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date: 26 May 2017

The Spatial Dynamics of American Religious Pluralism

Summary and Keywords

American religious pluralism is not simply diversity but a dynamic process of interaction and exchange. Its core is a spatial politics in which religious groups create meaningful spaces and interact with other groups similarly engaged, sometimes cooperatively and sometimes apprehensively and even violently. This dynamic is configured by a longstanding pattern of Anglo-Protestant dominance coupled with a widespread though tension-filled acceptance of religious pluralism. This dynamic has been particularly dramatic and intense since the 1960s because of an increase in the numbers of adherents of non-Protestant and non-Western religions in the United States and an increase in the degree to which religious groups have sought a more active and visible involvement in American life. One can observe the American pluralist dynamic functioning spatially at three interlocking levels—regional, local, and national—with spatial politics playing out differently in different locations depending on a variety of factors. As the new century opens, new factors such as globalization, virtual communication, and heterolocalism come increasingly into play.

Keywords: pluralism, space, geography, region, ethnicity, globalization, transnationalism, cyberspace

Religious practice is fundamentally spatial. Like all areas of human activity and experience, it occurs in and in relation to the space that constitutes the habitable surface of the earth. Seeking, according to one definition, “to order life in terms of culturally perceived ultimate priorities,” it generates specific geographic, physical manifestations as believers seek, according to geographer Roger Stump, “spatial realization of their beliefs.” Using space as “the medium within which … meanings become specific and concrete,” people practicing and living their religions make themselves homes on the earth’s surface; that is, they invest certain locations on the earth’s surface, whether natural or built environments, with particular spiritual significance through such ritual acts as worship, prayer, meditation, and sacrifice. They then become deeply attached to such spaces as foundations of their individual and collective identities.1

Religious pluralism, meanwhile, is not simply diversity—by definition a static fact—but an ongoing and complex dynamic involving encounter, engagement, and exchange among diverse religious individuals and groups in a civic context that provides rules of engagement. Because religion is a space-making practice, religious pluralism necessarily involves multiple, overlapping, competing, and often conflicting spatial claims—a politics or geopolitics of religious space in which individual and group claimants are required to engage, or at least remain mindful of, other claimants in the society. In other words, it is fundamentally a system of spatial interaction. Those who have staked a claim, invested a space with particular meaning, and transformed it into their own place may experience the presence of others as a welcome development, in which case they redefine their space to accommodate the change; or they may see others as territorial intruders, in which case they try defensively to reassert their own place meanings. Pluralism, then, entails conversations, sometimes controversial, over where people can locate the symbols and practices of their faiths, and over how and whether people expressing their religion can impact the landscape.

The religious spatial dynamic in the American context has been conditioned by the particularities of United States religious history. That history began with subjugation of indigenous peoples, followed by the consolidation of colonies in which European Christians—above all, English Protestants—established geographic control and numerical, political, economic, social, cultural, and religious dominance. Although English Protestants were joined at the outset by Catholics, Jews, non-English Protestants, and Africans, and later by practitioners of the world’s nonwestern religions, the pattern of Anglo-Protestant dominance and marginalization of others remained a fact of American life well into the 20th century and left a deep and lasting imprint on American life. Only in the 1950s did Americans begin in sizable numbers to think of the country as “Judeo-Christian” rather than simply “Protestant” or “Christian,” and the new immigration of the last third of the 20th century has only begun to displace that more recent perception. This means that, despite the pluralist vision of parity and harmonious exchange among the nation’s religious groups, the actual geopolitics of religious space in the United States is grounded in a longstanding pattern of interreligious hostility and the “historically persistent” reality in multicultural America of well-established, deeply rooted power differentials.

Still, the dynamic of American religious pluralism has been equally driven by the widespread acceptance—if not always an active or heartfelt embrace—of diversity. A national commitment to religious tolerance developed out of the practical social and political realities of diversity during the colonial period, finding its definitive expression in the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom. This guarantee defined the national space as officially neutral, one in which any group could with equal legitimacy stake a claim. It also amounted to a set of rules of spatial engagement that has profoundly shaped the geographic manifestations and results of the pluralist dynamic. As if to underscore the recently amplified centrality of geography and space in its functioning, it has been supplemented by the Religious Land Use Act of 2000, intended to reduce burdens on religious exercise resulting from zoning laws and other land use regulations. The national ideology of pluralism has changed over the past two centuries, moving from toleration (within a Protestant framework) to Anglocentric assimilationism to approval and embrace of religious difference, but the underlying ground rules have remained the same.2

An important recent change in the dynamic of American religious pluralism, and of the spatial politics at its core, has made it still more dramatic, intense, and challenging in the past three or so decades. The radically expanded diversity of the American religious scene since the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act (which abolished the national origins quota system that had defined U.S. immigration policy since the 1920s), together with the intensifying identity politics that grew from the civil rights movement, prompted a shift to a more “active” pluralistic style. Departing from the more “passive” pluralism that preceded it, the nation’s religious groups, especially those that perceive themselves to be excluded from the putative “mainstream,” have increasingly sought not merely toleration but meaningful participation in American life. In geographic terms, active pluralism has translated into increasingly assertive efforts by minority groups to impress their religious worlds and meanings on public space, to stake and when necessary defend as equally legitimate their claims to the landscape—in short, to move an increasingly diverse United States in the direction of what scholars call “spatial equity” and “spatial justice.”3

Driven by an expanding multiplicity of emotionally charged and increasingly assertive claims on limited space against a historical backdrop of Anglo-Protestant and “Judeo-Christian” cultural dominance, the nation’s pluralist dynamic perhaps inevitably generates social, political, and cultural tension. This tension manifests itself in certain characteristic spatial patterns and practices. Groups seeking to carve out worlds of meaning, or to protect their worlds from perceived transgression or defilement amid the multiplicity of others occupying American space, have exhibited many kinds of spatial behavior. They have drawn imagined and often physical boundaries around themselves, forming enclaves, and excluded others, sometimes forcibly. They have appropriated space for themselves and excluded or dispossessed others, sometimes violently, as in cases of arson, vandalism, desecration, or protest-driven seizure. More positively, they have sometimes worked out space-sharing arrangements, in some cases with and in some without the intent of engaging in social or cultural exchange but in all cases with a commitment to avoiding conflict and seeking cooperative coexistence. The United States appears from this perspective to be not a single coherent space but rather a contested arena; its religious life is an ongoing and complex pluralistic spatial dynamic—sometimes cooperative, sometimes contentious, sometimes downright violent.

