Fundamentalism since the 1970s: An in-depth article | Grateful to the dead
The cultural concerns of fundamentalists since the late 1970s arose from the counterculture agitations of the 1960s and 1970s. The Civil Rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s became the pattern and impetus for radical feminist and gay-rights activism, and the sexual revolution of the 1960s fostered sexual permissiveness. The 1960s and especially the 1970s also saw conservative Christians enter a new era of political involvement as they faced state intervention in such matters as religion in the classroom and abortion. On the former, the Engel v. Vitale decision of 1962 declared government-imposed prayer in public schools a violation of the Establishment Clause of the constitution and the following year Abington Township School District v. Schempp declared against school-sponsored Bible reading. On the latter, Roe v. Wade, 1973, protected the mother’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
For the fundamentalists, each of these developments alone was troubling enough, but taken together, they seemed to amount to a full frontal secularizing attack. No longer, as in the era of the flappers, could conservative Christians dictate public behavior from the high ground of moral authority that came automatically with being part of the Protestant establishment. By the 1970s, there no longer was a Protestant establishment. Simply shaming transgressors would not work any more: a group rapidly losing status in the nation they had for decades and centuries thought of as their own preserve now had to discover new modes of public persuasion and political action.