The history of the Watch and Ward Society following the controversies of the 1920s and 1930s is briefly reviewed. The strategies and tactics employed by the Watch and Ward Society help us better understand why mainline Protestantism’s efforts to impose a common civic morality upon American culture eventually failed. The collapse of its activities in the 1930s signaled the beginning of the end of Protestant cultural hegemony in the United States. The epilogue concludes with a brief discussion of the role of religion and participatory pluralism in American culture. The demise of the Watch and Ward Society teaches today’s culture warriors—on the right and on the left—that coercive methods employed by the critics of the moral reform movement may often ultimately fail to achieve the sort of cultural consensus that can serve the common good.
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