Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of other non-Western religions have become a significant presence in the United States in recent years. Yet many Americans continue to regard the United States as a Christian society. How are we adapting to the new diversity? Do we casually announce that we "respect" the faiths of non-Christians without understanding much about those faiths? Are we willing to do the hard work required to achieve genuine religious pluralism?
Award-winning author Robert Wuthnow tackles these and other difficult questions surrounding religious diversity and does so with his characteristic rigor and style. America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity looks not only at how we have adapted to diversity in the past, but at the ways rank-and-file Americans, clergy, and other community leaders are responding today. Drawing from a new national survey and hundreds of in-depth qualitative interviews, this book is the first systematic effort to assess how well the nation is meeting the current challenges of religious and cultural diversity.
The results, Wuthnow argues, are both encouraging and sobering--encouraging because most Americans do recognize the right of diverse groups to worship freely, but sobering because few Americans have bothered to learn much about religions other than their own or to engage in constructive interreligious dialogue. Wuthnow contends that responses to religious diversity are fundamentally deeper than polite discussions about civil liberties and tolerance would suggest. Rather, he writes, religious diversity strikes us at the very core of our personal and national theologies. Only by understanding this important dimension of our culture will we be able to move toward a more reflective approach to religious pluralism.
"As Robert Wuthnow amply documents, the United States is (on the whole) an open and welcoming country, ready to extend the full benefits of citizenship to strangers who could expect second-class status in much of the rest of the world."--Gary Rosen, New York Times Book Review
"With . . . America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity, Wuthnow zeros in on one of the most significant issues facing the country today."--Heather Grennan Gary,Publishers Weekly
"All of Robert Wuthnow's formidable skills as the nation's leading 'public sociologist' are prominently displayed in this disciplined, accessible study."--Mark A. Noll, Christianity Today
"This is a supple, nuanced and thoughtful book, among Wuthnow's best."--John A. Coleman, America
"The great virtue of America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity lies in its careful depiction of the state of American Christianity today. Wuthnow's narrative is endlessly subtle and informative."--Clifford Orwin, The American Interest
"Wuthnow has conducted careful research, including thousands of interviews, to find out how ordinary American Christians deal in their day-to-day lives with this new religious diversity: how they think about non-Christians; what sort of encounters they have with them, from workplace chatter to interfaith services and even intermarriage; and how they and their pastors deal with such theologically troubling issues as whether non-Christians can be saved or whether Christians should make active efforts to convert them."--Charlotte Allen,Washington Post
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Robert Wuthnow: