A New Awakening.
The religious upsurge that followed World War II continued into the 1950s. By all concrete measurements—membership, contributions, media attention, films, and bestselling books—interest in religion was so high in the United States that optimists talked of a new awakening, with hopes that this one would affect American culture as deeply as those of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But critics from both the right and left of the religious spectrum speculated whether religion had made its peace with the secular culture and had become just another commodity to be consumed in the American marketplace.
Surge in Affiliation.
Optimists, however, pointed to concrete achievements. By 1960 an astonishing 63.6 percent of the population was affiliated with some religious group, and 60 percent of the people said they went to weekly religious services. The average annual monetary contribution to religious groups was at an alltime high.
The decade began with the creation of the National Council of Churches of Christ in America, which brought together thirty-one million members of the main line Protestant and Orthodox churches to work on a broad range of issues. Mergers continued to bring together groups long divided by issues that had lost their relevance. The...
(The entire section is 697 words.)
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