A provocative, well-documented study of the changes in America's most important religious denominations since the 1950's....

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AMERICAN MAINLINE RELIGION: Its Changing Shape and Future

A provocative, well-documented study of the changes in America's most important religious denominations since the 1950's. The authors use extensive statistical information to show that the moderate mainline churches once so dominant in American culture are losing members to growing numbers of non-affiliates and fundamentalists. Roof and McKinney argue that there has been a major breakdown among the liberal Protestant religions that, since the 1920's, have been the mainstay of American religious pluralism. The mainstream now embraces a much wider range, which the authors classify as: Liberal Protestants (the old WASP establishment, moderate Protestants); Middle American Methodists and Lutherans; Conservative Protestants (such as Jerry Falwell); Black Protestants; Catholics, Jews and non-affiliates. The book is packed with demographic facts and charts about each religion and who is joining or leaving it, and about attitudes towards racism, morality, civil liberties. Americans share fewer moral assumptions than they once did. Definitions of a good Christian range from someone who obeys God and country and supports supply-side economics and monogamy, to someone who fights for world peace and equality and tolerance for all. Roof and McKinney see the fundamentalists, who were once marginal, moving more and more into the center, and the liberal Protestants who dominated American culture for 200 years becoming more marginal. The future will show whether conservative Protestants will moderate their views as they move up socially--the common pattern--or whether the secular segment will return to religion. For now, the polarization will continue. A level-headed treatment of a subject very much on the minds of Americans today.

Pub Date: July 28, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1987