Religious Boom

June 23, 1955

Report Outline
Religious Revival in the United States
Depth of Current Interest in Religion
Changing Role of the Church in Society

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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May 29, 2020  Christians in the Mideast
Sep. 28, 2018  Christianity in America
Jun. 23, 2017  Future of the Christian Right
Jun. 07, 2013  Future of the Catholic Church
Jan. 2011  Crisis in the Catholic Church
Sep. 21, 2007  Rise of Megachurches
Sep. 14, 2001  Evangelical Christians
Feb. 26, 1999  Future of the Papacy
Dec. 11, 1998  Searching for Jesus
Jul. 22, 1988  The Revival of Religion in America
Dec. 02, 1983  Christmas Customs and Origins
Jun. 10, 1983  Martin Luther After 500 Years
Aug. 08, 1975  Year of Religion
Jul. 26, 1972  Fundamentalist Revival
Jan. 04, 1967  Religion in Upheaval
Aug. 03, 1966  Religious Rivalries in South Viet Nam
Nov. 11, 1964  Church Tax Exemption
Aug. 05, 1964  Catholic Schools
Oct. 14, 1963  Churches and Social Action
Jun. 19, 1963  Vatican Policy in a Revolutionary World
Jan. 05, 1962  Rome and Christian Unity
Mar. 26, 1958  Church-Related Education
Dec. 18, 1957  Church Consolidation
Jun. 05, 1957  Evangelism in America
Jun. 23, 1955  Religious Boom
Aug. 13, 1952  Church Unity in America
Feb. 12, 1947  Relations with the Vatican
Dec. 21, 1923  The New Schism in the Church and the Immaculate Conception
Popular Culture
Religious Movements