The "Death of God"; no compulsory prayer or Bible reading in the public schools; nuns and priest leaving their orders for secular lives, including marriage—the religious controversies of the 1960s seemed endless. While these issues aroused much emotion, other, deeper social currents concerning race, gender and sexuality, war, and the role of churches in society changed the religious landscape of the United States. The apparent religious revival of the postwar period ground to a halt in the course of the decade. While religious commitment in the United States remained the highest in the industrial world, people stopped talking of a new revival and began to discuss decline. In 1957, 14 percent of the Americans polled said religion was in decline in the United States. In 1970 that figure had increased to 75 percent.
Mainline Churches Decline.
As the decade began, the mainline Protestant churches seemed to continue their dominance of society and culture. Reflecting the similarity of their views on society and faith, the leading denominations began the decade in what was called the Consultation on Church Union, which hoped to create a denomination of over twenty-five million people and preserve their leading role in the culture. In the view of many in this ecumenical movement, a united church would permit more effective...
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