American Religions

An Illustrated History

by J. Gordon Melton


How can one make sense of the maze of religious groups, movements, practices, rites, conflicts, and pioneers that have arisen from this most tolerant of religious settings? American Religions traces the evolution, key developments, and seminal figures that have made the United States the most religiously diverse nation in history.

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December 2000


Pages 316
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Religion/History
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    Hardcover: £67.00/73,00€/A$112.00

The evolution of religious diversity and complexity in the United States is explained clearly in this richly illustrated historical work.

This volume provides an overview of the more than 400 native tribal religions at the time of Columbus, examines the major survivors, and discusses contemporary efforts to breathe new life into old faiths. The book charts the initial colonization and the arrival of religious pioneers and tells how religious groups in the post Revolutionary era struggled with their new dependence on voluntary member support. This easy to read, easy to understand reference work outlines the evolution, key developments, and seminal figures in this most tolerant of religious settings.

American Religions: An Illustrated History is generously enhanced with more than 200 illustrations—many of them rare—and written in accessible language without scholarly jargon.


  • Divided into eight concise chronological and thematic chapters
  • Includes a comprehensive introduction and chapter bibliographies


  • Written in accessible language without scholarly jargon, the book traces developments from native religions to colonization, the Revolutionary era, immigration, and the Civil War
  • Traces the emergence of the fundamentalism versus modernism controversy and its presence in all American religious faiths
  • Explores the explosion of religious pluralism at the end of the millennium, with the growth of new religions and the burgeoning of Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu communities
Author Info

J. Gordon Melton is director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, founded in 1969 in Santa Barbara, CA, and was a research specialist with the Department of Religious Studies of the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is presently Distinguished Professor of American religious history at the Institute for Studies in Religion at Baylor University, Waco, TX. Melton is the author of more than 40 books on American and world religion, including the Encyclopedia of American Religions, Eighth Edition; Nelson's Guide to Denominations; and ABC-CLIO's American Religions: An Illustrated History.



"Recommended for high school level and beyond, and would make a good addition to a public library, community college, or undergraduate college collection."American Reference Books Annual

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