Chapter

The Imprint of Individual Autonomy on Everyday Religion in the 1950s

Michele Dillon and Paul Wink

in In the Course of a Lifetime

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780520249004
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940031 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520249004.003.0004
The Imprint of Individual Autonomy on Everyday Religion in the 1950s

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This chapter explores religious freedom in America in the 1950s. It presents some studies to highlight the religious freedom people had experienced in that period. The freedom of individuals to define their religious identity and to exercise their own authority in regard to religion became especially pronounced in the 1960s. The data presented in this study explore whether the accented religious freedom ushered in by the 1960s already had some currency among ordinary Americans in the 1950s. Prior to the 1960s, religious freedom was primarily construed in terms of the Christian tradition and Protestantism in particular. The data indicate that a majority of the participants of the study construed decisions about church and religion in terms of choice. Individuals who invoked choice talked about religion in terms of preferences not beliefs, and about shopping around for a church that satisfied them—about going to different churches because they offered different conveniences.

Keywords: individual anatomy; religious freedom; religious identity; Christian tradition; church

Chapter.  8667 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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