Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans

Moore, R. Laurence
Date published: 
March 1988

Throughout history, the reality of America's diverse religious life has continually been subordinated to the themes of Protestant unity and dominance. At the centre of this study are seven religious groups that are usually accorded a secondary influence on American culture: the Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Christian Scientists, Millennialists, 20th-century Protestant Fundamentalists, and the black churches. Through these groups Moore boldly shows that the conventional distinctions between what is "mainstream" and what is "marginal" in American culture are large ly strategical fictions created by historians and historical actors, and that many of these "outside" groups in fact embody values that are quintessentially American. The book also examines the part that religious persecution has played in American history, and the ways in which religious groups have often turned persecution to their own advantage. The author's analysis of pluralism provides a solid and important new context for viewing America's religious past and also builds a solid historical perspective for understanding the religious cults and sects that are receiving so much attention in American life today. This is a paperback reissue of the hardback first published in 1986.