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Inspiration and Innovation: Religion in the American West



Inspiration and Innovation: Religion in the American West

Todd M. Kerstetter

ISBN: 978-1-118-84833-3 January 2015 Wiley-Blackwell 288 Pages


Covering more than 200 years of history from pre-contact to the present, this textbook places religion at the center of the history of the American West, examining the relationship between religion and the region and their influence on one another.

  • A comprehensive examination of the relationship between religion and the American West and their influence on each other over the course of more than 200 years
  • Discusses diverse groups of people, places, and events that played an important historical role, from organized religion and easily recognized denominations to unorganized religion and cults
  • Provides straightforward explanations of key religious and theological terms and concepts
  • Weaves discussion of American Indian religion throughout the text and presents it in dialogue with other groups
  • Enriches our understanding of American history by examining key factors outside of traditional political, economic, social, and cultural domains

List of Illustrations viii

Acknowledgements x

Introduction 1

1 Indigenous Religions in the West 8

Arctic 12

Sub-Arctic 13

Northwest Coast 16

Plains 18

Plateau 20

Great Basin 22

California 23

Southwest 24

Common Themes 27

Conclusion 29

Suggested Reading 30

2 Missions to New Worlds 32

Spain 34

France 50

Russia 60

Conclusion 66

Suggested Reading 67

3 Migrations, Manifest Destiny, and Mormons, 1803-1860 69

Transplanting Religions in the US Imperial Period 71

Protestantism 71

Roman Catholicism 80

Judaism 83

Asian religions 85

Religion and Manifest Destiny 86

Mormons and the Quest for Zion 91

The Mormon Question, 1852–1860 103

Conclusion 107

Suggested Reading 108

4 The West and Religion in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1890 109

Protestantism in the West 112

Catholicism in the West 119

Judaism in the West 124

Asian Religions in the West 127

The Mormon Question and the Mormon Answer, 1862–1890 127

American Indian Religious Experiences 135

Conclusion 150

Suggested Reading 150

5 Religion in the Modern West, 1890-1945 152

Mormonism 155

Catholicism 157

American Indians and Religion 162

Asian Religions and Influence 169

Modernism, Fundamentalism, and the Spirit of the West 172

World War I and Religion in the West 177

The Sunbelt and the Bible Belt 178

World War II and Religion in the West 188

Conclusion 189

Suggested Reading 190

6 Religion in the Cold War West, 1945-1965 192

Religious Innovation 197

Buddhism and the Beats 197

Scientology 198

Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and religion 199

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 201

The Native American Church 206

Hispanics and Religion in the West 207

Evangelicals and the Sunbelt West 210

Conclusion 216

Suggested Reading 216

7 Creativity and Controversy after 1965 218

Immigration Reform and Asian Religions in the West 220

Religion in the Hispanic West 224

New Religious Movements 227

Religion and the Internet in the West 240

The Megachurch Boom 242

Religion in the Native West 251

Paths to the Present in Mormon Wests 254

Conclusion 258

Suggested Reading 258

Conclusion: The Frontier that Wouldn't Close 260

Index 266