Religious Revival of the 1950s

Essay by jraminUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

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After Americans endured two decades of continuous depression, war and crisis through the 1930's and 40's, they sought a return to normalcy and longed to focus on the more private details of existence. Instead of national objectives, the public concentrated on family, home, and career, while becoming increasingly absorbed in religion.

As the 1950's saw America in a state of national exhaustion, religion-in-general experienced a surge in popularity. Many critical views were silenced or ignored as people became more accepting of a wide variety of beliefs. While the revival was unexpected and unstructured, several events fueled the movement.

World War II left the country weary and drained. During the four seemingly-endless years of conflict, almost all churches had rallied behind the war effort. Post-war America a burst in prosperity, and with this support, churches expanded. Church attendance soared while their purpose and goals shifted. As all denominations gained a more powerful voice, they used it to increase their role in society.

In 1950, several of the oldest Protestant denominations formed the National Council of Churches in order to improve relations with the government, encourage interchurch connections, and promote projects such as Bible translation.1 This organization also helped to do away with the harsh attitudes and antagonism aimed at Catholicism after the war. Toleration and acceptance seemed to be the key to deepened communication between both church and state as well and Protestants and Catholics.

Following World War II, an era known as the Cold War shook American faith in the possibility of a peaceful nation. A war with the Soviet Union looming overhead, the threat of a communist takeover, and the potential for nuclear disaster sent Americans rushing to churches in part to find a sense of stability and security. Survey data shows that Church attendance reached an all-time...