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The Decline of Christendom in Western Europe, 1750–2000


Established churches and the growth of religious pluralism:
a case study of christianisation and secularisation in England since 1700

David Hempton

Secularisation theories have largely been abandoned by most of their erstwhile inventors as being in applicable to most parts of the world except western Europe. Indeed all kinds of theories of historical inevitability have taken a fearful pounding in the half-century since the publication of Sir Isaiah Berlin's famous lecture on the subject at the London School of Economics in 1953. 1 History without contingencies is like life without choice, but contingencies require explanatory frameworks. The purpose of this chapter is to advance an argument about the process of religious change in England from around 1700 which takes account of contingencies, but which seeks to establish analytical structures of more general application. The argument is that in England the rise of a more pluralistic religious society in the nineteenth century led to an increase in the social significance of religion (however that is to be measured) in the short run, but that the distinctive way in which it happened posed more serious problems for churches in the twentieth century. Ironically, the rise of a more voluntaristic and competitive religious environment in England helped erode some of the conditions that had nurtured its own development. What follows, therefore, is a tentative explanation of that story in England which is markedly different from the religious trajectories of other countries in the same period, including, for the sake of comparison, Ireland and the United States.

In the eighteenth century, established churches, largely untroubled by notions of social utility and still preoccupied by the theological battles of the Reformation period, 'were not so much expected to do things as to be things'. 2 Within Anglicanism the allegedly consensual Thirty Nine Articles were often bitterly fought over by those in search of the true Reformation principles of the Church of England, but the ancient administrative structures of the Church were relatively uncontentious. The Reformation had not disturbed the old medieval parish structure but it did bring the laity, as governors and property owners, firmly into the centre of ecclesiastical management. 3 What had to be managed wasa system of territorial parishes of uneven size and importance serviced by the largest single profession in the eighteenth-century state. The system had never been designed with pastoral efficiency in mind and bore no more relation to demographic realities than the eighteenth-century electoral structure, which 81 was an equally ramshackle inheritance from the past. 4 In a society in which patronage, property rights and social hierarchy were the really vital ingredients it is well to be reminded that religion was part of a wider social system and not a separate spiritual sphere entire unto itself. 5 Established churches have therefore to be judged not against the criteria employed by later generations for whom religion had become mostly a matter of voluntary commitment, but within frameworks of meaning appropriate to eighteenth-century culture and conditions. In essence that means less concentration on the performance of the Church and more on its social significance. This is no easy task, however, for not only were the clergy of established churches themselves a far from homogeneous social group, but they had to serve an even more socially variegated laity. 6 Moreover, as early modern historians have shown, understanding the social function of religion poses obvious difficulties in societies where 'a wide range of people share the same symbols, texts and rituals, yet may understand them in a multitude of different ways'. 7 Many churches bear the same labels now as they did in early modern Britain, but their social significance has changed dramatically. Familiarity has all too often restricted historical imagination.

The Church of England in the eighteenth century was both a formidably strong and deceptively weak institution. Episcopalianism had spread to most corners of the British Isles, but it did not command the loyalties of the majority of the Scots or the Irish. Roman Catholicism had not been eradicated, Protestant Dissent had become a permanent feature of British society and the Toleration Act of 1689 had seriously undermined the legal basis for the enforcement of religious uniformity and moral discipline. Although the general tendency of recent scholarship has been to show that church courts in the eighteenth century did not wither away as quickly as was once assumed, there is no denying their general decline from mid-century onwards. The decline of Puritanism, the expansion of the economy, the growth of the population and the erosion of the coercive powers of the deanery courts all contributed to a freer atmosphere. Assiduous bishops, like Samuel Peploe of Chester, could still crank the machinery against fornication, bastardy, adultery and cohabitation in the 1730s and 1740s, but the growth of non-appearance before the courts, especially in the more populous and industrial areas, was a sure sign that the old order was simply fading away. 8 By the late eighteenth century churchmen were forced to conclude that persuasion offered better returns than coercion and that the future lay more in clerical example, religious education and internal reform of the church than in the legal enforcement of its moral prescriptions.

