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American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  749 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
American Grace is a major achievement, a groundbreaking examination of religion in America.

Unique among nations, America is deeply religious, religiously diverse, and remarkably tolerant. But in recent decades the nation’s religious landscape has been reshaped.

America has experienced three seismic shocks, say Robert Putnam and David Campbell. In the 1960s, religious obse
Kindle Edition, 720 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
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Nick Klagge
Having been a big fan of Putnam's "Bowling Alone", I have to say that I was not that impressed with "American Grace". For one thing, it is incredibly long (550 pages), and its conclusions are mildly interesting at best (to me). BA addressed issues that I hadn't thought about too much, whereas AG addresses things that are all over the media all the time. It's true that the authors turn up some findings that contradict the conventional wisdom, but they don't make for the incredibly forceful type o ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Amazing Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us was written for data geeks like me. It is looong, but keeps the reader turning the page. Amazing Graceis an in-depth analysis of national surveys performed by Robert Putnam and David Campbell, often combined with data from Gallup, Pew, and others, to give us a richer story of how religion in the US has changed across time. These quantitative data are supported by a series of case studies of church congregations of a number of denominations, sizes ...more
Timothy Lugg
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books are a quick read, others are not. This one actually became a chore to finish because it is so long. So why finish? Because the interesting data just kept coming page after page. Putnam and Campbell affirm and deny many common beliefs about religious, church, and political habits in regards Americans. For example, from what one hears in the press he or she could come to the conclusion that right-wing politics are actively promoted in evangelical churches in order to educate parishioner ...more
This book really appeals to me. It is loaded with graphs of statistical data from a 2006 phone survey of over 3000 participants.

It is like finding a particularly striking fossil on the shelf of a souvenir shop. It is probably just another fossil (just another book about religion), more or less, the same as all of the rest on the shelf that are for sell. But this one appeals to you (in this case me).

This book should appeal to people interested in looking at and evaluating the statistical data. T
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Grace is a sociological examination of religion in America. It runs a little long (550 pages of text), but it greatly appealed to the part of me that majored in Sociology at university. Putnam and Campbell had large themes, but the details were what really fascinated me. Here's a small sampling of what I flagged:

-the greatest predictor of whether a Christian will align with an evangelical church is their view of sexual ethics.
- deeply religious Americans are less traditionalist in thei
Jason Cecil
I had hoped this book would be a more mainstream narrative with facts rolled in. Instead, I found the book to be an extended dissertation that dissects a nationwide survey for Faith Matters from 2006 in mind-numbing statistical detail. There are some nuggets in here, like the nature of American religion (it's a marketplace), and how it relates to partisanship, and how we are in the middle of a second backlash against the first backlash that was against the 60s. Much more of a statistical academi ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘America manages to be both religiously diverse and religiously devout because it’s difficult to damn those you know and love.’

This book, by Professors Robert D Putnam and David E Campbell, presents a comprehensive study of religious beliefs and practices in the USA, and provides a detailed overview of an important aspect of American culture. Data was collected as part of a two-step interview survey (Faith Matters 2006, 2007)) which involved more than 3000 respondents across the USA. The series
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Summary: A sociological study of the landscape of American religion, the connections between religious and political attitudes, and changes between 2006 and 2011, when the newest edition of this work was published.

