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Spiritualism was a popular grass-roots thing. "...spiritualism was a popular rather than an elite phenome- non, spread more effectively by P. T. Barnum, who took the Fox sisters on tour, than by New York literati. Although historian Jon Butler has attempted to restrict spiritualism's clientele to "white, mostly Anglo- Saxon, middle- and upper-middle class former Protestants," scholars more widely read in the movement have concluded that spiritualists were a rather diverse lot.7 Ann Braude has uncovered significant support for spiritualism among women, blacks, urban and rural laborers, southerners, and Catholics. Lewis O. Saum has found that letters of ordinary Americans in the period immediately before the Civil War evinced "a large fascination" with mediums and their messages. Finally, R. Laurence Moore has concluded that spiritualism was "a truly popular movement in nineteenth-century America"
"What commended spiritualism to everyday folks was its democratic bent. "Spiritualism is democratic," a mid-century adherent affirmed. "It is addressed to the common people, and we are all common people."' Along with better-known religious populists such as Methodists and Baptists, spiritualists criticized the privileged knowledge of learned clergy and appealed to the natural wisdom of unlettered folk. They posited no external authorities that mediated between themselves and God or Truth. Each individual, whether clerical or lay, male or female, was free to follow her or his conscience wherever it led. More often than not, conscience led individual spiritualists to notions of liberty, equality, and democracy. Thus, spiritualism took its place alongside contemporaneous forms of populist religion that were eagerly democratizing the religious landscape in mid-nineteenth century America".
- ↑ Prothero, Stephen. “From Spiritualism to Theosophy: ‘Uplifting’ a Democratic Tradition.” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation 3, no. 2 (July 1, 1993): 197–216. https://doi.org/10.2307/1123988. p. 199.
- ↑ Prothero, Stephen. “From Spiritualism to Theosophy: ‘Uplifting’ a Democratic Tradition.” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation 3, no. 2 (July 1, 1993): 197–216. https://doi.org/10.2307/1123988. p. 199