How did deism shape American religious life?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Deism has helped to shape American religious life both directly (by influencing people to believe in it) and indirectly (by causing backlashes against it).

Deism was important, for example, both in the Revolutionary Era and in the time of the Transcendentalists.  It influenced people such as Thomas Jefferson in the earlier era and the Unitarians in the 1830s.  Deism led to a decline (among some) in traditional religion and traditional religious practices.

As a backlash against Deism, we can see such things as the Second Great Awakening.  This was, in part, a backlash against the idea that God did not take a personal interest in the world and that people had no need of a personal relationship with God.

 

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