The year 1971 started out with a vigorous display of evangelical witness: Christianity was much in evidence at the nationally televised New Year’s parades and bowl games. Billy Graham, grand marshal of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, remarked that it was “like a revival meeting.”

That capsule description, magnified many times, could be considered an apt commentary on the entire year. For religious revival swept across North America and overseas during 1971. And religious headlines blared news of the colorful Jesus revolution, the exploding charismatic renewal among Roman Catholics, and an unprecedented interest among converted Jews for evangelizing their own with the Gospel.

Major denominations appeared to be stirring to the throb of renewed concern for personal evangelism, and mass crusades and organized cooperative thrusts crested in new highs of popularity.

Church and state interests intersected, and Supreme Court decisions interpreted the law of the land on government aid to private schools.

Missions and Christian higher education also made headlines in 1971 religious circles, as did denominational tensions in the Presbyterian and Lutheran households. Overall church attendance was up slightly, but membership was down. The financial pinch was felt keenly in most denominations, with more money contributed locally but less turned over to headquarters for national programs.

The ubiquitous Jesus movement picked up steam in the early months of the year in the Pacific Northwest; thousands of teens—most of them outside the institutional churches—made decisions for Christ and turned from drugs and revolution to a vast underground evangelistic movement called the “Jesus People’s Army,” founded in 1969.

Soon, impelled by gospel rock, ...

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