The culture of the mainline

Why don’t they listen?” Cosmopolitan elites the world over have asked this question about their provincial constituencies. But no such elite in any time at any place had more cause for exasperated puzzlement than the men and women leading the mainline Protestant churches of the United States in the middle decades of the 20th century. The people in the pews seemed to be following well enough through the 1940s and early 1950s. Congregations were even growing, especially in suburbs. But in the late 1950s churchgoers revealed dismaying limitations. Despite decades of earnest instruction on what a mature faith looked like, many of the faithful couldn’t quite get what was so dreadful about Billy Graham.


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