American Christianities

A History of Dominance and Diversity

Edited by Catherine A. Brekus, W. Clark Gilpin

544 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 29 illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7213-0
    Published: December 2011
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6914-7
    Published: December 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8371-1
    Published: December 2011

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From the founding of the first colonies until the present, the influence of Christianity, as the dominant faith in American society, has extended far beyond church pews into the wider culture. Yet, at the same time, Christians in the United States have disagreed sharply about the meaning of their shared tradition, and, divided by denominational affiliation, race, and ethnicity, they have taken stances on every side of contested public issues from slavery to women's rights.

This volume of twenty-two original essays, contributed by a group of prominent thinkers in American religious studies, provides a sophisticated understanding of both the diversity and the alliances among Christianities in the United States and the influences that have shaped churches and the nation in reciprocal ways. American Christianities explores this paradoxical dynamic of dominance and diversity that are the true marks of a faith too often perceived as homogeneous and monolithic.


Catherine L. Albanese, University of California, Santa Barbara

James B. Bennett, Santa Clara University

Edith Blumhofer, Wheaton College

Ann Braude, Harvard Divinity School

Catherine A. Brekus, University of Chicago Divinity School

Kristina Bross, Purdue University

Rebecca L. Davis, University of Delaware

Curtis J. Evans, University of Chicago Divinity School

Tracy Fessenden, Arizona State University

Kathleen Flake, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

W. Clark Gilpin, University of Chicago Divinity School

Stewart M. Hoover, University of Colorado at Boulder

Jeanne Halgren Kilde, University of Minnesota

David W. Kling, University of Miami

Timothy S. Lee, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

Dan McKanan, Harvard Divinity School

Michael D. McNally, Carleton College

Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

Jon Pahl, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Sally M. Promey, Yale University

Jon H. Roberts, Boston University

Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

About the Authors

Catherine A. Brekus is associate professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is author of Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 and editor of The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past.
For more information about Catherine A. Brekus, visit the Author Page.

W. Clark Gilpin is the Margaret E. Burton Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he served as dean from 1990 to 2000.
For more information about W. Clark Gilpin, visit the Author Page.


“College and seminary teachers could profitably use these essays to supplement a textbook or collection of documents. Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers.”--Choice

"This volume's essayists explore this paradoxical dynamic of dominance and diversity of a faith that is often perceived as homogeneous and monolithic."--American Catholic Studies Newsletter

“A serious reader comes away with a sense of the excitement generated by recent scholarship.”--The Living Church

American Christianities does an admirable job of illustrating just how diverse Christianity is and always has been in the U.S.” --Anthropology Review

“The ambitious project of recasting the history of American Christianities has just begun; we should be grateful to Brekus, Gilpin, and their many collaborators for so effectively mapping a path and taking the first steps.”--Journal of Southern Religion

"Essential reading. . . . A treasure of insight."--American Catholic Studies