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American ReligionContemporary Trends$
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Mark Chaves

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691146850

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691146850.001.0001

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Liberal Protestant Decline

Liberal Protestant Decline

(p.81) 7 Liberal Protestant Decline
American Religion

Mark Chaves

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the decline in Liberal Protestant denominations in recent decades. This is one of the best known religious trends of the last several decades, but it often is misunderstood. Contrary to what many believe, this decline has not occurred because droves of people have been leaving more liberal denominations to join more conservative religious groups. Nor does the decline of liberal denominations mean that liberal religious ideas are waning. Indeed, as a set of ideas, religious liberalism steadily has gained ground in the United States, whatever the fate of the denominations most closely associated with it. Indeed, Americans' increasing endorsement of theological liberalism's core tenets—appreciating other religions, adjusting traditional belief and practice to modern circumstances, rejecting biblical literalism—shows that religious liberalism is a more potent cultural presence than many realize.

Keywords:   Liberal Protestant denominations, liberal denominations, conservative religious groups, liberal religious ideas, religious liberalism, theological liberalism, biblical literalism

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