cover image Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture

Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture

R. Laurence Moore. Oxford University Press, USA, $30 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-19-508228-9

Moore, a professor of history at Cornell University and the author of Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans , sees paradoxical connections between religion and various forms of commercial entertainment. In a novel approach to explaining the American church-state separation that yet leaves ``religion a central component of the traditions of laicity,'' the author traces the ``commodification'' of religion from the Mormon social halls, musicals and theatrical performances of the 19th century to the televangelical empires of Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart in the 20th. Moore looks at the application of skilled advertising techniques not only in contemporary electronic ministries but also in the mainline churches, which have made subtler adaptations to the pluralistic marketplace in such areas as fund-raising, for example. Thoughtful, nonpolemic and provocative, Moore's study is a significant contribution to the scholarship of American religious history. (Mar . )