THE UNIQUENESS OF THE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE

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Abstract

ABSTRACT. The assemblage of objects that constitute the publicly visible religious landscape of the United States—houses of worship and a variety of church-related enterprises—deviates so markedly from its counterparts in other lands that we can regard its uniqueness as a significant argument for American exceptionalism. The diagnostic features in question include the extraordinary number and variety of churches and denominations, their special physical attributes, the near-random microgeography of churches in urban areas, and, most especially, their nomenclature and the widely distributed signage promoting godliness and religiosity. Such landscape phenomena suggest connections with much-deeper issues concerning the origin and evolution of American society and culture.

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