Because American public space is not amenable to exclusive claims under the ground rules of American religious pluralism, groups seeking to reify their religious worlds and stake their claims have often turned with particular urgency, as suggested at the outset of this essay, to building construction. The late religious studies professor Richard E. Wentz has observed that in a culture of religious pluralism, religious groups rely heavily on sacred buildings to express and preserve their identities. An officially pluralistic state and neutral public square make this form of spatial claiming especially important by forcing believers to create privately owned markers of their presence—to engage in acts of religious territoriality. In the United States, buildings have become religious communities’ perhaps most visible symbols. But their attempts to project their religious worlds tangibly in American space often brings them into tense encounter and, often, conflict. As the frequency and intensity of such interreligious interactions have multiplied, the nation’s courts, town and city councils, and zoning boards have become crucially important sites of encounter—in effect, the official mediators of American religious pluralism and shapers of its spatial expressions.4

The spatial dynamics of American religious pluralism operate at three distinct but interrelated geographic levels: regions, broad portions of the United States defined by characteristic styles of pluralism; local encounters in cities and suburbs; and the national level, where the meaning of the American space writ large is at stake. In the 21st century, new avenues of exploration and scales of religious territoriality ensure the ongoing dynamism of American religious pluralism and of the scholarship addressing it.

Pluralism in American Regional Spaces

One of the most frequently invoked and influential concepts in studies of American religion is region—a geocultural entity generated and defined by ongoing interactions between human beings and particular portions of the earth’s surface. The most oft-cited American religious regions, first proposed in 1961 by geographer Wilbur Zelinsky, are a New England region, a Midland region (with a Pennsylvania German subregion), an Upper Middle Western region, a Southern region (with Carolina Piedmont, Peninsular Florida, French Louisiana, and Texas German subregions), a Spanish Catholic region, a Mormon region, and a Western region. Though sometimes tweaked in subsequent treatments, this basic regional schema remains predominant. Until recently, regional approaches and schemata have focused on religious diversity, examining the spatial distribution or regional characteristics of religious groups. But scholars now suggest that the nation’s religious regions are definable not only by their demographic profiles but by distinct, geographically and culturally conditioned styles of pluralism—characteristic kinds of alliances and tensions among the religious groups occupying regional spaces. In making this point, Mark Silk and Andrew Walsh have developed a somewhat different regional categorization that they both outline and flesh out in the nine volumes of their Religion by Region series. This system can provide a framework for understanding the various styles of religious pluralism at play in the United States.5

One region includes the mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, along with Washington, DC. Located on the Atlantic seaboard and punctuated by several urban ports of entry, this region has since colonial times attracted large numbers of immigrants and been distinguished from other American religious regions by its enormous religious diversity. Its varied peoples have usually separated themselves spatially and sought to maintain the cultural links between their religious and ethnic identities. The first region to include large populations of European Catholics and Jews, it became the inspiration for sociologist Will Herberg’s famed 1955 proclamation of a “Judeo-Christian” America characterized by pluralistic parity among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews—a formulation proposed as nationally normative but in fact most applicable to the mid-Atlantic space. Since 1965, the region has become much more diverse, including Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Latino and Asian Catholics and Protestants, and ultraorthodox Jews, all of whom have established their own ethnoreligious worlds in often densely populated urban and suburban spaces. But as a distinctive American religious space, the mid-Atlantic region remains characterized by the ongoing negotiation of religious and ethnic boundaries.

A Midwestern region, consisting of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska, shares the mid-Atlantic’s ethnoreligious diversity—including powerful Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish elements—though its different geographic conditions have generated a different kind of religious demography and pluralistic dynamic. Settlement in the early 19th century by migrants from New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the upper South resulted in a Protestant diversity that included strong mainline and evangelical (especially Baptist) components. Its fertile land, large rivers, and Great Lakes access encouraged an agricultural landscape and large cities that attracted large-scale immigration by European Catholics and Jews along with significant numbers of Middle Eastern Muslims. Today, its intricate regional mosaic of religious and ethnic communities so closely approximates national averages that it has been called “America’s common denominator.”6 Protestants and Catholics dominate the Midwestern public square, but the diversity of this regional space prevents any group from controlling public policy. Solidly pluralistic, this heartland region is America’s religious as well as geographic center of gravity.

A third region occupies California, Nevada, and Hawaii, all on or near the Pacific Ocean. Here, distance from the east and European influences, settlement by highly mobile easterners, proximity to Hispanic America and Asia, the conquest of Mexican and native territories and peoples, and Pacific ports of entry have fostered loosened religious commitments; institutional weakness; eclectic, innovative, and often individualized approaches to spirituality; pronounced cross-cultural borrowing; unusually large numbers of Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Hispanic Catholics, and Hispanic and Asian Protestants; relatively weak mainline Protestant groups; the absence of Christian or “Judeo-Christian” dominance; and extreme diversity. California became particularly diverse: in 2000, over one quarter of its population was foreign born, and immigrants were arriving from 85 percent of the world’s countries. Depression-era and more recent sunbelt migrations from other sections of the country have given conservative and enthusiastic brands of Protestantism a solid presence in the region, especially in Southern California, though these have sometimes dropped denominational labels or incorporated yoga and other Asian-derived elements to appeal to a culture of “seekers.” This regional space has become a complex and dynamic hub of global religious and cultural encounters and transformations.

