Religion in America After the Second World War Two
Many observers predicted that religion influence in the United States of will wane in post war America but contrary to this it grew even much stronger in the immediate period. During this period religion played a very important role in the lives of the people. It was an integral part of their day to day lives .these were the times when it was almost compulsory for every person to attend worshipping centre for at least once per day. Sabbath day was observed religiously, no many people worked on such a day and even businesses did not open. (Allit, P 2003 87) This characterized the religion in the United States of America. Nothing much changed as far as religion was concerned in the early 1950s.There are many issue and interest that arose but by and large religion remained a vibrant and important part of the society as it was in the preceding years. (Wilson, J and Schuck, P 2009 23)
One of the features that distinguishes the religion of the early twenties century and the post world war period in America is the diversity. American society has been known to embrace this concept for so long, its ready to learn what other cultures have to offer. The diverse American population brought with it different religions and denomination too. There are several religious groups that arose during this period some of them becoming more dominant overtaking the so called mainstream religions. Looking at the Christianity the main players before this period were the protestant establishments which included the Baptist, Disciples, Lutherans among others. This traditional Christianity had faced some challenges in the 1920s but as this post war period war progressed the parents of the so called baby boomers were moving into the suburbs where church and the family became very important pillars of the society. These two institutions had a very important role to play in the society during the conformist period; they served as the source of respect and security for the members of the society. This was a period that was characterized by classes through which different groups of people had to identify with. This is the period when the church membership soared and the funding of the church and its activities increased during this period. The church flourished at mid-century recovering from the war period and the challenges it faced from the literary elitism of the 20s. It entered this period; Catholicism was the most affected with most of its faithful joining other denominations. (Flowers, R. 1984 67)
The church enjoyed this peaceful landscape until the late 1960s and 70s when the church popularity started to wane as it was challenged by other institutions which emerged. These institutions ranged from the civil rights movements, feminist groups and alternatives to religion. They challenged the traditional faith setting, introducing new beliefs to the society. They challenged all those institutions which were for the establishment terming them as conservative. These institutions which included the churches were denounced by the young generation at this period which was more inclined into material world. This generation was more practical in seeking solutions which could only be found outside the religious circles. They sought gratification from the materialistic world with religion only taking a small part of their lives. (Pois, R, 1986 124)
The revolution of the 1960s changed people’s perceptions about the church and religion in general. The middle and upper classes students led the others in challenging the establishment. This is the time that a new lifestyle was introduced in the large America; this swing of change did not spare the religion either. The mainstream religion no longer represented the society spiritual interests. The American people had taken a new approach as many other alternatives to the religion were coming up. They now looked upon new kind of leadership that did not propel them in to the matters of deep religion. (Fernadez, G, 2004 331).
In the post 1960 period the faith scene has become more diverse coupled with complexity compared to what existed in the 50s.The American religion can be described as pluralistic in nature due to the baby boomers generation of spirituality seekers who were keen on reviving an energetic religion. Their energy has been countered by the non European religious societies whom were keen on advancing their course. All these combinations brought a new era in the religion field, perhaps interfering with the zeal that existed at the period immediately after the war. (Fernadez, G, 2004 338)
Despite the challenges that have continued to affect the religion groups the religious interest still remains vibrant in this country. It can still be described as one of the religious nations in the industrialized world where religion diversity is widely telorated.Vitality in the religious seen has continued to be seen with the revival of the traditional Christianity and more accommodating society which have sought and sustained the views of the non Christians. Religions though not as influential as it was still continue to play an important part in people’s lives. For example it is common to have people seek advice from the church when it comes to matters affecting their lives. This becomes an integral part of the society but in a declined frequency. With the declining religious observance in other parts of the world religious is still taken seriously in this part of the world though not at the same level as it was immediately after the Second World War.
Wilson, J and Schuck, P, Understanding America, Perseus Book Group (2009)
Flowers, R.Religion in Strange Times, Mercer University Press (1984)
Allit, P.Religion in America since 1945, Columbia University Press, New York (2003)
Pois, R, National Socialism and the Religion of Nature, Taylor and Francis (1986)
Fernadez,G,.Encyclopedia of Religion and war, Taylor and Francis(2004)