In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism

· Univ of North Carolina Press
2 reviews

About this ebook

Every day of the week in contemporary America (and especially on Sundays) people raise money for their religious enterprises--for clergy, educators, buildings, charity, youth-oriented work, and more. In a fascinating look into the economics of American Protestantism, James Hudnut-Beumler examines how churches have raised and spent money from colonial times to the present and considers what these practices say about both religion and American culture.

After the constitutional separation of church and state was put in force, Hudnut-Beumler explains, clergy salaries had to be collected exclusively from the congregation without recourse to public funds. In adapting to this change, Protestants forged a new model that came to be followed in one way or another by virtually all religious organizations in the country. Clergy repeatedly invoked God, ecclesiastical tradition, and scriptural evidence to promote giving to the churches they served.

Hudnut-Beumler contends that paying for earthly good works done in the name of God has proved highly compatible with American ideas of enterprise, materialism, and individualism. The financial choices Protestants have made throughout history--how money was given, expended, or even withheld--have reflected changing conceptions of what the religious enterprise is all about. Hudnut-Beumler tells that story for the first time.

Ratings and reviews

2 reviews
Third-party review
This was a selected history of how American Protestants have approached paying for professional clergy and the houses of worship themselves. It was well-researched and argued convincingly that the ...
Third-party review
This book contains a good readable overview of the transitions in America of how churches have dealt with the issue of having sufficient funds to operate. Its a good primer for anyone looking to learn ...

About the author

James Hudnut-Beumler is dean of the divinity school and Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt University. He is author or coauthor of three other books, including Looking for God in the Suburbs: The Religion of the American Dream and Its Critics, 1945-1965.

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