In the states along the Rocky Mountains, vast, dramatic landscapes, a sparse population, and widely separated urban centers spawned a fourth region characterized by a “libertarian” pluralism in which spiritual communities staked out their own turf. The result is a regional space dotted by separate religious enclaves united by veneration of their shared landscape but otherwise disparate in values. This region includes three distinct subregions: Catholic-dominated New Mexico and Arizona, Mormon-dominated Utah and Idaho, and heavily indigenous Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. In Arizona and New Mexico in the 1930s, westward-moving southern evangelical Protestants seeking economic opportunity joined the large Hispanic Catholic and indigenous populations already there, expanding the Bible Belt toward southern California and prompting in New Mexico persistent Protestant-Catholic tension and a legal battle over Catholic control of the public schools. During and after the 1970s, increased Latino immigration made New Mexico a more uniformly Catholic space while sunbelt migrations made Arizona’s religious space more like California’s.

The Mormon subregion developed in the 19th century when a minority religious group driven westward by intense persecution sought and then capitalized on geographic isolation and insulation in the Great Basin. They staked out a vast space and tightly controlled it through a strong church-state relationship—indeed, virtually theocratic until Utah’s 1896 bid for statehood. Other religious groups, arriving later and in smaller numbers, proved unable to make strong spatial claims of their own. Still overwhelmingly Mormon, this regional space remains the least diverse and most nearly theocratic in the nation. Despite attempts at ecumenical outreach, the Mormon Church continues to use its strength and resources to preserve what Mormons regard as their homeland and its sacred geography, leaving other groups feeling relatively powerless.

Native American strongholds, concentrated in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana but stretching beyond their borders, are small and widely separated religious and cultural enclaves. This spatial arrangement is the combined result of the reservation system of the late 19th century, which organized Native Americans of the region into what were effectively ghettoes, and a revitalization of Native American spiritual life since the 1960s. Each reservation has become a unique religious space with its own geography, sacred natural sites, native practices, and cultural forms. Several cities built by whites also evolved into enclaves: the powerful landscape of Boulder, Colorado, for instance, has become a mecca shared by Buddhists, Muslims, and a range of New Age and alternative spiritualities, while Colorado Springs developed in the opposite direction and is now headquarters to several evangelical advocacy groups. But the region’s pluralism is most apparent in its surge of “active” pluralist contests over space, most of which concern control of places claimed as sacred by Indians but owned by either the federal government or extractive businesses. Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower, northern Arizona’s Big Mountain, and South Dakota’s Black Hills, for example, have been the focus of repeated claims and counterclaims, both between different Indian groups and between Indians and non-Indians.

In the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, and projecting into northern California and the Sierra Nevada mountains), still another distinct kind of pluralism has developed from geographic conditions like those of the Mountain West—a vast, awe-inspiring, and thinly populated landscape—combined with a particularly abundant biodiversity. Its high proportion of religiously “unaffiliated” people has earned this space the nickname “the none zone” and left religious institutions there, as in the Pacific and Mountain regions, relatively weak in public influence.7 The resulting pluralist dynamic is distinguished by a high degree of interfaith collaboration born of practical necessity—an “interfaith religious establishment” consisting of mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Reform and Conservative Jews.8 This establishment espoused social justice causes during the 1960s and has more recently supported an emerging regional civil religion of spiritual environmentalism. In this it cooperates with the region’s many unaffiliated, many of them moved by alternative New Age, Native American, survivalist, or secularist spiritualities. Meanwhile, an evangelical “counterculture” of rural residents, whose livelihood is tied to the mining and logging industries, oppose spiritual environmentalism in the name of what they consider traditional Christian values. The region’s characteristic spatial contests have been over the definition and use of the natural landscape—including disputes over the recently established Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the possibility of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the impact of logging on spotted owl habitats, and the fate of Yosemite’s Hetch-Hetchy valley. This contest over natural space is not the only feature of the region’s pluralist dynamic, but the debate so dominates public life that all religious communities in the region feel compelled to address it.

The states of the South (Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida) house a sixth, equally contentious kind of pluralism. The region’s well developed river system, mild climate, and long-eroded interior mountains encouraged rural and agricultural landscapes and a pattern of sparse settlement which proved congenial to the lay-led religious styles and congregational autonomy of the Baptist, Methodist, and, later, various Pentecostal denominations. Its heavily biracial population, the result of slavery, has shared an affinity for Protestant Christianity but in many cases been driven by racial tensions to develop racially distinct practices as well as separate congregations and denominations. Because its relative lack of large urban areas and industries made most of it uncongenial to the immigration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Southerners came to define their region in opposition to the more modernist and urban North, and the pluralism of the South remained more narrowly Protestant and sharply biracial far into the 20th century. An overwhelmingly evangelical space, its pluralist dynamic remains powerfully defined by a cultural alliance of Baptists and Pentecostals that has drawn even many nonevangelical denominations into its value system, and by a decidedly antimodernist division of American society into people of faith, who see themselves as defenders of “traditional” religious values, and people deemed sympathetic to secularism. Such perceived threats have put the evangelicals spatially on the defensive despite their regional dominance.

Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Louisiana—collectively called by historians the “Old Southwest”—comprise a seventh religious region. Originally a frontier region settled by westward-moving Southerners, it shares the strongly evangelical culture of the southern states farther east but also includes a significantly larger proportion of Holiness and Pentecostal adherents and is characterized by a more pronounced culture of confrontation and readiness to lower church-state walls. The Southeast and Old Southwest differ, too, in their patterns of diversity. In the Southeast, African American Protestant denominations figure more prominently, a legacy of the plantation landscape, and peninsular Florida, Virginia’s DC suburbs, and other urbanized areas stand out as islands of diversity, the result of migration from other regions and recent immigration of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Latinos. The Old Southwest, more impacted by historic as well as recent immigration, has significant ethnically and spatially defined populations of Latino Catholics in south Texas, Latino and Vietnamese Catholics in northwest Arkansas, Cajun Catholics in Louisiana, and German and Irish Catholics in Missouri, all of whom have felt increasing pressure to embrace the values of the regionally dominant evangelicals.

