In this pathbreaking study, colonial historian Patricia Bonomi argues that religion was as instrumental as either politics or the economy in shaping early American life and values. Looking at the middle and southern colonies as well as at Puritan New England, Bonomi finds an abundance of religious vitality throughout the colonial years among clergy and churchgoers of diverse religious backgrounds. The book focuses on 18th-century religious activity, when churches stabilized and extended their influence to all parts of the colonies, and examines the everyday life of the clergy, the tension between religious competition and religious toleration, and the attitudes and practices of churchgoers from every rank and region. The book also explores the tightening relationship between religion and politics--especially evident in the schisms of the Great Awakening, the growth of denominational factions, and the emergence of an "ideology of dissent"--and illuminates the vital role religion played in the American Revolution. Written with grace and style, Under the Cope of Heaven presents a stimulating new perspective on the formative era of American religious culture.