If my Facebook newsfeed is any indication, we do not heed, at least on social media, the old social dictum of refraining from discussions of religion and politics in social situations. What I think this reveals is the vibrant and diverse religious and political landscape in the United
This was a really interesting book providing a picture of the history and relationships and changes in religion in America over the years. It's well researched and the authors do a good job of helping readers understand several different religions specifically and create a greater appreciation and respect for others' beliefs. One of the most important founding principles of our country was religious freedom. This freedom creates and allows for a diversity of faith and belief. It's interesting to ...more
Lisa Reising
A wonderfully researched book with all kinds of facts, figures and charts. It does not feel biased toward certain conclusions, and the conclusions seem logical and believable given the statistics. I ended up skimming through a lot of it because it is thick and scholarly - although very readable. I liked the vignettes - glimpses into beliefs and lifestyles of a variety of belief systems. I wouldn't mind buying my own copy to be able to reference when specific topics come up - a good resource for ...more
Shirley Freeman
This one took a couple months to finish - it's not a page turner, but I'm very glad to have read it. If you liked Robert Putnam's earlier book about social capital, Bowling Alone, you'll find this one of interest. Using huge data sets and in-depth statistical analysis, Putnam and Campbell describe the state of religion in America over the past 5-6 decades. The statistical chapters are interspersed with 'vignettes' - case studies of a dozen real congregations in the United States. The authors con ...more
Jeff Gasser
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. You gotta push through some of the data and just accept the fact that you probably won't remember any of it. But that brief moment when you peer into the soul of America makes it worth it. Contains a lot of gems that can help you better understand your own faith community and others: trends of religious observance, conservative and liberal religion, religion and charity, conversion, the truth about the nones, the rise of Latino Catholics, the rise and fall and rise and fall of religion ...more
Sharman Wilson
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion-non-lds
This book was chock full of info and commentary on religion in America. I find myself going back for this or that study, poll, or story, which makes me glad I bought it instead of borrowing--I definitely need my own copy and markings.
Fran Caparrelli
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting and I just am always amazed that a concept like religion can be such a dividing point among human beings. My idea of religion is that it is practiced to help humans be better humans to their fellow beings.
Bogged down in statistics in places, but still an interesting read; the portraits of individual congregations ("vignettes") help a lot to break up the numbers crunching. Audio narrator did a wonderful job making such a challenging project come alive.
Note: This review is of the print edition, not the Kindle.

Overview: American Grace is a massive sociological description of Christianity in the United States. Its primary data source is the Faith Matters survey, a 2006 poll of approximately 3,000 respondents with a 2007 follow-up of approximately 2,000 of those same people. Its most important benchmark is a religiosity index, culled from a subset of the Faith Matters questions. The book is supplemented by a number of vignettes of American churc
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely interesting book about the state of American religion circa 2010. The authors are sociologists who rely on detailed studies of American's religious practices and faith to inform the book. They state at the outset that as compared with other nations, America is highly religious, diverse and tolerant. They discuss the three phases of participation in religion in the past 75 years, from the era of high attendance in the post war years to the decline in practice following the Vi ...more
Brian Eshleman
I got what was promised, I guess. I got a lot of numbers describing the religious and the irreligious. I even got some isolated narratives. There just weren't a lot of gems that will stick with me now that the book is finished.
Finally! I'm done!! After renewing the book five times (with two separate checkouts) I have finally read the last page!

It's a bit on the long side. But in its favor, the print is not miniscule and there are plenty of graphs and charts (some a bit more obtuse than others) that take up considerable space, too.

American Grace provides some fascinating insights into religious life in the United States over the past seventy or so years. Putnam and Campbell trace the "shock and two aftershocks" that pr
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this five stars because I found it really fascinating, but it is quite long and a lot of readers might get bored by all the statistics and graphs and charts. American Grace is composed of hard sociological data and cultural vignettes in roughly equal measure. Campbell and Putnam, professors of political science and public policy, respectively, assembled their study of faith in today’s America using two main sources. One was the Faith Matters survey: a survey of a little over 3000 Amer ...more
I requested American Grace from the library because it was repeatedly footnoted in Elder Quentin Cook's talk from the April 2011 LDS General Conference, and I wanted to know more about what it said. This lengthy tome discusses the findings of the authors' 2006 and 2007 "Faith Matters" survey, a massive study of religious, political, and civic attitudes and behaviors of Americans across the faith spectrum. Interspersed with the statistical analysis (and plenty of charts and graphs) were vignettes ...more
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, politics
Robert Putnam and David Campbell present data analysis from their own comprehensive research to paint a detailed picture of religion in America, I really enjoyed their examination. They address a variety of measures to paint this picture including history, politics, public & private religiosity, literal versus metaphorical interpretation of scripture, civic involvement, charitable contributions, etc. The authors also intersperse throughout the book a number of qualitative case studies from i ...more
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
major sociological study full of a million charts and statistics. If it has a bias, i cant see it. endorsed by folks all over the spectrum as far as i can gather. So here are some cold facts:
Regarding Americans:
80% are certain that there is a God
40% attend church nearly every week
30% are evangelical
25% are catholic
15% are mainline protestant
9% are black and black protestant
15% claim no denominational affiliation (this was 7% in 1990)
2% are mormons
2% are jews
1/3 of americans change their
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it is a few years old, I became aware of "American Grace" at a presentation on the increase in religiously unaffiliated individuals. I checked the hefty hardcover out of the local library, but also e-borrowed the unabridged audio book (19 hours!) to coincide with my daily commute. Make no mistake: this is A LOT of information to get through.