Finally, the regional geography of the New England states—Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine—has fostered an eighth style of pluralism. Originally colonized and dominated by English Protestants, its abundant water power and urbanized seaports fostered an urban-industrial landscape, particularly in its southern half, which during the 19th century attracted large numbers of immigrants, especially Irish and Italian Catholics. Tension between them and the dominant native-born Protestants generated parallel religious worlds as Catholics lived in separate residential enclaves and built their own churches, schools, hospitals, and social service agencies. After World War II, Protestants and Catholics, having achieved a balance of power, shared the regional space less tensely, removing religion from public life to maintain civic stability. Together, the two groups decisively influence the region’s pluralist dynamic: Catholics dominate numerically, comprising over half of New England’s religious adherents, while mainline Protestants, ecumenically organized since the 19th century in response to Catholic growth and their churches still prominently located at town centers, remain the key participants in local affairs despite falling numbers in recent decades. Jews and African American Protestants figure prominently in the region’s more densely populated and urbanized southern portion, where they have since 1965 been joined by increasingly visible populations of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Sikhs. Conservative evangelicalism has recently made inroads among the whites of New England’s rural north, appealed to southern New England’s small but expanding population of urban and suburban Caribbean, Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern immigrants, and made common cause with Catholics on moral issues.

Pluralist encounters at the local and national levels are decisively shaped by this array of regionally defined pluralisms.

Pluralist Encounters in Local Spaces

Zooming in on specific localities, where interreligious encounters are most immediate, offers specific and detailed examples of how pluralist spatial dynamics look in the nation’s different regional spaces. At the local level, what is at stake in the pluralist dynamic is felt most directly and territorial possessiveness is most intense. The “active” pluralism of recent decades has made local encounters particularly pointed. Because claiming space typically requires access to property, the dynamics of local pluralism have been perhaps most evident in zoning boards, town and city councils, and sometimes the courts.

American cities exhibit an especially intense religious pluralism, in part because a large population in a limited geographic area makes spatial claims highly competitive and potentially conflictual, and in part due to the frequency of encounter between different religious, ethnic, and racial groups. As Robert Wuthnow has recently pointed out, people’s theological commitments may be challenged by living in close proximity to those of different faiths, thus magnifying the significance they attach to their religious allegiances.9 Still further intensifying the dynamics of urban pluralism is the high proportion of migrants and immigrants, whose circumstances prompt reterritorialization—the need to create orienting worlds—in a new environment. This crucible-like effect heightens the imperatives of active pluralism and the urgency of spatial claims. One frequent result of urban religious encounters is the formation of compact, homogeneous ethnoreligious enclaves—for example, Miami’s “Little Havana” or New York’s “Little Odessa.” A few examples of the urban pluralist dynamic at work illustrate the broader regional contexts in which urban encounters occur, the defining features of pluralism in the city, and both the possibilities and limits of interreligious interchange.

One prominent instance from the mid-Atlantic region involves the section of New York City that came in the early to mid-20th century to be known as “Italian Harlem”—a volatile space occupied by dozens of ethnoreligious groups but given a particular stamp by Italian Catholics through their annual midsummer festa of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. During the 1940s and 1950s they found themselves on the territorial defensive as they confronted growing numbers of Puerto Ricans who, they feared, were using Santería rituals of to steal power from the Madonna and the neighborhood from them. As they annually paraded an image of the Madonna through the streets to define their space and maintain borders they thought besieged, the Puerto Ricans, whom they excluded from the parades, came to hate the festa and ignored the Madonna’s passing. But by the 1980s, neighborhood Italians, their grasp on the territory decisively broken, felt able to welcome to both the parade and the church itself Haitian Catholic immigrants and their Vodou idioms.10

In Tenafly, New Jersey, meanwhile, Orthodox Jews faced resistance in 1999 when they sought to construct an eruv—to enclose a public space in wire strung on utility poles so as to allow them to carry personal items between their homes and synagogues on the sabbath. Such spatial appropriation had occurred before in the region without incident, but in this case the Orthodox attempt sparked acrimonious public discussion in the borough council and produced an alliance of non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews fearful that the eruv would prompt a broader Orthodox claim to Tenafly. A frustrated Tenafly Eruv Association grew more aggressive, appealing over the borough to the county, which granted permission for the eruv. The incensed borough council responded by voting to dismantle the resulting eruv, and the case landed in court. Successive federal rulings concluded that the county had unlawfully allocated public space to religious uses and then that the borough council had acted with discriminatory intent. The Supreme Court’s 2003 denial of the borough’s request to hear the case secured the Orthodox a space that they had to stake out and defend through active pluralism and contentious, ultimately court-mediated, negotiation.11 The mid-Atlantic emphasis on negotiating boundaries and the intensification of that process in specifically urban environments were painfully evident in both Harlem and Tenafly.

