As America has become more pluralistic, Protestantism, with its long roots in American history and culture, has hardly remained static. This finely crafted portrait of a remarkably complex group of Christian denominations describes Protestantism's history, constituent subgroups and their activities, and the way in which its dialectic with American culture has shaped such facets of the wider society as healthcare, welfare, labor relations, gender roles, and political discourse.
Following the general pattern of previous volumes in the "Columbia Contemporary American Religion" series (e.g., Jane I. Smith's Islam in America), this volume provides a brief historical overview, case studies of churches, and essays on significant issues facing Protestant congregations today. Balmer (American religion, Barnard Coll.) and Winner, a doctoral candidate at Columbia, do an admirable job of synthesizing recent scholarship and have created an engaging, if occasionally irreverent, account. While always acknowledging the diversity and complexity of Protestant denominations, this book basically divides Protestants into two camps evangelical and liberal with both camps receiving equally critical evaluations. In exploring the challenges of feminism, homosexuality, and social justice, the authors consider both how the issues have affected the churches and how the churches have affected the broader culture. The work also contains brief profiles of significant individuals, a time line, and a glossary. While the book could have used tighter editing virtually identical sentences explaining various terms appear multiple times the amount of information presented and the quality of the analysis make this a useful work for academic and public libraries. Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.