Date of Award
The Congress of the 1950s unanimously passed seven different pieces of legislations related to religious faith from 1952 to 1956. The fact that these congressional actions passed with little or no dissent and the fact that the congressmen supporting the legislation offered similar rationales (e.g. the Cold War) told much about the early fifties. The fifties were a decade stereotyped as conservative and conformist during which citizens held family and religion above all else. I conducted research over about a twelve month span which overlapped with the eight month period in which I was writing the body of the thesis. When I began my research, I focused on the congressional records and the newspaper and magazine clippings covering only the issue of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. During my research on the pledge, I gradually began discovering other congressional actions involving religious faith in the early 1950s. I then did general research on the decade of the fifties and attempted to find any forms of popular dissent. I utilized The University of Mississippi's library, as well as interlibrary loan and the Tulane University library in New Orleans. Finding contemporary criticism of Congress's actions proved difficult, which in part lead to my conclusion. After discovering the seven pieces of congressional legislation (all passing within four years), reading the commentary of numerous historians of the decade, researching examples of recent controversies over similar subjects yet finding relatively no protest/criticism/dissent during the fifties, I decided that the congressional actions of the fifties related to religious faith supported the argument of historians that the American citizens of the 1950s held a conservative and conformist consensus seen in, among other things, the religiosity of the decade.
Layfield, Alexandra Clark, "Congress, Religion, and the Cold War Consensus from 1952-1956" (2005). Honors Theses. 28.