Cover image for Religion and public life in the Mountain West : sacred landscapes in transition
Religion and public life in the Mountain West : sacred landscapes in transition
Shipps, Jan, 1929-
Publication Information:
Walnut Creek, CA : AltaMira Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
166 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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BL2527.W47 R45 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Huge mountain ranges and vast uninhabited areas characterize the Mountain West. The region is home to several dense urban centers, but there is enough space between cities for three very distinct religious cultures to develop. Arizona and New Mexico's religious public life is still dominated by the Catholic church which was in place three centuries before these areas became U.S. states. Mormons came to Utah and Idaho in the 19th century to set up their own church-state and only later were admitted to the Union. Religious minorities from Native Americans to "mainstream" Protestants must contend with these religious establishments. In the third subregion of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana no one religious body dominates and many inhabitants claim no religious affiliation at all. Religion and Public Life in the Mountain West explores these three distinct religious regions but then goes on to see how they work together and what they have in common.

Author Notes

Philip Deloria is associate professor, department of history and program in American culture, at the University of Michigan
Kathleen Flake is assistant professor of American religion, Vanderbilt University Divinity School and graduate department of religion
Walter Nugent is the Andrew V. Tackes Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame
Jan Shipps is professor emeritus of religious studies and history at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
Mark Silk is associate professor of religion and public life at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
Ferenc Morton Szasz, professor of history at the University of New Mexico
Randi Jones Walker is associate professor of church history at Pacific School of Religion

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This book, the second in a series of nine reports on religion in various regions of the United States, explores contemporary religious life in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. Although the region still features a spread-out population (22 people per square mile, compared to the national average of 80), it has the fastest-growing population of the nation. While Shipps and Silk concede that it is difficult to think of these seven states as a cohesive unit, they identify three religious traditions that dominate the area: Roman Catholicism, established by Spanish missionaries in the southwest in the 17th century; Mormonism, which dominates Utah and Idaho; and pluralism, the catch-all category which describes the more diverse states of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, with their mix of evangelical Christians, New Agers, Catholics and "nones" (those who claim no affiliation). The authors of the various essays pay special attention to the ways in which religion has influenced public life in the Mountain West through politics, philanthropy and education. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

This volume contains five essays that present not only demographics but also analyses and overviews that highlight the religious uniqueness of the Mountain West and invite comparisons with other regions of America. A chapter on demographics by Walter Nugent describing the Mountain West as an "oasis culture" is complemented by Ferenc Szasz's essay on the role of religion in creating a social infrastructure in the region. A wise editorial decision then breaks the region into three subregions that are examined in the remaining essays. Randi Walker discusses Catholicism in Arizona and New Mexico, alerting readers to some unexpected ways that religion finds expression in public life. In a carefully nuanced essay, Kathleen Flake argues that theological uniqueness and the recollection of persecution in the past almost insure the continued tension between the Latter Day Saints and other religious groups in the region. The interesting aspects of Philip Deloria's essay include his comparison of the religious ambiance of Boulder with Colorado Springs, and his treatment of religion among Native Americans. The introduction and conclusion by Jan Shipps sound high notes at the beginning and end of the collection. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate and graduate students; general readers. B. M. Stephens emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, Delaware County Campus

Table of Contents

Mark SilkJan ShippsWalter NugentFerenc Morton SzaszRandi Jones WalkerKathleen FlakePhilip DeloriaJan Shipps
Prefacep. 5
Introduction--Religion in the Mountain West: Geography as Destinyp. 9
Religious Affiliation in the Mountain West and the Nation--Religious Self-Identification and Adherents Claimed by Religious Groups, National and Regional Comparisonsp. 15
Chapter 1 The Religious Demography of an Oasis Culturep. 19
Chapter 2 How Religion Created an Infrastructure for the Mountain Westp. 49
Chapter 3 Catholic Heartland in Transition: Arizona and New Mexicop. 69
Chapter 4 The Mormon Corridor: Utah and Idahop. 91
Chapter 5 Polarized Tribes: Colorado, Wyoming, and Montanap. 115
Chapter 6 Conclusion: Sacred Landscapes in Transitionp. 139
Appendixp. 149
Bibliographyp. 151
Indexp. 153
Contributorsp. 165