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The Religious Situation in the United StatesHans JoasEven for those who visit the United States only occasionally and lack deep historical knowledge of the country, its religious pluralism and vitality are probablyimpossible to miss. While the German village often seems to be built around itsonly church, its American counterpart generally features a large number ofchurches, often lined up along a single streeta reflection of the great variety ofreligious faiths. In Europe on the other hand, despite all the changes wrought byindustrialization and urban growth, flight and expulsion, the principle that therecan be just one religion in one territory is still much in evidence geographically.American churches are often provided with large car parks, and these regularlyfill up on Sundays, when services are held, but also throughout the day on weekdays, because a large number of activities are organized within the parishes andcongregations.After World War II, when settlement structures changed radically as increasing numbers of town dwellers moved into homes in the country, giving rise tothe vast suburbs, it sometimes seemed that the new malls in the open countryside were taking the churches' central place in social life. But before long,numerous new churches and synagogues were also constructed in these suburbs, and it is arguable that the average American suburban family continues toattend church more often than it goes to the mall (Butler 2004: 1375). In the

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