The diminution of coercive power was not necessarily disastrous for the Church of England, which had always valued acquiescence in the Church's rites more highly than enthusiastic devotion to its ministry, but it did point up a more general shift in the relations between Church and people over the course of the eighteenth century. Attendance at church services, participation in catechising and the practice of communion all became more dependent on the inclination of parishioners than on the insistence of the clergy. This subtle shift in the balance of power between producer and consumer was an inevitable consequence of the Toleration Act and made the established churches more vulnerable to the possible attraction of religious alternatives. This was disguised for much of the century, because the alternatives were thought not to be, and indeed were not, very threatening. One of the most consistent features of clerical responses to visitation enquiries before 1780 is their relatively dismissive attitude to the activities of Dissenters, Roman Catholics and Methodists. 9 The first two were thought not to be on the march and the Methodists were divided up between those of 'Mr John Wesley's persuasion' who 'attend the church constantly and communicate regularly' and those who were regarded as propertyless and brainless enthusiasts. 10 Some clergymen grudgingly welcomed the former while the latter were regarded as beyond the communion of the Church and peripheral to the functioning of civil society. There were of course sporadic attempts to stop them, but outside periods of national emergency most Anglicans ignored them because they thought that Methodists of low social degree simply did not count for anything in the political commonwealth. The Church of England's much maligned complacency in the eighteenth century, in so far as it existed, was therefore part of an ecclesiastical mentality which assumed that the worst excesses of the seventeenth century had been survived, and that the great bulk of men of property and influence at the centre and in the localities were friends of the Church. 11 Both assumptions were in fact correct.

The extent to which the Church of England had become dominated by a propertied frame of mind is only now receiving proper treatment. 12 Commercial dealing in advowsons, tithe farming and litigation, pew rents and disputes based on social status, concern for church fabric and the upkeep of parsonages, and an almost obsessional interest in the value of livings all contributed to a propertied mentality which came to dominate the church. God and Mammon apparently could be served together and this was reflected also in an important shift in attitudes to poor relief and charity. A decline in benefactions for charitable purposes was accompanied by an ideological shift away from charity as a form of relief from suffering to a concept based more on a strategy for securing self-improvement. Furthermore, Gilbert's Act of 1786 was an indication that concern about the funding of poor relief was moving beyond the confines of the parish to the doors of Parliament. Here, as in so many other areas, there were straws in the wind which scarcely threatened the Church's position in the eighteenth century, but which boded ill for the more trying conditions of the nineteenth century. The invasion by the laity of the Church's privileged position in the construction and delivery of social policy, therefore, has roots deep within the eighteenth century and beyond. 13

The argument being developed is that the Church of England was an institution reasonably well attuned to the social conditions of the eighteenth century. It had legal powers and privileges, but was not unduly inquisitorial or persecuting. It was supported by property owners and in turn both upheld property and was itself a form of property. Its clergy in the main were neither pious enthusiasts nor scandalously negligent. Its parish churches were focal points of a genuinely popular Anglicanism which valued tradition, community, ritual, obedience and harmony. 14 The great explosion of literature in the past decade either defending the Church's record or attacking its shortcomings has considerably enriched our understanding of how the Church functioned, but seems to have arrived at a predictable stalemate. 15 The eighteenth-century Church was not as mediocre as its subsequent evangelical, tractarian and utilitarian critics thought it was, but neither was it a paragon of pastoral devotion and evangelical zeal. It was aworking establishment with all the structural and administrative problems associated with a large institution with weak central authority, little proper control over clerical recruitment and training, and no clear statement of what it wanted to achieve beyond the steady performance of Christian ordinances and the maintenance of social cohesion. As Professor Ward has observed (after a quarter of a century's study of the eighteenth-century Church), the historian neither has a god's eye view of its operation nor ought to spend very much time enquiring how successful the Church was in fulfilling purposes which it never set itself. The point of this discussion is not to induce despair in the historian, but to suggest that the traditional way of explaining the rise of religious pluralism in England as a direct consequence of the mediocrity of the Church of England is not a very fruitful line of enquiry. The Church was not self-evidently more mediocre in 1780 than it was in 1680, yet its fortunes in the half-century following each date could hardly be more different. Whereas in the former period the Church shrugged off political attacks from without and internecine conflicts within to emerge as the almost unchallenged church of the English, 16 in the latter period it was on the brink of becoming a minority religious establishment, and some of its most ardent defenders expected it to be disestablished within a decade. 17

