Up to the decimation to Jewish population in Central and Eastern Europe, except for the Neologs, the "liberal" Judaism of that day, most Jews in that region were "pro-forma" Orthodox. There were, of course, Haredim, but most Jews observed a normative Halachic standards, some more strictly, others less strictly. The rabbis knew their stuff, and the Jewish communities usually did what they were instructed by them. In turn, most rabbis knew the upper, and lower limits of Halachic so they knew what to say, and how to say it. There were Jews who might be considered "secular", too. Even they were knowlegable about their "transgressions", not making an issue of what they "didn't do". Seems to me it's a power thing. Trouble is that as always Knowledge is Power. As it stands the CJ is not as strong in Torah scholarship as it might be to enable it to "compete" with Halachically Observant Jewish leadership.
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from the article: Who will save Conservative Judaism?