Date of Award

Spring 2011

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Creston Davis


Religion has played an important role in the creation and dissemination of the idea now called the American Dream since the discovery of the North American continent. The first iteration of the American Dream manifested in the sixteenth century as a Return to Eden. The next phase was best represented by the Puritan quest for freedom of religion. In the eighteenth century, independence was the object of the American Dream. This was supported by the First Great Awakening. The nineteenth century American Dream can be characterized as opportunity as evidenced by immigration, westward migration, and the growth of commercial enterprise. The twentieth century American Dream began under the banner of achievement. After World War I, the advertising sector shanghaied the American Dream so that the measure of success was the acquisition of wealth and material goods. Religion, through acts of omission and acts of commission enabled the American Dream to become individual, materialistic, and debt-ridden. The twenty-first century war on terror, ascent of China, and economic collapse has called to question the future of the American Dream. There is a dire need for a fundamental recast of the next chapter of the American Dream. By guiding a return to the earlier American Dreams, religion could play a seminal role in this endeavor.