A more profitable, though admittedly more complex and risky, way of investigating the rise of religious pluralism is to suggest that established churches, through relatively generous religious toleration and the extensive dissemination of basic Christian knowledge throughout the population, helped create the minimum conditions within which others could mount a challenge to their hegemony. Early Methodists, for example, by claiming devotion to the creeds, liturgies and sacraments of the Church, and by refusing to shelter under the legal protection afforded by the Act of Toleration, were in reality acting as Trojan horses within the establishment. 18 The principles of voluntarism and associationalism, which were clearly antithetical to the ideals of a truly national church, became deeply rooted long before formal separation in the late 1790s flushed the issues out into the open. Methodism not only organised pious Anglicans into independent religious societies, but also forged new links with Dissenters. Perhaps even more importantly, the intense piety of its adherents set up tensions within parishes between the religious and the irreligious, the saved and the lost, and the rough and the respectable. Such divisions helped disturb the parochial consensus upon which a truly popular Anglicanism was based. 19 By the end of the eighteenth century the Church of England could rely neither on the church courts nor on old-style Church and King sentiment to maintain parochial discipline against 'impudent, new fangled, rambling teachers, called Methodists'. By the time the Church's diocesan leaders hit on the idea of prohibiting itinerant preaching as a means of reimposing Anglican control, neither Parliament nor the country was prepared to co-operate. 20 Voluntarism, albeit still circumscribed by social pressures to conform, had arrived and was not going to go away.

If the eighteenth-century Church of England had unconsciously offered legal and sacramental shelter for one of its most vigorous nineteenth-century competitors, all of the established churches in the British Isles contributed to the later success of evangelical dissenters by successfully laying the foundations of religious knowledge upon which evangelical zeal depended. By concentrating their efforts on controversial conflicts within Anglicanism or in assessing the role of the Church in periods of national crisis, historians have been guilty of underestimating the efforts made by the Church to disseminate basic Christian knowledge. Catechisms in particular were used extensively in churches, schools and homes to inculcate knowledge of the four basic staples of Creed, Decalogue, Lord's Prayer and Sacraments. 21 Several hundred catechisms designed for different levels of personal and religious maturity were composed, printed and distributed to all parts of the country between the Reformation and the middle of the eighteenth century. Clearly too much should not be claimed for the effects of the rote memorising of basic statements of Christian belief, but with millions of cheap versions in circulation it is clear there is at least some connection between catechising and popular literacy. Moreover catechising was reinforced by prayers, collects, canticles, religious verse and metrical psalms which resulted in a growing attachment of parishioners to the Book of Common Prayer. 22 Ian Green has shown that even in the post-Reformation Church the words of the catechisms were visually reinforced in parish churches by commandment boards, painted scripture texts, sacred utensils, religious monuments and gravestones. 23 But perhaps most intriguing of all is his suggestion that, in the interests of simplifying complex doctrines and of offering reassurance to the anxious, catechetical instruction may have reinforced the popular Pelagianism of ordinary parishioners. 24 It was this very characteristic that evangelical enthusiasts most deplored, and perhaps most exploited, among the people instructed by the Established Church. A vigorous appeal to justification by faith and the new birth had particular resonance for those school edin basic Christian concepts and persuaded of the need to live a godly life, but apparently denied the compelling attraction of the immediate efficacy of divine forgiveness. In such circumstances John Wesley's 'evangelical catholicism', which was 'a theological fusion of faith and good works, scripture and tradition, revelation and reason, God's sovereignty and human freedom, universal redemption and conditional election, Christian liberty and an ordered polity, the assurance of pardon and the risks of falling from grace, original sin and Christian perfection', was particularly well suited to the religious training of the population he sought to influence. 25

