Tripartite Melting Pot

The 1950s and 1960s brought a new idea of common American religiousness, with America as a tripartite melting pot of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. A general acceptance for religiosity in a wider range of formats was developed, due to the perception that this spirituality would hold back the fearful alternative of an atheistic and communist America at the height of the Cold War. At the same time, the public began to develop the belief that one subculture should not exhibit complete control over the social agenda. It was more acceptable to hold personal religious beliefs that conflicted with the Protestant establishment, without pressure to change or conform, leading to a movement of individuals reconnecting with their religious and ethnic roots to develop their own spiritualities.12

  1. William Hutchison, Religious Pluralism in America (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 2003).


Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council, which focused on the promotion of ecumenical cooperation with other Christian faiths.

The openness towards other religions was also reflected in prominent religious establishments. The liturgical reforms of the Roman Catholic Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) validated a more diverse range of theological forms and showed a new openness to interfaith dialogue. Similarly, Protestant denominations perceived their assimilative approach to missionary work, particularly their pursuit of converting Jews, to be outdated, demonstrating a new level of respect for other religions.3

National trends were mirrored on a statewide level in Minnesota. The Minnesota Council of Churches, the statewide counterpart to the National Council of Churches, was founded in 1948 to represent a broad range of Protestant denominations. Most significant, however, was the formation of a Minnesota statewide interfaith movement during the 1960s and 1970s. According to political scientist Katherine Knutson, A combination of international advancements, such as those through Vatican II, combined with the role of religion in protests regarding the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, created a space for a heightened religious and moral presence in the sociopolitical sphere. This set the stage for the creation of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (between Protestants, Catholics, and Jews) and other interfaith advocacy groups5 .

  1. William Hutchison, Religious Pluralism in America (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 2003)

  2. Katherine Knutson, Interfaith Advocacy: The Role of Religious Coalitions in the Political Process (Routledge, 2013).