Matters of faith and practice cannot be ignored if we wish to understand everyday life in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jewish children had bar mitzvahs and bas mitzvahs, Christian children celebrated first communion and confirmation, and Muslims learned early in life the place of prayer in their daily routines. Hundreds of religious bodies flourished. Leaders continued to strive for church unity, even though their efforts had few discernible effects on individual lives. Similarly, they advocated positions on social issues of war and peace, racial and civil strife, economic justice, and world hunger; but except for activists in their midst, church members often failed to support or even accept those positions.
Religion in Everyday Life
Many Americans found inspiration, guidance, and fellowship in their churches, synagogues, mosques, and meetinghouses; but because these were human institutions, they were also places for contests over doctrine and practice and disputes over budgets, programs, personnel, and facilities. Many long-time church members could recount strife with fellow members in their congregations, and official and unofficial schisms within denominations were common. That may explain why many who claimed to have religious convictions had no formal religious affiliations and why polling data on church membership and attendance fluctuated.