Catechisms, though probably the most historically neglected form of popular print and instruction employed by the Church of England, were only part of a much more extensive flow of religious literature in the eighteenth century. Collections of sermons, biblical commentaries, classic devotional works, religious tracts and chapbooks, provincial newspapers, godly broadsheets and pamphlets appealed in different ways to different social classes. 26 Some of this material was crudely sensationalist, most of it never reached the lowest social groups, and much of it failed to connect with, or eradicate, the unorthodox supernaturalism of popular belief and practice, but cumulatively it had an impact. Michael Snape, whose study of religion in the northern parish of Whalley in the eighteenth century serves as a valuable antidote to too much Anglican hagiography, nevertheless quotes with approval the following extract from Samuel Bamford's memoirs showing the 'primacy—if not exclusiveness' of Christian concepts within a popular view of the world that was 'hybrid, heterodox and eclectic'. Owler Bridge…was to be much dreaded. Woe to the wight or the wean, who had to pass that way on starless windy night! My father, when a boy, went to take lessons from a wise-man at Hilton-fold, and consequently had to traverse the haunted field, and to pass the perilous bridge; but he seldom forgot to hum a psalm or hymn tune whilst on his way. 27

Eighteenth-century revival movements in all parts of Britain relied on the Christianising functions of inclusive established churches to lay the foundations of basic religious knowledge upon which they could make their more emotive appeals. Systematic studies of the Cambuslang conversion narratives of 1742, for example, have shown that although the converts were of humble social status, all of them could read. 28 Although the sample of 110 narratives (seventy women and forty men) is too small to allow any general conclusions, it supports the conventional wisdom that in the Scottish lowlands in the mideighteenth century most women and around half of the men could not write. 29 If the ability to write, therefore, is taken to be the appropriate measurement of literacy then the great majority of the Cambuslang converts were illiterate; butin reality they were not. They acquired their ability to read primarily from catechetical instruction and Bible reading at home, in parish schools and in the kirk. Peer pressure, accompanied by the availability of other forms of religious literature including psalm books, chapbooks and popular works of devotion, resulted in a further development of reading skills in teenage years. The Cambuslang converts were chiefly women of relatively low social status, but they were neither unfamiliar with the ordinances of the kirk nor unaware of the foundational concepts of the Christian faith when they felt themselves 'awakened' by the evangelical preaching of the New Birth.

A similar pattern has been identified in eighteenth-century Wales, where the growth of Methodism coincided directly with the setting up of Griffith Jones' remarkable network of circulating schools. 30 The schools were successful because they were cheap to run, were mostly conducted in the vernacular language and concentrated on the teaching of reading by means of catechisms, psalms and popular religious literature. As a country parson embarking upon a major parochial experiment, Jones could ill afford to lose the support of the clergy and patrons of the Established Church and he was consequently forced to distance himself from the religious enthusiasts he had once embraced. By his death in 1761 it has been estimated that he was responsible for founding over 3000 parochial schools in which some quarter of a million pupils, about half the Welsh population, were taught to read religious literature. 31 Although the chief beneficiary of Jones' remarkable achievement in the short term was the Established Church, which reported increases in attendance at parish services, in the longer term, improvements in 'religious literacy' benefited both Methodism and the more radical forms of Dissent which coalesced to deal such a heavy blow to the fortunes of the Established Church in the nineteenth century. 32

