Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Vincent W. Lloyd
Neopaganism, Religious pluralism, Spiritualism
This thesis explores the relationship between minority religions and American religious pluralism, an ideology which supports religious equality and functions through social norms and legal mechanisms. Examining American religious pluralism’s responses to efforts by nineteenth-century Spiritualists and contemporary Pagans to gain social recognition and political rights produces new insights into the nature of American religious pluralism. I argue that conceiving of American religious pluralism as a project with inherently Protestant Christian investments challenges its ability to support religious equality and exposes the ways in which it actively works to marginalize minority religions due to their inconsistency with the beliefs and practices of Protestant Christianity. The first chapter of this thesis examines how Spiritualism and Neopaganism challenge American religious pluralism’s understanding of what qualifies as a legitimate form of American religion. Chapter two investigates the ways in which Spiritualism and Neopaganism’s privileging of women contributes to their inability to become established modes of American religiosity. The third chapter explores the limitations American religious pluralism places on minority religions’ responses to death. I argue that although in some ways American religious pluralism’s treatment of minority religions has changed, a Protestant logic continues to influence American religious pluralism’s strategies for religious management.
Schoonmaker, Clara Marie, "From Spiritualists to Neopagans: Complicating American Religious Pluralism" (2015). Theses - ALL. 115.