|Title||Labour and the free churches 1918-1939: radicalism, righteousness and religion|
It is a commonplace that the labour movement was somehow nurtured within the witness for liberty of the Free Churches. Exploring this at a range of levels - including organisation, rhetoric, policies, electoral politics and people - this book demonstrates the extent to which this remained a reality into the inter-war years. The distinctive religious setting in which it emerged indeed helps to explain the differences between Labour and more Marxist counterparts on the Continent. It is shown here that this setting continued to influence Labour approaches towards welfare, nationalisation and industrial relations between the wars. In the process Labour also adopted some of the righteousness of tone of the Free Churches.
This setting was, however, changing. Dropping their traditional suspicion of the State, Nonconformists instead increasingly invested it with religious values, turning it through its growing welfare functions into the provider of practical Christianity. This nationalisation of religion continues to shape British attitudes to the welfare state as well as imposing narrowly utilitarian and material tests of relevance upon the churches and other social institutions. The elevation of the State was not, however, intended as an end in itself. What mattered were the social and individual outcomes. Socialism, for those Free Churchmen and women who helped to shape Labour in the early twentieth century, was about improving society as much as systems.
|Keywords||Labour Party, Religious Nonconformity, Church History, Church-State relations, electoral sociology, religion and politics|
|Published||06 Oct 2016|
|Place of publication||London|