The tidy proposition advanced so far that the established churches of the eighteenth century, through their relatively high levels of religious toleration and their often unrecognised efforts to christianise the masses, helped lay the foundation for the remarkable rise of evangelical Dissent in the nineteenth century is in need of further refinement in the light of the most recent and most extensive study of the subject in England and Wales from the 1790s to the 1850s. 33 The main argument of Michael Watts' book is that evangelical Nonconformity benefited from the religious seed sown by the Established Church in the eighteenth century, but was unable to harvest it in the more trying conditions of the nineteenth century. In the subsequent harvesting of the crop by Dissenters, the author draws a sharp contrast between the predominantly middle-class Quakers and Unitarians and the predominantly working-class evangelical Nonconformists. Paradoxically perhaps, the former were this-worldly and largely becalmed while the latter were other-worldly and expansionist. Watts vigorously combats the alleged economic and political reductionism of Marxist scholars of religion by suggesting that the majority of evangelical Nonconformists were poor, female, superstitious, illiterate (the measurement employed is writing not reading) and unsophisticated. Most were converted before the age of 26; most were from religious backgrounds of some sort; most were psychologically prepared for conversion by incomplete youthful rebellion, sexual guilt, and fear of disease, death and eternal punishment; most were uninterested in radical politics except in periods of acute economic depression; and most were resident either in the countryside or in towns of less than 5000 people. Indeed, it is hard to resist the conclusion that in his efforts to ward off Marxist and Weberian arguments of social control and the Protestant ethic, the author portrays evangelical Nonconformists as the off-scouring of all things. It is difficult, at first sight, to square this argument with his emphasis on the achievements of the Established Church in the eighteenth century in preparing the religious ground for the evangelistic efforts of the Dissenters, but Watts does attempt a resolution of the problem. In a vigorous rebuttal of Keith Thomas' thesis that the Reformation led inexorably to the diminution of popular belief in magic and superstition, Watts suggests that established churches played an important part in reinforcing a supernaturalist view of the world in a predominantly superstitious popular culture.

There is consequently no contradiction between the conclusion drawn above from the study of the geographic distribution of Dissent, that Nonconformity often flourished in areas where the ground had been prepared by the Church of England, and the conclusion of this section, that Methodism and Dissent found their largest body of supporters in the worst educated and most superstitious parts of England and Wales. Both the teachings of the established church and beliefs inherited from pre-Christian paganism reinforced a frame of mind which accepted the supernatural as normal and which predisposed their holders to accept Evangelical beliefs in sin, judgement, instantaneous conversion, and heaven and hell…it was this mixture of Anglicanism and superstition that was to prove the most fertile ground for the growth of Methodism. 34

Ironically Watts' argument mirrors the view articulated over a quarter of a century ago by E. P. Thompson, an historian to whom Watts is implacably opposed (on ideological grounds) in all other respects. In one of his less well-known essays, 'Anthropology and the discipline of historical context', Thompson portrayed Methodism as a 'psychologically compelling' attempt to bridge the cultural gap between the erastianism and materialism of the Established Church and the superstitions of the poor. He suggested that Wesleyanism was explicitly a movement of counter-enlightenment in which Wesley reaffirmed scores of superstitions which Thomas described as being in decline: 'Among these were bibliomancy, old wives' medical remedies, the casting of lots, the belief in diabolical possession and in exorcism by prayer, in the hand of providence, in the punishment (by lightning-stroke or epilepsy or cholera) of ill-livers and reprobates.' 35 Thompson's suggestion that Methodism traded on the unorthodox supernaturalism of the poor is undoubtedly correct, but his emphasis on the erastianism, rationalism and materialism of the Church of England seriously underestimated the extent to which it too benefited from and collaborated with the 'superstitions' of the rural poor. Anglicanism in the eighteenth century wasa broad church, not only in the conventional sense of embracing different traditions of churchmanship, but also in the more popular sense of making connections with the diverse supernatural beliefs of its humble parishioners. Once that point is grasped the rise of Methodism can be seen from a different perspective, namely that 'widespread popular belief in the supernatural actually fostered the growth of early Methodism and Primitive Methodism rather than the other way round'. 36

What is ultimately at stake in Watts' wide-ranging study of the rise of religious pluralism in England and Wales is a self-conscious attempt to shift the debate away from explanations based on economic and political processes alone to take account of other important issues, including the existence of long-term patterns of religious geography in Britain, 37 the importance of psychological processes of guilt and fear among adolescents and young adults, and the attraction of dissenting communities as extended families of the faithful inculcating religious and social discipline. 38 But such explanations do not of themselves explain why evangelical Dissent made its most striking gains in rural areas and in towns of between 500 and 5000 inhabitants, while its progress was less spectacular in small villages and large cities. Small-scale industrialisation, short-distance population migrations and the growth of regional markets all helped erode the parochial stability and deferential relationships upon which established churches thrived. The mechanisms by which this took place are still shrouded in some mystery, largely because it has been assumed for too long that urban and rural religion were self-contained and separate, when in reality migratory patterns in early industrial societies were as much circulatory as linear. 39 The problem for historians is that many of the available source materials supply only cross-sectional data which obscure as much as they reveal. 'As soon as people are considered longitudinally', state Langton and Hoppe, 'that is, as living continuously through whole life-times rather than momentarily whilst a census count is made, some awkward questions about the urbanisation process arise immediately.' 40 What they are suggesting is that there was a much greater reactive exchange between urban and rural cultures in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Europe than is allowed for in crude statistical categories of urbanisation, and this clearly has implications for the study of religious belief and practice. 41 It is now becoming clear from a number of studies that short-distance population migration facilitated the transmission of evangelical Dissent in early industrial Britain and helped shape the religious geography of larger towns and cities. 42

