Often controversial, religion has been an important force in shaping American culture. Religious convictions strongly influenced colonial and state governments as well as the United States as a new republic. Religious teachings, values, and practices deeply affected political structures and policies, economic ideology and practice, educational institutions and instruction, social norms and customs, marriage, and family life. By analyzing religion's interaction with American culture and prominent religious leaders and ideologies, this reference helps readers understand many fascinating, often controversial, religious leaders, ideas, events, and topics. Organized in three volumes devoted to particular periods, each contains a timeline of key events; an overview of the period covered; and essays that explore significant themes, followed by alphabetical reference entries. Each volume presents primary source documents introduced by a contextualizing headnote, and a bibliography.