North American Religious Communities

Wade Clark Roof

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 North American Religious Communities

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Religion in contemporary North America reflects the dynamic interplay of two widespread modernizing trends: pluralism and privatization. The societies of both the United States and Canada took shape culturally and religiously by migrant streams and continue to be shaped by them. From the beginning, there was far more religious pluralism in both Canada and the United States than history books would suggest. Though the dominant culture was Christian and Christian churches were institutionalized, enjoying a large following, there was nonetheless a rival Theosophical and New Thought movement manifesting itself in a variety of ways. They brought to American culture elements of spiritualism, nature worship, holistic thinking, and mind-cure. Less visible and less driven to proselytization, these movements have exerted greater influence than often has been acknowledged, and particularly so in urban centers. Also, there has been a fair amount of religious and cultural exchange among traditions as a result of encounters between Angles and Africans, Protestants and Catholics, Euro-Americans and indigenous people.

Keywords: North America; United States; Canada; pluralism; privatization; holistic thinking; Protestants; Catholics; spiritualism; nature worship

Article.  3135 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations

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