Established churches, as much through their pastoral efficiency as their pastoral neglect, their de facto legal tolerance as much as their propertied privileges, and their supernaturalist message as much as their Pelagian imperatives, helped nurture the conditions within which religious alternatives could flourish. Evangelical religion supplied the fervour, economic transformation opened up the opportunities, and the erosion of social and political deference set the tone for a more competitive religious environment. Competition both expanded the market and divided the suppliers. In precisely the same period of time it took Wesleyan Methodism to separate formally from the Church of England (from the 1730s to the 1790s), it suffered manifold secessions from its own ranks as conflicts over religious styles and ecclesiastical government produced several new species and scores of regional mutations (from the 1790s to the 1850s). 43 Competition affected everything. Denominational self-consciousness triumphed over interdenomi national co-operation, first in the Sunday schools, 44 then in the establishment of foreign missions 45 and finally in the contests for supremacy over elementary education. 46 But the market brought religious discipline as well as ecclesiastical fragmentation. Pan-evangelical co-operation in the interests of reclaiming the ungodly operated both at the metropolitan centre and in the provincial peripheries of the British state. 47

The argument advanced so far requires careful elucidation. My emphasis on the role of established churches in creating some of the conditions for the rise of evangelical Nonconformity and hence of greater religious pluralism is intended to be neither a defence of Anglican deficiencies in the eighteenth century nor a repudiation of the view that evangelical Dissenters were as much reacting against the inadequacies of Anglican paternalism (in all its social, political and ecclesiastical manifestations) as they were benefiting from its limited pastoral success. 48 The point is simply that in explaining the remarkable surge of evangelical Nonconformity in the period 1780–1850, in all its regional complexity, not all the explanations line up conveniently in the same direction. Religious endeavour, as with all other aspects of human action, can give rise to quite unintentional results. In that respect, time will probably show that established churches in the British Isles in the eighteenth century were both educationally more successful and ecclesiastically more vulnerable than appeared to most contemporaries in the 1780s and 1790s and to most historians in the 1980s and 1990s.

The energy unleashed by religious zeal and religious competition at the turn of the century undoubtedly led to an increase in the religiosity of the British people in the nineteenth century, but the longer-term implications are not quite so clear. The chiefvictims of the rise of religious pluralism were the established churches, with their older notions of an inclusive, territorial and truly national church. The established churches in Ireland and Wales were first undermined, then reformed and finally disestablished. The Church of Scotland was split asunder in 1843 and never again threatened to deliver Thomas Chalmers' intellectually coherent, but hopelessly unrealistic, ideal of the Godly Commonwealth. 49 In England, the Church was first supported by money from the state, was then reformed in a utilitarian direction, and was finally left to its own devices. 50 Despite the unrivalled popularity of its rites of passage and its ability to ward off disestablishment sentiment, the Church of England's role as a truly national church was undermined from three different directions. First, the very social and political forces which made it impossible for the state to restrict religious toleration at the turn of the century soon made it impracticable for it to fund the expansion of established churches in the early Victorian period. The contrast between Lord Liverpool's willingness to grant one million pounds to build new churches in 1818 and Peel's flat refusal under pressure to do something similar in 1842 could hardly be more striking. 51 Peel's political instincts had told him that taxpayers would no longer willingly contribute to a national church and that any attempt to coerce them would simply rebound on the established churches themselves. Not only would the state not fund expansion, but also Parliament, under pressure from Irish Catholics and British Dissenters, acquiesced in the erosion of the Church's ancient privileges in the sphere of what came to be known as social policy. Second, both evangelicals and tractarians, with the best of intentions, established more rigorous criteria for acceptable Anglican devotion which almost certainly alienated as many as they were able to attract. 52 The same could be said for the extension of the practices of double duty and monthly communion, which may only have served to scare away the half-committed. Finally, the Church of England was increasingly forced to accept that it was only one (albeit the most important one) denomination among many in English society. Parish churches came to be used solely for services of worship; clergymen, revealingly, began to speak of parishioners and non-parishioners; and attempts to create a committed laity all too often produced a social elite as much as a pious elite. By 1870 the Church of England could no longer claim to be the church of the English nation, and by the end of the century the old inclusive parish church had become more of a resort for the decent than a resource for the community. 53

