Monday, November 29, 2010

American Grace 2: Sexual Morality is the Dividing Issue

In American Grace, Putnam and Campbell argue that the triumph of liberal values in the 1960s produced a conservative reaction that came to fruition in the 1980s.

They empirically consider which values provoked the main reaction. They conclude that the religious right was not primarily produced in reaction to Great Society liberalism, nor the civil rights movement; not much by women’s equality; not much by the Supreme Court decisions. The biggest motive was moral decadence and sexual permissiveness. In the 1970s, the single most powerfully divisive issue was premarital sex.

“We argue that throughout these last five decades libertines and prudes have successively provoked one another: liberal sexual morality provoked some Americans to assert conservative religious beliefs and affiliations, and then conservative sexual morality provoked other Americans to assert secular beliefs and affiliations.”

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