The Great Divide.
The decade of the 1980s was a great period of restructuring for the majority of religions in the United States. Coming off the turbulent eras of the 1960s and early 1970s many traditional religious groups in the United States attempted to refocus themselves and sharpen their definitions. In the course of their doing so, several distinct factions and conflicts emerged. Among the most prominent were the divisions between religious liberals and a newer, more boisterous religious conservative movement. While by the mid 1980s many surveys were acknowledging the decline in mainline Protestant sects, Gallup polls by 1986 were reporting that three in ten Americans (31 percent) felt comfortable referring to themselves as evangelicals or born-again Christians. The meteoric rise of religious conservatism into the main-stream had an impact on many of the religious and non-religious events of the period as all of society was forced to reckon with this once-fringe segment of the population. The basis of the schism appeared to be the long-standing dispute of what role religion and faith should play in a person's life. Liberal churches stressed the message of the social gospel, while conservatives emphasized an obedience to a higher power and piety. Conferences and symposiums were held on the subject, but the rift continued to grow with no sign of closing the chasm. As Peggy L. Shriver, a...
(The entire section is 1650 words.)
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