Undermined Establishment: Church State Relations in America, 1880-1920.

Handy, Robert T. Undermined Establishment: Church State Relations in America, 1880-1920. Princeton University Press, 1991.

Robert T. Handy examines the causes behind the rise and fall of the informal Protestant religious establishment in relation to the state over a forty-year period from 1880 to 1920. Handy argues that at the beginning of this period, the church, for the most part, the predominant Protestant establishment was in a more or less stable relationship with the state. This stability was evident in the predominance of the Protestant views on the relationship between church and state, the view of America as a Protestant Christian nation, the role of religion in common schools, and a general trend towards anti-Catholicism.
All of these views underwent radical shifts over the period Handy indicates. Among the reasons offered are: (1) the major demographic shift in the nations population with a large influx of immigrants over this period many of whom were Catholics and Jews; (2) increasing conflicts between the public and private school systems; (3) trends towards progressive politics involving subtle changes in the relation between the church and the state; (4) the rise of social consciousness within the religious establishment; and (5) the impact of the First World War.