Religious revivalism in the early nineteenth century emphasized the need for reforming society by the new ideas concerning religion, and societal values. Let's discuss these two movements, and how it effects on the American socio-cultural identity.
I wonder if religion has had such a strong impact on American life because, in part, we have had such little religious conflict in this country. We have no longer history, as Europe has, of religious wars and even of relatively recent violent conflict due to religious differences (as in Northern Ireland).
These movements, especially the Second Great Awakening, have contributed to a strong populist, anti-intellectual strain in our politics that is often at odds with the reform movements that have also emerged from the same religious impulses. It is one of the more unique aspects of American politics.
Americans still think that we are better than everyone else, or that we can become better than everyone else. I agree with post #2 that we expect perfection. As the saying goes, Americans are the only people that expect to be happy. Maybe it is our sense of rugged idealism since our country started.
I think that these have helped to make us something of a utopian people. We think that we can and should have everything be perfect. That's good because it makes us strive for better things. But it's bad because it makes us angry at the government and disillusioned/cynical when things aren't perfect.