In Salt Lake City, hub of the Mormon subregion of the Rocky Mountain region, a different urban pluralist dynamic has generated a different sort of geopluralist conflict. Here, minority groups struggle vigorously for public visibility against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which virtually monopolizes the urban space. Their concern is less to draw protective boundaries around themselves as to pursue space aggressively. Religious minorities took the offensive in 1998, prompted by the Mormon Church’s attempt to purchase Main Street Plaza—the segment of Salt Lake City’s Main Street between church headquarters and Temple Square—and to ban non-Mormon proselytizing there. An easement still owned by the city within this zone, they said, constituted a public forum where their free speech rights–their attempts to assert their presence—were guaranteed. Seeking to proclaim the heterogeneity of the city which Mormons claim as a symbolic capital, Salt Lake City’s First Unitarian Church, Utahans for Fairness, and other groups won a 2002 federal court ruling. But subsequent anti-Mormon activity there led the mayor to allow Church regulation of the space, and in 2003 the city transferred the easement to the LDS Church. The Unitarians, joined by the Utah Gospel Mission and the environmentalist Shundahai Network—founded by a Shoshone spiritual leader—sued again, but in 2006 dropped the lawsuit and reinforced Mormon dominance to avoid possible defeat and ongoing ill will. LDS regional hegemony secure, Salt Lake City officials subsequently moved to acknowledge religious minorities on the public landscape in This Is The Place Heritage Park, a space originally devoted to honoring the area’s Mormon past but updated in 2011 to include monuments recognizing nine Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant groups in Utah.

Tension is not, of course, the only manifestation of the urban spatial squeeze. In southern New England’s small, often crowded cities, where Jews are well established, mainline Protestant denominations are in decline, and new immigrant groups seek a toehold, spatial scarcity sometimes drives diverse groups together. In New London, Connecticut, the full development of areas zoned to permit religious activity has left religious groups jostling for space and produced a complex pluralist dynamic. Congregation Beth El, for instance, allows a recently established Islamic center to share its space as a gesture of friendship, while financial necessity drove the United Methodist Church there to rent space to two new groups, the Protestant Haitian Family Church of God and the Hispanic Mission of Iglesia Bautista. Those two groups, meanwhile, approach the situation with different attitudes: the former has little interaction with the Methodists and seeks to maximize its autonomy by using the basement and its separate entrance, while the pastor of the latter enjoys the resulting feeling of “unity in diversity.” These two buildings, located amid a dense urban geography, proclaim both the limits and possibilities of American religious pluralism.12

If cities are arenas of pluralism amplified, suburbs constitute America’s “interfaith frontier.”13 Consisting largely of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews when they began dotting the landscape after World War II, they are now becoming multiethnic and multireligious neighborhoods as post-1965 immigrant groups migrate outward from their cities of initial residence or, in the case of highly skilled wealthy and middle-class groups, settle in them upon arrival. These incoming ethnoreligious populations often settle into concentrated “ethnoburbs”—ethnically distinct neighborhoods with ethnic institutions catering to group needs. Their frequent concern to maintain cultural distinctiveness, their attempts to express ethnic identity by creating ethnic landmarks and signs on the landscape, and their willingness to join forces when they sense a threat to their rights belie the classic socio-spatial notion that suburbs uniformly foster integration and assimilation.

Edison, New Jersey, offers a revealing mid-Atlantic example. Some eleven thousand South Asians arrived between 1990 and 2000, tripling that group’s population in a town whose established populations of Irish, Italian, and Hungarian Catholics enjoyed a time-honored position in the region’s pluralist dynamic. Friction developed as the Indians established what native residents dubbed a “Little Calcutta” in nearby Iselin. South Asian businesses were vandalized, and in the early 1990s the town council passed ordinances intended to curb the late-night celebrating associated with the annual Hindu festival of Navratri. The local Indo-American Cultural Society fought back in court on First Amendment grounds and, in 1996 and 1997 rulings, had the ordinances overturned, thus cementing their spatial presence. Mission Viejo, California, meanwhile, exemplifies the dynamics of the less tense and more religiously multiform Pacific region. Here, growing diversity prompted the addition of an Islamic display to the city’s annual Jewish and Christian holiday displays at the town gateway in 2000. At first, this development sparked a flurry of spatial claims by local Baha’i, atheists, and other groups, leaving the city council stymied in its attempts at mediation and unable to reach an equitable resolution. But in 2001, a week after the baffled council banned the displays, it found and enacted the space-sharing compromise it sought in a city park site that could accommodate ten to fifteen groups.

American Religious Pluralism and the National Space

Americans engage in pluralistic encounters not only in particular regional and local spaces, but also in a national space and on a national landscape that they consider spiritually charged. Geographer Wilbur Zelinsky explains that, while America’s religious-patriotic landscape is centered in the ritual core of Washington, DC, American nationalism, particularly as it moved toward celebrating increasingly statist or centralist symbols of national identity and power, has become rooted across the country in a patriotic network of local sacred places.14 However national in their significance, these local places remain fully immersed in their particular regional spaces and are therefore subject to the regional and local cross-currents of the American pluralist dynamic. Indeed, different sorts of conflicts over the meaning of the national space are especially likely to erupt or to assume particular intensity in certain regions.

Particularly since the Hart-Cellar Act, many of these pluralist exchanges pivot on the question of whether the national space is better defined as specifically Christian (or “Judeo-Christian”) or more spiritually multiform. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most highly visible spatial contests of this sort have occurred in the regions of the nation’s southeastern quadrant, where levels of diversity tend to be lower and Protestant evangelicalism constitutes the strongest force in the pluralist dynamic. The most dramatic instance began in 2001, when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore installed an imposing monument of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building in an effort to declare it a “Judeo-Christian” space. Over the decade that followed, similar controversies erupted in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Moore’s actions suggest that his concerns were national with strong regional resonance; expelled from office in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove the monument, he sent it on a national tour that included Mount Rushmore and ended at the U.S. Capitol.

