Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Theoharis, Athan

Second Advisor

Hay, Carla

Third Advisor

Leahy, William


This study, "The Drummer Changed Cadence: The Impact of the Dissident Movement on the Churches in the 1960's" focuses on how the Episcopalians, Mennonites, United Methodists, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists changed as a result of being confronted by certain issues which came to national prominence during the 1960s. While there were many problems during the decade, this inquiry is limited to the civil rights movement, the expanding role of the government through service programs, United States' involvement in the Vietnam War and the early years of the new women's movement. It is not the intent of this inquiry to concentrate on the conflicts themselves, but rather to examine how each of them re-shaped the day-to-day living experiences of the above denominations. In some cases this meant dramatic innovations, while in others it meant silence. As the different religious organizations supported the elimination of racial segregation and discrimination they became aware of the ways in which they fostored institutional prejudicial practices. Involvement in various government programs such as Head Start, subsidized housing and job training, challenged the ways in which many congregations thought of the separation of church and state. The federal programs' guidelines and objectives raised questions about the difference between religious charity and government assistance. The Vietnam War, and those who objected to it, challenged the prevailing just war theory and the scope of conscientious objector status. The public protest involved in both the civil rights movement and the antiwar dissent raised questions about the ways religious leaders entered into the national political debate. The women's movement which emerged in the 1960s emphasized the right of self-determination and equality for women. Within churches, many women sought to increase their participation in the exercise of real power. In understanding the changes in the nation's religious organizations during the 1960s, one is able to see the seeds of the religious right.



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