Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The Christian Churches and the Great War: England, Scotland and Wales

Snape, Michael

The Christian Churches and the Great War: England, Scotland and Wales Thumbnail


Authors



Abstract

In discussing the historiography of the Great War and the Christian churches in Great Britain (for our purposes, England, Scotland and Wales), the essential point to be made is that the religious impact of the Great War on British society has been greatly misunderstood. Allied to a mutually reinforcing discourse on the futility and disillusionment of Britain’s war experience, until quite recently the dominant narrative maintained that the war dealt the British churches an irrecoverable blow. Ultimately, the physical horrors and moral contradictions of this, the bloodiest foreign war in British history, resulted in a general loss of religious faith (or, given the contemporary boom in spiritualism, at least orthodox faith) which greatly accelerated the secularisation of British society — a process that was already well advanced as a result of industrialisation, urbanisation, and the scientific and technological advances of the nineteenth century. Buoyed by the nuclear era pacifism of the Cold War, and favoured by the secularising Zeitgeist of the later decades of the twentieth century, this view held sway for generations, with church historians of the Great War (who were often clergy themselves) being keen to point a ‘prophetic’ and reproachful finger at the misguided and even reprehensible conduct of their co-religionists between 1914 and 1918. However, this interpretation of the religious effects of the Great War on British society is now being superseded. It is the purpose of this essay to show how it has been questioned and also to indicate how a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the religious impact of the Great War on British society can be achieved in the coming years.

Citation

Snape, M. (2016). The Christian Churches and the Great War: England, Scotland and Wales. Revue d'histoire de l'EĢglise de France (En ligne), 102(1), 121-138. https://doi.org/10.1484/j.rhef.5.111321

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 17, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2018
Journal Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France.
Print ISSN 0048-7988
Electronic ISSN 2109-9502
Publisher Brepols Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 102
Issue 1
Pages 121-138
DOI https://doi.org/10.1484/j.rhef.5.111321

Files





You might also like



Downloadable Citations