American Religious Exceptionalism: A Reconsideration
The first part of this article deals with religion in the United States in the context of American exceptionalism. At least since Tocqueville, observers have noted that a distinctive national characteristic of the United States is its religious vitality. In addition to commonly cited aspects of religious activism, it is also argued here that this exceptional vitality is reflected in the periodical mass or public renewals of the religious life and, stemming from Puritanism, in the diffusion of religious elements to other social contexts. A second theme presented in this article is that the three major religious orientations—Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism—not only fill an important niche as providers of social identity but also have found in the United States an exceptional historical setting. © 1993, SAGE PERIODICALS PRESS. All rights reserved.
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