Beyond Toleration

Beyond Toleration : The Religious Origins of American Pluralism

3.76 (13 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

At its founding, the United States was one of the most religiously diverse places in the world. Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers, Dutch Reformed, German Reformed, Lutherans, Huguenots, Dunkers, Jews, Moravians, and Mennonites populated the nation's towns and villages. Dozens of new denominations would emerge over the succeeding years. What allowed people of so many different faiths to forge a nation together? In this richly told story of ideas, Chris Beneke demonstrates how the United States managed to overcome the religious violence and bigotry that characterized much of early modern Europe and America. The key, Beneke argues, did not lie solely in the protection of religious freedom. Instead, he reveals how American culture was transformed to accomodate the religious differences within it. The expansion of individual rights, the mixing of believers and churches in the same institutions, and the introduction of more civility into public life all played an instrumental role in creating the religious pluralism for which the United States has become renowned. These changes also established important precedents for future civil rights movements in which dignity, as much as equality, would be at stake. Beyond Toleration is the first book to offer a systemic explanation of how early Americans learned to live with differences in matters of the highest importance to them - and how they found a way to articulate these differences civilly. Today when religious conflicts once again pose a grave danger to democratic experiments across the globe, Beneke's book serves as a timely reminder of how one country moved past toleration and towards religous pluralism.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 162.6 x 236.2 x 30.5mm | 589.68g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195305558
  • 9780195305555

About Chris Beneke

Chris Beneke is Assistant Professor of History at Bentley College in Waltham, MA. He received his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his PhD from Northwestern University.show more

Review quote

In this well-written book, Chris Beneke argues that American colonials, even before the American revolution, had moved beyond the legal 'toleration' of religious dissenters to create a pluralist culture that made the category of 'religous dissenter' irrelavent. Several centuries later Americans still wrestle with the meaning of cultural pluralism, but Beneke correctly insists that men and women of ardent faith first made the concept central to the concept of liberty. * R. Laurence Moore, author of Touchdown Jesus: The Mixing of Sacred and Secular in American History * Written in a sparkling style, this book exhibits a comprehensiveness - both in the text and in the notes - that wins immediate confidence. Moreover, the theme of the development of religious liberty in America is one whose significance can hardly be exaggerated. Readers will be richly informed by this wise and perceptive book. * Edwin S Gaustad, author of Roger Williams and Benjamin Franklin * I know of no book that traces the historical transition from toleration to religious liberty in America as well as this one. This highly readable and well-documented text is sure to enjoy a wide readership. * Derek H Davis, author of Religion and the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original Intent *show more

Rating details

13 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 15% (2)
4 54% (7)
3 23% (3)
2 8% (1)
1 0% (0)
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