The information is absolutely fascinating! At times, during the drive, I have no doubt I missed some data, but the overall sense of the information
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s thick, but readable, an analysis of contemporary American religion that blends ethnography with careful quantitative analysis. The authors paint a “historical backdrop” that’s sort of a Hegelian thesis-antithesis pendulum: moving from the “shock” of alienation of Baby Boomers from conventional religion (1960s through early 1970s), to the first “aftershock” of the rise of Evangelicals and the Religious Right (1970s and 80s), to the second “aftershock” of many Americans moving in a non-religi ...more
Jay Winters
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Closing: It took me forever to finish this book - started in early February. But that wasn't because it wasn't readable or interesting - it was just long. In fact, Putnam and Campbell have put together one of the most readable and exhaustive tomes on the sociology of America's religion that I have ever seen.

Describing the data of the "Faith Matters" Survey of 2006, Campbell and Putnam comb through the data to show us what Americans believe, how they behave, and who have a sense of belongin
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book, particularly apt given the Republican field in the presidential election. Here you can find out all about what motivates all those "evangelicals" that Ted Cruz is enticing. What percentage of the American population believes the world is coming to an end soon? How many believe that only people of their own faith can get into heaven? What percentage of the clergy feel the same way? (Hint: more than the flock, by a lot).

The authors describe religion sort of as a entrep
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While a long academic treatise (and so definitely not a quick read), AMERICAN GRACE should be read by anyone interested in the intersection of faith and culture. Putnam has done the legwork for investigating what Americans believe, the role of church in our politics (and vice versa), as well the roles of race, ethnicity, denominational affiliation, intermarriage, the experience of pluralism, etc. So many commentators get the nuances wrong (because faith dynamics are indeed complicated) but Putna ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this is NOT a riveting book - it IS eye opening if you take the time to read (or as in my case listen to) it. While religion DOES indeed play a role in America - you may be surprised to hear how it does and in many ways does NOT have the impact you might think it does.

From race to womens issues to matters of sexuality and politics this books provides a fairly expansive look at how religion has and continues to shape our views on life.
Dave Lester
Here is a comprehensive look at American Religion and what people think about various faiths, practices and about God. Authors Robert Putnam and David E Campbell are incredibly thorough in their research and presentation of the results of their far reaching surveys. They also seem very even handed and fair in their work to faith perspectives.

The book is loaded with statistics that were gathered from the aforementioned wide reaching surveys. The most fascinating part of this book is finding out w
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Robert David Putnam is a political scientist and professor of public policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also visiting professor and director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change, University of Manchester (UK). Putnam developed the influential two-level game theory that assumes international agreements will only be successfully broke ...more
More about Robert D. Putnam...
“Once we know how observant a person is in terms of church attendance, nothing that we can discover about the content of her religious faith adds anything to our understanding or prediction of her good neighborliness...In fact, the statistics suggest that even an atheist who happened to become involved in the social life of the congregation (perhaps through a spouse) is much more likely to volunteer in a soup kitchen than the most fervent believer who prays alone. It is religious belongingness that matters for neighborliness, not religious believing.” 1 likes
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