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Unity amid Diversity? PowerPoint Presentation
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Unity amid Diversity?

Unity amid Diversity?

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Unity amid Diversity?

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  1. Unity amid Diversity?

  2. Contra Communists, “In God We Trust” • After WWII, with communism as a key external threat, American religious leaders emphasized a shared moral and religious sensibility binding the nation together and distinguishing America from e.g. Soviets • Presidency and prayers of Dwight Eisenhower • “Under God” inserted in Pledge of Allegiance • “In God We Trust” placed on all currency • Revivalism, with Billy Graham as central catalyst, helped promote image of a righteous nation over against godless communists

  3. Ecumenical Solidarity • Increased ecumenical activity at mid-century offers further evidence for the attempt at unity within diversity • FCC reorganized as NCC in 1950 • National Conference of Christians and Jews formed in 1927, later called National Council for Community and Justice

  4. Ecumenical Solidarity • Union or merger of denominations • Methodists reunite in 1939 • Presbyterians reunite in 1983 • UCC formed in 1957 • UU formed in 1961 • Vatican II as Catholic overture to other Christian groups • Election of President John Kennedy, a Catholic, shows at least a façade of unity over old divisions

  5. Cracks in the Veneer • Deep social unrest in the 1960s and 70s posed severe challenges for desired unity • Civil Rights Movement • Martin Luther King, Jr. drew from religious motivation in his challenge to legal segregation, and found support among religious leaders across denominational lines • Others, like Malcolm X, turned away from Christianity altogether, finding in Islam a ground for black identity and the quest for reform • Still others used religion to strengthen opposition to the Civil Rights Movement

  6. Cracks in the Veneer • Women saw increased opportunities in this period with the rise of feminism • Methodists first granted ordination to women in 1956 • Homosexual religious activism dates to the 1960s as well • War in Vietnam spurred cooperation across religious divisions, but also exposed fissures in American society

  7. Civil Religion as Basis for Unity? • As with communism in the 1940s and 50s, the fracturing of the 50s and 60s inspired some to seek unity • Sociologist Robert Bellah proposed the concept of civil religion as a solution to the sense of lost common ground and disintegration of community • Bellah’s civil religion existed alongside institutional Christianity, Judaism, etc., as a distinct entity • It was based on common belief in providential God acting in American history • Centered upon values of liberty, justice, and equality represented in founding documents and in rhetoric of political leaders, especially presidents • Bellah’s concept, marred by its failure to include those whose ancestors were enslaved or disenfranchised, nevertheless set the stage for similar quests in following years