Religion and American Cultures

Tradition, Diversity, and Popular Expression, 2nd Edition

by Gary Laderman and Luis León, Editors


Religion—and the desire for religious freedom—is a recurring theme in America.

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December 2014


Pages 1766
Volumes 4
Size 7x10
Topics Religion/Theology

This four-volume work provides a detailed, multicultural survey of established as well as "new" American religions and investigates the fascinating interactions between religion and ethnicity, gender, politics, regionalism, ethics, and popular culture.

This revised and expanded edition of Religion and American Cultures: Tradition, Diversity, and Popular Expression presents more than 140 essays that address contemporary spiritual practice and culture with a historical perspective. The entries cover virtually every religion in modern-day America as well as the role of religion in various aspects of U.S. culture. Readers will discover that Americans aren't largely Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish anymore, and that the number of popular religious identities is far greater than many would imagine. And although most Americans believe in a higher power, the fastest growing identity in the United States is the "nones"—those Americans who elect "none" when asked about their religious identity—thereby demonstrating how many individuals see their spirituality as something not easily defined or categorized.

The first volume explores America's multicultural communities and their religious practices, covering the range of different religions among Anglo-Americans and Euro-Americans as well as spirituality among Latino, African American, Native American, and Asian American communities. The second volume focuses on cultural aspects of religions, addressing topics such as film, Generation X, public sacred spaces, sexuality, and new religious expressions. The new third volume expands the range of topics covered with in-depth essays on additional topics such as interfaith families, religion in prisons, belief in the paranormal, and religion after September 11, 2001. The fourth volume is devoted to complementary primary source documents.


  • Comprises contributions from more than 100 top scholars covering a breadth of topics such as Día de los Muertos, Heathenry, Islam, Pentecostalism, roadside shrines, Sufism, Wicca, and Zen from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives
  • Provides thought-provoking insights into religion's interactions with cultural backdrops throughout America, including in education, entertainment, the Internet, the environment, politics, and at home
  • Contains photographs and illustrations depicting a wide range of religious figures and activities as well as significant religious sites in the United States
  • Supplies an entire volume of primary source documents illustrating the religious diversity in American culture, including Cecil B. DeMille's essay "The Screen as Religious Teacher" as well as more conventional materials on Christian Science, the New Age, and Buddhism
Author Info

Gary Laderman, PhD, is professor of American religious history and cultures at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. His published works include Sacred Matters: Celebrity Worship, Sexual Ecstasies, the Living Dead, and Other Signs of Religious Life in the United States and Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America.

Luis León, PhD, is associate professor in the department of religious studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of La Llorona's Children: Religion, Life, and Death in the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands.



"The list of references and further reading at the end of each essay is extremely valuable. Given the lack of materials that explore the interaction of American cultural expression as a religious manifestation, this is a welcomed reference in the field, and is best suited for undergraduate students."Booklist

"There is enough new content in this encyclopedia to justify its purchase, and it should be especially appealing to libraries that did not buy the first edition. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic audiences; general readers."Choice

"Go to the library and browse in this set, which is itself a mini-library. . . . If your library does not have it, suggest that it be purchased. Clergy in particular would do well to sample it."Sewanee Theological Review

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Voices of Unbelief cover imageEncyclopedia of Sacred Places, 2nd Edition cover imageEncyclopedia of Religious Revivals in America cover image

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