Religious Revival in the United States
A surge toward religion is under way in the United States. Church membership is on the increase, evangelists are drawing record audiences, religious books are on best-seller lists. Great numbers of persons seem to be looking for a spiritual anchor to give meaning and purpose to their lives. Dr. Joseph R. Sizoo, head of the department of religion at George Washington University, recently noted: “You don't have to travel very far in America to discover that a poignant sense of wistfulness is abroad in our land. The search for God is on.”
Churchmen at the same time are keenly aware that evils which religion is expected to correct—vice, crime, juvenile delinquency, the selfish pursuit of material gain—still abound. Many ask whether the rising response to the appeal of religion constitutes no more than a groping for escape from the trials of modern life. Churches are analyzing their own practices critically in an effort to determine whether secularization of religious organizations, rather than a growth of piety among the people, accounts for the mounting interest in religion. Clergymen are wondering whether they may have sought larger congregations without sufficient regard for the quality of faith of individual communicants.
Emphasis on Piety and Prayer in Public Life
The Eisenhower administration puts far more stress on religious faith than conventional politics requires. The President set the example at his inauguration in 1953 by offering a prayer of his own composition. Soon thereafter he instituted the practice of opening cabinet meetings with prayer. The Rev. Edward L. R. Elson, pastor of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, which is attended by the Eisenhower family, considers the President “a symbol of the religious awakening in our land.” Preaching recently in a Los Angeles church, Elson said the President's custom of going to church before playing golf on Sunday was having a favorable effect on the nation's religious habits.