The Mountain states have spawned tension-filled contests over whether American Indian spirituality or Euro-American culture has stronger claim to the national space that both occupy. The most pointed such contest in recent decades involves Mount Rushmore, technically located in the Midwest region as defined above but clearly participant in the pluralism of the Mountain states and, indeed, located only about a dozen miles from South Dakota’s border with Wyoming. Located at the geographic heart of the North American continent, the site stakes the Euro-American claim to North America, which has literally been carved into the Black Hills. But since the 1970s, members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) have sought, in active pluralist fashion, to challenge the Euro-American claim, which they consider a defilement, and ritually restore the area’s original sacred character. AIM activists occupied the memorial for several months in 1970 and on several other occasions during the 1970s. Supporters of Mount Rushmore interpreted AIM’s actions as an invasion of public space, while AIM protesters claimed ownership and renamed the mountain Mount Crazy Horse. Many local Lakota today continue to refer to the desecration of the Sacred Paha Supa (Black Hills) of the Lakota Nation. It is in this context that Roy Moore pointedly included Mount Rushmore among the stops on his national Ten Commandments tour. The only clear result of this exchange is that pluralist spatial dynamics trumped the idea of a national symbolic geographic center.15

A third type of contest over the national space involves the meaning of the land itself, pitting those who consider it inherently sacred—including “spiritual” environmentalists and Indian groups—against advocates of “dominion theology,” usually conservative Christians, who believe that it was created for human use and, more specifically, should serve the nation’s economic purposes. This aspect of American religious pluralism, while nationwide in reach, has been particularly visible in the Pacific Northwest because of the salience of spiritual environmentalism there and because its high concentration of wilderness areas has generated a disproportionate number of public spatial contests. These first emerged into national prominence in the 1980s when the environmental group Earth First! became increasingly active in the region. It perceived a national threat to the landscape when conservative Interior Secretary James Watt, founding president of the Wise Use-oriented Mountain States Legal Defense Fund, suggested that an imminent return of Christ rendered long-term environmental protection unnecessary. At the regional level, they launched a campaign in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest in 1985 to oppose logging in old-growth forests and protect the habitat of the endangered spotted owl; joined members of the American Native People Organization and the Sacred Earth Coalition in 1989 to protest the expansion of a ski resort on Oregon’s Mount Hood; and, in 1992, joined by several Indian protesters in a prayer circle, blocked a logging company’s access to a tract near Rhododendron, Oregon. As spiritual environmentalists staked their spatial claims through symbolic tree sittings and roadblocks, caravans of logging trucks staked theirs by circling government buildings in Portland, Eugene, and Salem, Oregon.

These examples suggest that the religious meaning of the national space, and the public pluralistic wrangling over this issue, are as varied as the regional and local religious cultures within it.

New Spatial Directions in American Religious Pluralism

Spatial perspectives on American religious pluralism are not confined to the local, regional, and national levels. Several emerging approaches and developments are pushing our thinking in new directions.

One important recent development, increasingly evident in the first two decades of the 21st century and beginning to attract scholarly attention, is the growing prominence of individual states as key spatial loci for the operation of pluralist dynamics. This development was driven largely by conservative Christian groups—particularly Catholics and evangelical Protestants—seeking to use state authority to protect religious commitments they consider under siege amid the growth of the nation’s non-Christian population and, perhaps more especially, new and often secular social norms imposed by public opinion and federal authority. It has been most visible in states and regions where those groups have significant demographic weight and cultural power. Using tactics characteristic of “active” pluralism and capitalizing on the jurisdictional space of the state, they have turned to state-level legislatures and courts as a counterweight to broader national trends and federal authority. Judge Roy Moore’s effort to install a Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama State House, discussed above, can be read as one example of this emergent aspect of American religious pluralism, but during the first two decades of the 21st century most state-level pluralist controversies have been generated by evangelical and Catholic objections to abortion, same-sex marriage—effectively legalized nationwide by the Supreme Court in June 2015—and the provision of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) that requires employers to include coverage of female contraceptives in their health insurance provisions. Religious conservatives have urged and invoked state-level versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), a federal statute preventing undue burden on religious practice that the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 did not apply to the states. Between 1993 and 2015, twenty-one states, including twelve in the nation’s southeastern quadrant, passed such state-level RFRAs, which have become the chief legal defense for religious conservatives resisting majority public opinion and federal mandates. Similarly, Judge Roy Moore, restored to his position nine years after his 2003 ouster, again made national headlines in 2016, and was again suspended from the bench, for ordering Alabama probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a federal district court order striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

At the same time, scholars are embracing new approaches to pluralism that emphasize the nation’s place in wider transnational and global communities and networks. American religious pluralism has always pointed beyond the nation, for its sources have been from the outset as much international as domestic, but recent developments have amplified the interconnections between American religious space and wider global spaces. Transnationalism, increasingly convenient global travel, an emergent global media, and new telecommunications technologies have made possible to an unprecedented extent immigrants’ continuing attachment to sacred places and religious communities outside the country; their ongoing interaction with fellow emigrants who settle in other parts of the United States; their maintenance of distinctive beliefs, practices, and values; and the solidification of global religious communities—Muslim, Hindu, Pentecostal and evangelical Christian, and others—in which they and other Americans can and do take part. Encounters among religious groups in the United States will necessarily incorporate these wider arenas.

The advent of virtual space likewise complicates spatial considerations of American religious pluralism. We have barely begun to examine the implications of cyberspace and the Internet for the formation and encounter of religious cultures, though it is already clear that those implications are profound. In religion as in other areas of human endeavor, interpersonal interactions become disembodied as they become electronic, raising the question of what electronic technology means for current notions of and actions and interactions in space. Events in Winter, Wisconsin, where the school board in 1998 blocked access to electronic information about Buddhism and Wicca, suggest that American religious pluralism in all its complexity has entered cyberspace.

Globalization, international travel, and electronic communications have all blurred notions of determinate, particular space and contributed to a new pattern of community formation that geographers call heterolocalism. The term refers to the possibility that ethnic or religious communities can maintain close ties without spatial propinquity, scattered instead over large urban, national, or international domains.16 Surely this emerging sociospatial phenomenon, by changing the way that people locate themselves in and relate themselves to space, will affect the spatial dynamics of religious pluralism. Barbara Metcalf has proposed the term “postmodern pluralism” to describe these developing heterolocal realities.17 Rethinking American religious pluralism in light of emerging postmodern spatial realities is a key task facing scholars today.

