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The dominant tradition groups in mid-twentieth century America included many of the same mainline Protestant churches that had constituted the core religious groups for many decades (United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Unitarians, Methodists, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran) and some of the Orthodox churches (Greek, Russian, Antioch) .

By 1950 the dominant churches expanded to include the Roman Catholic Church and the Reform and Conservative Jewish traditions.

These religious organizations possess an awareness of their status not found among the three other types of religious groups and often work cooperatively through organizations such as the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

These religious groups are closely connected to other institutional power centers
• Their members are upper status individuals and are likely to hold influential positions in organizations constituting major institutional sectors.
• Members have also adopted "secular nationalism" as the basic source of individual identity.
• The groups themselves claim and are granted public standing as "civic religion." They broadly reaffirm a vague sense of moral rightness in the political and social order.
• The groups assume an activist, progressive involvement in important social issues of the day

Three sets of new groups are in the dominant tradition category after 1950, reorganized Protestant churches, liberalizing Jewish groups, and accommodating Eastern Orthodox churches.

These new groups were produced by merger and schism. The relationship of churches involved in merger or schism did not change significantly
• The parties to merger were already members of the core group
• The parties to schism continued to be members of the core group
• The issues involved in merger/schism did not have implications beyond denominational boundaries.

There are a number of new groups in the dominant tradition category that entered through the dominant tradition.

• The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 when the Evangelical Synod and the Reformed Church merged.
• The Evangelical Lutheran Church was formed in 1988 when the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches merged, marking the diminished importance of ethnic identity among Lutherans in America.
•The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was formed in 1983 when the Presbyterian Church in the United States and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. merged.
• The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren, churches which had historically been separated largely by different language traditions, merged.
• The National Missionary Baptist Convention was formed in 1988 as the product of a schism from the National Baptist Convention of America over private ownership of the Sunday school congregation and publishing house.
• The Progressive National Baptist Convention was formed in 1961 when a group of members who were committed to the struggle for civil rights withdrew from the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.

There are a number of new groups that entered the dominant tradition category through alternative traditions. The Orthodox churches did not recognize all of the early ecumenical councils and historically maintained a distinctive tradition within Christianity buttressed by strong ethnic and language traditions. However, some Orthodox churches have reached theological accommodation with the dominant Protestant churches and are now accepted within the dominant tradition category.

• Humanistic Judaism broke with established Judaism by rejecting traditional accounts of Jewish history as well as all supernatural belief, asserting that individuals bear responsibility for their own ethical decisions.
• What became the Orthodox Church in America functioned as an immigrant church serving Russian and other Slavic immigrants for a number of decades. It received independence from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970 and was subsequently admitted to membership in the National Council of Churches.
• The Evangelical Free Church of America was established in 1950 through merger of two Scandianvian Pietest churches that emerged out of nineteenth century revivals, the Swedish Evangelical Free Church, which dates to 1884, and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association, which also resulted from an 1884 merger of two Norwegian-Dane groups.
• The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is an Indian Christian church that originated in India and is affiliated with the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. The diocese in the United States was established in 1978 to serve the Indian immigrant population and became a member of both the World Council of Churches the National Council of Churches.