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Saving FaithMaking Religious Pluralism an American Value at the Dawn of the Secular Age$
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David Mislin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453946

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453946.001.0001

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The Gilded Age Crisis of Faith and the Reevaluation of Religious Pluralism

The Gilded Age Crisis of Faith and the Reevaluation of Religious Pluralism

(p.1) Introduction The Gilded Age Crisis of Faith and the Reevaluation of Religious Pluralism
Saving Faith

David Mislin

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter traces the process by which anxieties about declining religious commitments resulted in the affirmation of the diversity of beliefs and practices. The enthusiasm for religious pluralism expressed by the liberal Protestants provided a crucial precedent for the shift in attitudes that occurred at midcentury. Two generations of liberal Protestant leaders (1870s–1930s) made it reputable for American churchgoers to recognize non-Protestant traditions. The rhetoric of “brotherhood,” which emerged as the symbol of efforts to cultivate interfaith sympathy among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, continuously appeared in spoken and written output of liberal Protestants up until the early twentieth century. Several organizations created by the early liberal Protestant leaders—notably the Federal Council of Churches and the“goodwill” groups of the 1920s—were instrumental in the adoption of a liberal perspective on religious diversity.

Keywords:   religious pluralism, liberal Protestants, American churchgoers, non-Protestant traditions, Catholics, Jews, Federal Council of Churches

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