Review of the Literature

The first historian to propose a spatial approach to American religious life was Sidney Mead, whose 1954 essay “The American People: Their Space, Time, and Religion” proposed that space had a considerable, perhaps decisive, “formative significance” in the development of American religious life. Specifically, he argued that geographic space had generated “social” space—a “theoretical average distance between individuals”—the immensity of which allowed the “possibility of escaping the physical proximity of [one’s] fellows.” Mead took a generally sanguine view born of American exceptionalism: the enormity of American space had fostered a unique degree of religious freedom and tolerance. But Mead also acknowledged that space in a competitive religious culture might sometimes be politically contested, and pluralist exchanges not always tolerant. Because religious freedom was “possible only in space so great that each could live … without having to impinge upon the life of others,” he said, Americans “have seldom been notably tolerant when confined in limited space with those they disliked ….” In 1970, as the anti-Vietnam War, civil rights, and identity politics movements prompted U.S. historians to highlight unequal power relations in the nation’s domestic politics and imperial ambitions in its foreign policy, Martin Marty’s Righteous Empire advanced Mead’s incorporation of spatial politics into the history of American Protestantism. Opening with the observation that “Empires occupy space,” he argued that religiously driven spatial claims and appropriations constituted a primary dimension of Euro-American power. Another quarter century would pass before scholars of American religion returned to the trail blazed by Mead and Marty.18

Steeped in consensus scholarship and the frontier thesis of American history, Mead viewed space as a given—an objective, boundless, uniform reality devoid of inherent meaning. But by the 1980s and 1990s, scholars in religion and other fields came to conceptualize space as a subjective experience, a situationally located social and cultural construction. Philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space, originally published in French in 1974 and translated into English in 1991, marked a decisive turning point, arguing that space was “produced” through active efforts at definition, appropriation, and control by human beings laboring to organize societies and cultures. Geographer Edward Soja’s Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (1989) offered a similar perspective. By the end of the 20th century scholars across the social sciences and humanities understood space as a dynamic and protean field of ongoing social and cultural tension through which power relations were expressed. This recognition sparked a “spatial turn” in cultural studies, which in turn prompted scholars of religion to revive and revise Mead’s interest in space. Geographer Roger Stump has applied spatial analysis to religion most broadly in The Geography of Religion: Faith, Place, and Space (2008). In American religious studies more particularly, the anthologies American Sacred Space (1995), edited by David Chidester and Edward Linenthal, and American Sanctuary (2005), edited by Louis Nelson, suggest the prominence and potential range of spatial approaches to American religion.19

Scholarship on American religious pluralism, meanwhile, has been developing over the course of the past century across several disciplines. Coming from sociologists, religion scholars, political scientists, ethnographers, and historians, it has been superabundant, sometimes celebratory and sometimes critical. Approaches have largely focused on ecumenical institutional and organizational initiatives, intellectual constructs and problems, attitudes, theology and the nature of religious belief, legal decisions, and the workings of a religious “marketplace.” The recent blossoming of cultural studies and scholarship on “private” life have produced the idea of pluralism as “a culture”—a style of intergroup exchange characterized by openness and acceptance—and a suggestion that scholars look beyond the public square to interfaith families to find useful strategies for pluralist interaction.20 Its volume has expanded greatly during the closing decades of the 20th century and opening years of the 21st as scholars attempt to make sense of the nation’s expanding religious diversity, intensifying ethnic politics, and decline of assimilationist pressures and models since 1965—what many scholars call “the new pluralism.” Much of the current historiographic discussion begins with William R. Hutchison’s Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal (2003), which attempted to offer an overarching interpretive framework. Focusing on the Protestant establishment and its responses to growing diversity, Hutchison argues that pluralism has been a key principle but an often messy and politically charged practice since the nation’s establishment and has taken different forms over time—first toleration, then inclusion on the basis of Anglo-Protestant assimilationism, and finally a full embrace of difference and the full participation of varying voices in public policy discussions. Chris Beneke proposed a few years later, in Beyond Toleration (2006), that American pluralism originated in the pragmatic toleration policies and practical ecumenism of the colonial period. Other scholarly treatments, such as Kevin Schultz’s Tri-Faith America (2011) and Wendy Wall’s Inventing the “American Way” (2008), have suggested that the nation became fully pluralistic only after World War II, when Will Herberg proposed his Protestant-Catholic-Jew model of the American cultural consensus. Most recently, David Mislin’s Saving Faith: Making Religious Pluralism an American Value at the Dawn of the Secular Age (2015) has argued for the crucial significance of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when growing awareness of religious doubt and the rise of comparative religion generated an embrace of difference. Together, these works have outlined the central historiographic questions: At what point did pluralism become an American value? Why? Through what mechanisms? On whose terms? What different forms has the dynamic taken over time?21

The application of spatial analysis to the study of American pluralism has only recently begun. Mead explained pluralist dynamics in exceptionalist terms that emphasized spatial separation (or the lack of it), but his argument was eclipsed by the spatial turn and has been little engaged in current scholarship. Historians of urban religion, whose subjects are people squeezed in large numbers into contact with others in relatively small geographic territories, were sensitive to spatial considerations early, but except for occasional case studies have not addressed the nature of pluralism directly. Mark Silk uses regional difference as the key analytic for examining religious pluralism in his article “Defining Religious Pluralism in America: A Regional Analysis” (2007), and develops his regional approach to American religion to a much greater extent in Religion by Region, an eight-volume collection he edited with numerous co-editors. Bret Carroll’s “Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective” (2012) considers local and national as well as regional levels of analysis, and Isaac Weiner’s Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space and American Pluralism (2014) proposes that legal controversies over sound in public spaces are particularly useful for examining pluralist dynamics. It remains for future scholars to bring spatial analysis fully to bear on the questions raised above about pluralism’s nature and changing historical dynamics.22

