Emotion and Religious Community in America

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Abstract

Emotion is an important component of religion in America. Different kinds of emotion have emerged in a wide variety of American religious settings. Wonder, hope, fear, hatred, love, anger, and other emotions are performed by Americans, individually and collectively, according to scripts provided by religious traditions. Contact with God or the divine typically is conceptualized as a matter of feeling, and for many Americans, ‘knowing’ comes from feeling. Emotion can revitalize social bonds through religious ritual, including civil religion. Americans have willfully screened from memory instances in which religious hatred and anger have clashed with ideals of freedom and equality. Remembering such instances would position the nation better to interpret global religious conflicts.

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