familiar to me. See also William Warren Sweet. The Story of Religion in America (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1930); another student in this tradition, along with Robert T. Handy (see n. 68), is Winthrop S. Hudson, whose Religion in America (New York: Scribner’s, 1965) pioneered at least in it sense of proportion, since it devoted much attention to black Protestantism, Judaism and other non-WASP religious groups.
  68. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. For another attempt to isolate WASP history and to treat WASPs as an ethnic group, see Martin E. Marty, Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America (New York: Dial, 1970).
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