I’ve had a blog post about 1952-53 in my drafts folder for about a year. Really. I’ve been trying to get a bead on that time period for awhile. That same anxiety that we’re all feeling in the air right now in the US, I think people were feeling back then too. And the seeds of our own undoing were planted then. Here are some facts I’ve gathered:
- Thomas Nelson released its second edition of the Revised Standard Version in 1952, this time including the Old Testament. To religious conservatives, the translators were pretty sloppy, seeming to highlight contradictions between the Old and New Testaments.
- The first conservative evangelical Christian school started in 1952 down in Florida — Keswick Christian School. One of its alumni wrote about her experience in My Fundamentalist Education.
- In 1952 and 1953, the U.S. experienced an outbreak of 58,000 and 35,000 polio cases, respectively, up from a typical number of some 20,000 cases a year.
- President Eisenhower started the “Back to God” campaign.
- The Army-McCarthy hearings were just starting in 1953.
- The babies were still booming.
- I Love Lucy was in its second season.
- The Korean War continued as a hotter part of the ongoing Cold War.
- “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, thanks to the efforts of the Knights of Columbus, appealing to a newly-baptized Eisenhower.
- The Supreme Court heard Zorach v. Clauson, and released-time religious instruction diminished after that.
- Dr. Spock dominated the parenting-advice market.
And that’s the way it was . . . back in those blissful 1950s. When television couples slept in separate beds and the “coloreds” drank from separate drinking fountains and “fundamentalism” was not-yet-separated from “evangelicalism.”
This is the world in which Ted Mercer was writing.