All of Robert Wuthnow's formidable skills as the nation's leading "public sociologist" are prominently displayed in this disciplined, accessible study.
America and the
There is a careful digestion of survey results, which shows that groups labeled "Spiritual Shoppers," "Christian Inclusivists," and "Christian Exclusivists" offer strikingly different opinions on whether the United States is a "Christian nation" and on how important it is to communicate with members of other religions. Extensive interviews with a substantial number of ordinary Americans allow Wuthnow to show the difficulty of balancing the religious loyalty necessary for strong families and churches with the religious tolerance required for a civil society.
There are also Wuthnow's own calm reflections. In his view, the three groups mentioned above possess offsetting advantages and disadvantages when it comes to preserving both religious integrity and the democratic order. Wuthnow, author of The Restructuring of American Religion, recommends theological reflection on the love of God as a means to maintaining both. Not all readers will agree that Wuthnow has struck the right balance between these compelling religious and civic imperatives. But all should be grateful for the clarity with which he has described a pressing American reality and the care he has taken to listen carefully before speaking his own mind.
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