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The Last PuritansMainline Protestants and the Power of the Past$
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Margaret Bendroth

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469624006

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469624006.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Last Puritans

Margaret Bendroth

University of North Carolina Press

This introductory chapter examines the role of the past in mainline Protestant churches—more specifically the Congregationalists—and how they have coped with modern, twentieth-century American life. The religious history of the modern era was as much about fortress building as it was about ecumenical cooperation: this urbane and presumably secular age saw far more debate about what it meant to be a Baptist or a Presbyterian or a Congregationalist—or, for that matter, a Roman Catholic or a Jew or an evangelical—than any earlier time. Congregationalists are especially apt for this kind of story. To begin with, from the early nineteenth century onward, they have played a major role in shaping American culture, exerting an influence well beyond their relatively modest numbers.

Keywords:   mainline Protestant churches, Congregationalists, religious history, twentieth century, modern American culture

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