Beginning with the legacy of Roger Williams, who in 1633 founded the first colony not restricted to people of one faith, The Lively Experiment chronicles how Americans have continually demolished traditional prejudices while at the same time erecting new walls between belief systems. The chapters gathered here reveal how Americans are sensitively attuned to irony and contradiction, to unanticipated eruptions of bigotry and unheralded acts of decency, and to the disruption caused by new movements and the reassurance supplied by old divisions. The authors examine the way ethnicity, race, and imperialism have been woven into the fabric of interreligious relations and highlight how currents of tolerance and intolerance have rippled in multiple directions. Nearly four hundred years after Roger Williams' Rhode Island colony, the "lively experiment" of religious tolerance remains a core tenet of the American way of life. This volume honors this boisterous tradition by offering the first comprehensive account of America’s vibrant and often tumultuous history of interreligious relations.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; March 2015
- ISBN 9781442248731
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: The Lively Experiment
- Author: Chris Beneke (ed.); Christopher S. Grenda (ed.); Jon Butler (other); Teresa Bejan (contrib.); James B. Bennett (contrib.); Jacob Betz (contrib.); Steven Green (contrib.); Evan Haefeli (contrib.); Cristine T. Hutchison-Jones (contrib.); Christopher C. Jones (contrib.); Susanna Linsley (contrib.); Paul E. Matzko (contrib.); David Mislin (contrib.); Andrew R. Murphy (contrib.); Keith Pacholl (contrib.); Nicholas Pellegrino (contrib.); Shawn F. Peters (contrib.); Scott Sowerby (contrib.); Denise A. Spellberg (contrib.); Ronit Stahl (contrib.); Evelyn Sterne (contrib.); Kip A. Wedel (contrib.)
Imprint: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
In The Press
The line from religious intolerance to religious tolerance to pluralism was not straight and uncomplicated. This outstanding anthology, born out of a conference celebrating the 350th anniversary of Rhode Island’s 1663 charter, provides a plethora of case studies from the Colonial era (with especially good analyses of Roger Williams, William Penn, and the Methodist relationship to slavery in the Caribbean) and the 19th century. Contributors also provide contemporary stories of ‘Mormon moments,’ the movement against ‘cults’ in the 1970s, and the liberal effort to push the religious right off the air using the Fairness Doctrine as a weapon. What is clear throughout is how much toleration has been hard for people to tolerate. ‘What people do with their religious liberty can seem downright appalling to others,’ the editors note, and the essays are full of such examples. The Rhode Island context results in multiple discussions of the complexities of Roger Williams, whose emphasis on both liberty and proselytization helps explain the ‘American polity’s unique and somewhat paradoxical combination of religious disestablishment and a religiously charged public sphere.’ Top-notch scholarship on a topic of great contemporary importance. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries.
About The Author
Chris Beneke is associate professor of history at Bentley University.
Christopher S. Grenda is associate professor of history at Bronx Community College of CUNY.