We Gather Together

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Stephanie Walters, Spring 2016

In We Gather Together, Neil Young examines the rise of a third major religious movement in American History and the rise of more conservative values in the mid-20th century. In the 1960s, 1970s, and into the 1980s there were multiple cultural turns which led to a conservative backlash. With the Civil Rights movement making many whites feel disenfranchised and out of power, the Roe vs. Wade decision, and the rise of women's rights absolutely terrified many in the working and middle classes. In order to fight back, the 1970s and 1980s saw a rise in conservatism which was pushed behind "the New Right". The New Right was made up of evangelical Christian sects such as Baptists, Mormons, and Methodists, as well as support from the Catholic Church. While Young argues that politics didn't necessarily bring forth the "New Right" he definitely spends the majority of his book arguing against his own thesis. In fact, politics makes up the basis of Young's book.

Young specifically looks at the rise of conservative values in public education. By supporting Republican politicians, the "New Right" saw a rise of prayer in schools, a rejection of scientific thought, and tax breaks or exemptions for public or private schools that followed Christian guidelines. With a more liberal world "out of control" before them, this conservative movement was pushed through in order to "protect" the American family, Christian values, and conservative ideals. Many of those in the working and middle classes felt out of control and used their vote to make sure that those who supported more liberal ideals were pushed out of political office, thus a new wave of more conservative state and federal governments. I the end, the Rise of Reagan proves that that Americans sought to refute more liberalized agendas and wanted the United States to focus on more conservative family values.

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