Which had the most far-reaching consequences for American culture: the Enlightenment or the Great Awakening? Why?

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Because the United States came of age as a nation in the eighteenth century, all major movements of the time exerted considerable influence. In bare bones lineaments, one could say that the Great Awakening had more effect on American spiritual life, and the Enlightenment on all other aspects of politics and society. However, in most practical aspects it is difficult to separate their lasting effects.

Within a few decades of the Great Awakening, former British colonies where the movement had taken hold became a separate nation, one of whose foundational principles was the separation of church and state. Many have argued, however, that the United States is a Christian country and that the ethos of Protestantism was woven into the social fabric from the beginning. In that respect, the Great Awakening, along with its Puritan antecedents, can be said to have had the most durable effect: that of promoting what closely approaches a state religion. However, the schisms within Protestantism,...

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