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The Making of Working-Class Religion$
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Matthew Pehl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040429

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040429.001.0001

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The Decline of Worker Religion, 1946–1963

The Decline of Worker Religion, 1946–1963

(p.145) 5. The Decline of Worker Religion, 1946–1963
The Making of Working-Class Religion

Matthew Pehl

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the decline of worker religion. Worker religion emerged as a strain within the broader culture of the 1930s, an era shaped by narratives of “forgotten men,” migrant mothers, and plain-folk communities. After the Second World War, however, the United States stood as the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation, locked into conflict with a totalitarian communist adversary. Religion became a powerful component of Cold War anticommunism and a bulwark for patriotic nationalism. This religious turn against communism was perhaps most painful for precisely those American leftists who had supported the radical dreams of the thirties, only to repudiate their seemingly naive idealism in the fifties. Therefore, as anticommunism remade Americans' attitudes toward capitalism, freedom, and liberalism, the religious idioms and political assumptions undergirding worker religion were likewise reexamined.

Keywords:   worker religion, communism, Cold War anticommunism, patriotic nationalism, anticommunism, capitalism

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