Here's another column bashing the mainline, repeating a number of claims that are off including that liberalism in the church is around 40 years old. A surprise to JG Machen who wrote against it 80 years ago.
A better date could be the late 1700s with Schleiermacher's work Speeches to Religion's Cultured Despisers where he reconciles faith and modernity. It's also evident in the 1700s in what would become the Unitarian Congregationalist split of the early 19th century.
It's what led to historical critical understandings of the Bible in the 19th century. The search for the historical Jesus didn't begin with the Jesus Seminar, it also dates to the 19th century. Matthew Arnold's work on metaphor, likewise.
And re-envisioning God? Far more radical at the turn of this century then what we see today. If you were to walk through the halls of the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1906 versus 2006, the willingness to radically revise religion was more evident then.
And Liberal churches from the Quakers, Unitarians, and Congregationalists were in the forefront of social movements including abolitionism. And starting one of the "sins" Unitarians and Congregationalists in the 19th century began ordaining women.
How are the 60's blamed? I think it's based on the principle that whatever of significance has occurred within one's generation. Also the conservative narrative still demonizes the decade. And the membership decline of *some* churches started at this time.
So you can draw causation, without worrying why liberal churches before the 1960s held their own or grew. And you can ignore liberal religious growth after the 60s such as with Reform Judaism. This piece has some other assumptions I'll work with tomorrow.