Frances Fitzgerald on New England mega-churches

Frances Fitzgerald has had a long and distinguished career but it's interesting that she keeps returning to the topic of religion in modern society. (Probably her most well-known contribution in this regard isher study of Jerry Falwell's milieu.)Nowshe's visiting a new megachurchin New England. (subscription rqd.) Two observations: 1. Even more than elsewhere, because of the density of Catholic life in New England as late as the 1970s, the target market for the megachurch is disaffected or lapsed Catholics. Of these there are many, and they may now be the single largest group of "religious" people in the region. One wonders if New England is the next Quebec (i.e. quite rapid collapse of Catholicism) or if the bottom has been reached. 2. It's fairly rough sledding in New England for even a charismatic megachurch pastor, given a longtime regional suspicion (Catholic and post-Puritan) of "emotional" religion.

John T. McGreevy is the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

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