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Prophesies of GodlessnessPredictions of America's Iminent Secularization from the Puritans to Postmodernity$
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Charles T Mathewes and Christopher McKnight Nichols

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342536

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342536.001.0001

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 The Seventies and Eighties

 The Seventies and Eighties

A Reversal of Fortunes

Chapter:
(p.191) 10 The Seventies and Eighties
Source:
Prophesies of Godlessness
Author(s):

Joseph E. Davis

David Franz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342536.003.0011

This chapter explores the trajectories of two traditions of thinking about godlessness, which move in opposite directions in the 1970s and 1980s: the jeremiad tradition and the social scientific tradition. During this period, evangelicals and fundamentalists forcefully reasserted themselves in public life after decades of self‐imposed exile animated in part by stories of secularization and moral decay told by leaders Francis Schaeffer and Jerry Falwell. They entered the 1990s with new confidence and renewed hope. Many sociologists of religion, by contrast, were surprised by the surge of new religious energy and mobilization. They lost confidence in their predictions of religious decline and basic assumptions about the triumph of scientific rationalism. By the 1990s, consensus on their “secularization thesis” had collapsed.

Keywords:   Jerry Falwell, Francis Schaeffer, jeremiad, evangelical, fundamentalist, moral decay, sociology of religion, rationalism, secularization thesis

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