American Muslim associational life from 1950 to the present

Authored by: Kathleen Moore

Routledge Handbook of Islam in the West

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415691321
eBook ISBN: 9781315794273
Adobe ISBN: 9781317744023


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There has been a great deal of scholarship in recent years on the role of religious organizations in American public life (e.g. Layman 2001; Wald et al. 2005; Cleary and Hertzke 2006; Sager 2010). Much of this scholarly interest arises from a concern for the relationship between religion and government. Religion has always played a central role in American public life, yet in recent times this role has demonstrated the potential to expand precipitously as faith-based groups, coalitions, and leaders from a range of perspectives have elicited debate about the proper understanding of religion’s place in contemporary society. A previous consensus around a secularizing, if somewhat Judeo-Christian, view of American public life, in which individuals and society may be cognizant of religion but the polity may not be, has broken down in recent decades to be replaced by a debate about the significance for the relationship between religion and government of the ever-increasing diversification of religious faith in America. New religions are on the rise; older religious movements once reviled, such as Mormonism, have gained legitimacy; and, since the latter half of the twentieth century, through new immigration patterns, a greater variety of faith traditions have arrived on America’s shores. Further, the “nones” – those who identify with no particular religious affiliation – are on the rise, constituting one-fifth of the American public and fully one-third of those under the age of thirty. 1 Can Americans rethink their identity as a nation in a way that reflects this new stage of diversification? Will this change the way Americans think about the balance between “church” and “state”?

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