America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity by Robert WuthnowAmerica and the Challenges of Religious Diversity by Robert Wuthnow

America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity

byRobert Wuthnow

Paperback | July 22, 2007

Pricing and Purchase Info

$52.65 online 
$58.50 list price save 10%
Earn 263 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of other non-Western religions have become a significant presence in the United States in recent years. Yet many Americans continue to regard the United States as a Christian society. How are we adapting to the new diversity? Do we casually announce that we "respect" the faiths of non-Christians without understanding much about those faiths? Are we willing to do the hard work required to achieve genuine religious pluralism?

Award-winning author Robert Wuthnow tackles these and other difficult questions surrounding religious diversity and does so with his characteristic rigor and style. America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity looks not only at how we have adapted to diversity in the past, but at the ways rank-and-file Americans, clergy, and other community leaders are responding today. Drawing from a new national survey and hundreds of in-depth qualitative interviews, this book is the first systematic effort to assess how well the nation is meeting the current challenges of religious and cultural diversity.

The results, Wuthnow argues, are both encouraging and sobering--encouraging because most Americans do recognize the right of diverse groups to worship freely, but sobering because few Americans have bothered to learn much about religions other than their own or to engage in constructive interreligious dialogue. Wuthnow contends that responses to religious diversity are fundamentally deeper than polite discussions about civil liberties and tolerance would suggest. Rather, he writes, religious diversity strikes us at the very core of our personal and national theologies. Only by understanding this important dimension of our culture will we be able to move toward a more reflective approach to religious pluralism.

Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger '52 Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. His previous books include After the Baby Boomers, Saving America? Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society (both Princeton); Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist; and ...
Title:America and the Challenges of Religious DiversityFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pagesPublished:July 22, 2007Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691134111

ISBN - 13:9780691134116


Table of Contents

List of Tables ix

Preface xi

Introduction Confronting Diversity 1

Chapter 1: A Special People in a Diverse World 8

First Encounters 10

Toward a New Nation 14

From Missions to Comparative Religion 19

The Tripartite Settlement 30

Beyond Christian America? 34

Chapter 2: The New Diversity 37

American Hindus 38

American Buddhists 47

American Muslims 56

Living among Christians 63

Pluralism or Coexistence? 73

Chapter 3: The Signi .cance of Religious Diversity 75

A Threat to Democracy? 78

Fairness and Decency 84

Challenges to American Values 88

Religion as Moral Order 95

Chapter 4: Embracing Diversity: Shopping in the Spiritual Marketplace 106

Trev Granger's Story 108

Becoming a Spiritual Shopper 110

The Shopping Mentality 119

Toward a New Consciousness? 126

Chapter 5: "Many Mansions": Accepting Diversity 130

Sandra Michaelson: Beauty in Every Religion 133

Coming to Terms with Diversity 135

How to Be an Inclusive Christian 143

Envisioning an Inclusive Society 153

Chapter 6: "One Way" : Resisting Diversity 159

Trisha Mobley: "It Is Written" 160

The Road to Resistance 163

Maintaining an Exclusivist Worldview 173

The Social Implications of Christian Exclusivism 183

Chapter 7: The Public's Beliefs and Practices 188

Beliefs about Religious Truth 190

Views of America 198

The Impact of Non-Western Religions 201

Social and Cultural Factors 208

Interreligious Contact and Attitudes 212

Interreligious Programs 220

Conclusions 228

Chapter 8: How Congregations Manage Diversity 230

What Churches Are Doing 233

The Role of Theology 237

Strategies of Avoidance 244

Strategies of Engagement 247

The Imprint of Pluralism 253

Beyond Insularity? 255

Chapter 9: Negotiating Religiously Mixed Marriages 259

Falling in Love 260

Negotiating with Religious Authorities 264

The Parsing of Practices 270

Disaggregating Religious Identities 276

The Normalization of Diversity 278

From Religion to Culture 281

Chapter 10: How Pluralistic Should We Be? 286

Reflective Pluralism 287

The Case for Cooperation 292

An Effort to Promote Understanding 295

Multiple Models 299

Why Interreligious Efforts Fail 301

How Interreligious Efforts Succeed 303

What Else Needs to Be Done 305

Extrapolating to Other Kinds of Diversity 306

The Challenges Ahead 308

Notes 315

Selected Bibliography 351

Index 371

Editorial Reviews

"This is a wonderful book. I know of no other works that interrogate the contradictions between the historical sense many Americans hold that America is a "Christian nation" and the current realities and challenges of religious diversity and pluralism. It is a very thorough, penetrating examination of a topic that requires immediate attention."-Lynn Davidman, Brown University