Further Reading

Bellah, Robert N., and Frederick E. Greenspahn, eds. Uncivil Religion: Interreligious Hostility in America. New York: Crossroad, 1987.Find this resource:

Carroll, Bret E. “Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.2 (June 2012): 304–364.Find this resource:

Chidester, David, and Edward T. Linenthal, eds. American Sacred Space. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Eck, Diana. A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001.Find this resource:

Hecht, Richard D. “Active versus Passive Pluralism: A Changing Style of Civil Religion?” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 612 (2007): 133–151.Find this resource:

Hutchison, William R. Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991.Find this resource:

McAlister, Elizabeth. “Globalization and the Religious Production of Space.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44.3 (2005): 249–255.Find this resource:

Silk, Mark. “Defining Religious Pluralism in America: A Regional Analysis.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 612 (2007): 64–81.Find this resource:

Stump, Roger W. The Geography of Religion: Faith, Place, and Space. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008.Find this resource:

Weiner, Isaac. Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space and American Pluralism. New York: New York University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Wentz, Richard E. The Culture of Religious Pluralism. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.Find this resource:

Zelinsky, Wilbur. “An Approach to the Religious Geography of the United States: Patterns of Church Membership in 1952.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 51.2 (1961): 139–193.Find this resource:


(1.) Robert H. Stoddard and Carolyn V. Prorok, “Geography of Religion and Belief Systems,” in Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century, ed. Gary L. Gaile and Cort J. Willmott (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003), 759–760; Roger W. Stump, Boundaries of Faith: Geographical Perspectives on Religious Fundamentalism (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 3, 207; Rowland A. Sherrill, “American Sacred Space and the Contest of History,” in American Sacred Space, ed. David Chidester and Edward T. Linenthal (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995); Barbara Daly Metcalf, ed., Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996).

(2.) This threefold model of how American pluralism has changed over time was proposed by William R. Hutchison, Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003).

(3.) Richard D. Hecht, “Active versus Passive Pluralism: A Changing Style of Civil Religion?,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 612 (2007): 133–151; Myer Siemiatycki, “Contesting Sacred Urban Space: The Case of the Eruv,” Journal of International Migration and Integration 6.2 (2005): 268; Edward W. Soja, Seeking Spatial Justice (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).

(4.) Richard E. Wentz, The Culture of Religious Pluralism (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998), 85; Diana Eck, A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), 326.

(5.) Wilbur Zelinsky, “An Approach to the Religious Geography of the United States: Patterns of Church Membership in 1952,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 51.2 (1961): 139–193. The regional schema used in this essay is based on Mark Silk, “Defining Religious Pluralism in America: A Regional Analysis,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 612 (2007): 64–81; Mark Silk and Andrew Walsh, One Nation, Divisible: How Religious Regional Differences Shape American Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008); and the eight other volumes of Silk’s Religion by Region series.

(6.) Philip Barlow and Mark Silk, eds., Religion and Public Life in the Midwest: America’s Common Denominator? (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004).

(7.) Patricia O’Connell Killen and Mark Silk, eds., Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004).

(8.) Mark Silk and Andrew Walsh, One Nation, Divisible, 137.

(9.) Robert Wuthnow, America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 2–3, 97.

(10.) Robert A. Orsi, “The Religious Boundaries of an In-Between People: Street Feste and the Problem of the Dark-Skinned Other in Italian Harlem, 1920–1990,” in Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape, ed. Robert A. Orsi (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 257–288; Joseph Sciorra, “‘We Go Where the Italians Live’: Religious Processions as Ethnic and Territorial Markers in a Multi-Ethnic Brooklyn Neighborhood,” in Orsi, ed., Gods of the City, 310–340.

(11.) Siemiatycki, “Contesting Sacred Urban Space.”

(13.) Eck, A New Religious America, 374.

(14.) Wilbur Zelinsky, Nation into State: The Shifting Symbolic Foundations of American Nationalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).

(15.) Matthew Glass, “‘Alexanders All’: Symbols of Conquest and Resistance at Mount Rushmore,” in American Sacred Space, ed. Chidester and Linenthal, 152–186.

(16.) Wilbur Zelinsky and Barrett A. Lee, “Heterolocalism: An Alternative Model of the Sociospatial Behaviour of Immigrant Ethnic Communities,” International Journal of Population Geography 4.4 (1998): 281–298.

(17.) Barbara Daly Metcalf, ed., Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996), 22.

(18.) Sidney E. Mead, “The American People: Their Space, Time, and Religion,” Journal of Religion 34.4 (October 1954): 244, 248, 251, 253; Martin E. Marty, Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America (New York: Dial, 1970), 5.

(19.) Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991); Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (New York: Verso, 1989); Roger W. Stump, The Geography of Religion: Faith, Place, and Space (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008); David Chidester and Edward T. Linenthal, eds., American Sacred Space (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995); Louis P. Nelson, ed., American Sanctuary: Understanding Sacred Spaces (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

(20.) Wade Clark Roof, “Pluralism as a Culture: Religion and Civility in Southern California,” Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science 612 (July 2007): 82–99; Kate McCarthy, “Pluralist Family Values: Domestic Strategies for Living with Religious Difference,” Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science 612 (July 2007): 188–208.

(21.) William R. Hutchison, Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003); Chris Beneke, Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Kevin Schultz, Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Wendy Wall, Inventing the “American Way”: The Politics of Consensus from the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

(22.) Mark Silk, “Defining Religious Pluralism in America: A Regional Analysis,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 612 (2007): 64–81; Bret Carroll, “Worlds in Space: American Religious Pluralism in Geographic Perspective,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.2 (June 2012): 304–364; Isaac Weiner, Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space and American Pluralism (New York: New York University Press, 2014).