In Gilded Age Manhattan, Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant leaders agonized over the fate of traditional religious practice amid chaotic and multiplying pluralism. Massive immigration, the anonymity of urban life, and modernity's rationalism, bureaucratization, and professionalization seemingly eviscerated the sense of religious community. Yet fears of religion's demise were dramatically overblown. Jon Butler finds a spiritual hothouse in the supposed capital of American secularism.
In God in Gotham: The Miracle of Religion in Modern Manhattan, Jon Butler considers these media innovations as but one part of religion’s evolving role in the city ... This tolerant, ecumenical spirit seems organic to a city in which religious buildings are abandoned and then repurposed by successive group ... Mr. Butler sees hope for the city’s religious future, in the form of evangelical Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and the arrival of new faiths from around the world.
Butler reveals NYC as a microcosm of the nation’s religious life, teeming with energy and vitality even in the midst of cultural secularization and urban troubles. The author deftly tracks how broad social changes and demographic trends came together to shape the role of faith in NYC ... An intriguing study of urban faith in the modern age.