New PDF release: Our modernity

By Partha Chatterjee

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Twenty years later that ratio had dropped to seven new members by profession for every four lost by death. A similar, but less dramatic pattern occurred in the Lutheran Church in America. In 1963 LCA parishes received sixteen new members by the basic initiatory rites (adult baptisms, confirmation, restoration) for every four confirmed members who died. Twenty years later that ratio had dropped to ten confirmations, restorations, and adult baptisms for every four deaths. In 1960 three denominations came together to form The American Lutheran Church (ALC).

In 1952 the adult attenders on Sunday morning in the typical Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Disciples, or Congregational worship service were approximately 53 percent female and 47 percent male, almost exactly the same as the distribution of the adult population. By 1986, with the exception of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, these ratios were closer to 60 percent female and 40 percent male with many congregations reporting a 63-37 or 65-35 ratio. The female-male ratio in the adult population had changed only from 52-48 in 1952 to 53-47 in 1986.

Influences in the Political Arena For some the most interesting evidence that the religious scene has changed since the 1950s is in the cast of characters who are seeking to influence partisan policies. The general interest in this change is reflected in the fact that Time ran a seven-page article on the subject in its September 2, 1985, issue. In the 1950s and 1960s liberals from both the mainline Protestant churches and Catholic parishes united in their efforts to influence national policy on such issues as race, poverty, housing, public education, urban renewal, and the war in Vietnam.

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Our modernity by Partha Chatterjee


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