The truth of the matter is that by the end of the nineteenth century the establish mentarian foundations of the Church of England had been substantially eroded. The result was an Established Church forced increasingly to act as a religious denomination, but without the voluntaristic assumptions and resources that would have enabled it to perform that role more effectively. 54 Ironically, the Church of England's unconvincing lurch to voluntarism was matched by a reverse lurch to establish mentarian practices among many erstwhile populist Dissenters. Moreover, some have argued that a combination of free-market Nonconformity and the residual establish mentarian attitudes of the Church of England produced an over-supply of churches in late Victorian English cities, which, if anything, only hastened the speed of secularisation in the twentieth century. 55 For good or for ill, the territorial, inclusive and national ideals of the eighteenth-century Church of England have all but gone. But gone also, or at least steadily going, is the broad base of Christian knowledge and religious literacy which evangelical Dissenters were able to exploit so successfully in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In England at least, religious pluralism may have delivered impressive short-term gains at the expense of a centuries-old pattern of religious provision which was unspectacular but remarkably durable. It seems likely that, notwithstanding the additional emotional pizzazz of Pentecostal and charismatic renewal movements, there is no longer a sufficient bedrock of basic Christian concepts or of supernaturalist beliefs in modern English society for there to be a new surge of religious pluralism on anything like the same scale as was the case in the nineteenth century.

The contrast between what happened in England and the patterns that emerged in Ireland and the United States in the same period could hardly be more striking. In Ireland the official Protestant Established Church was more or less replaced in the twentieth century by a Roman Catholic quasi-established church in which territorial parishes survived, the church retained a major say in the construction of the state's social policy (especially over ethics and education ) and the church was able to express the cultural and political objectives of the great mass of the population. In such circumstances, religion retained its influence over a broad social constituency and, crucially, was able to offer different levels of religiosity to suit different degrees of commitment. 56 In the United States the relatively early collapse of established churches and the ability of other churches to adapt to the conditions of the marketplace have produced a remarkably pluralistic and flexible religious culture. 57 New pockets of religious enthusiasm, in harmony with the democratic egalitarian values of the new republic, expanded without risk of falling foul of established churches or of being absorbed by them. 58 There were, for example, more African American Methodists in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century than there were Methodists in England. 59 In order to understand a fact like that, historians and sociologists interested in secularisation need also to be aware of different patterns of Christianisation. Understanding how a religious movement formed in England achieved dramatically better results in the United States explains a good deal about the reasons for the different patterns of religious growth and decline in the two countries. In England the Established Church, despite its traditions and its apparently unassailable position in the middle of the eighteenth century, was able neither to survive as an establishment on anything like the same terms as the Irish Roman Catholic Church, nor to adapt successfully to the religion of the marketplace. What it did achieve was to lay the foundations, both positively and negatively, for a remarkable explosion of religious pluralism which transformed the old denominational order and contributed to the expansion of English forms of Christianity to many parts of the world. Anglicanism, as a result both of its own energy and of the dissenting competition it provoked, helped Christianise populations far from its own English heartlands, but could not stem the tide of religious voluntarism, nor ultimately of secularisation, in England itself.

My aim has been to approach the theme of the decline of Christendom in western Europe by investigating the themes of the social significance of established religion, the rise of religious pluralism, and the growth of secularisation in England from the early eighteenth to the early twentieth century. It has been suggested that the rise of religious pluralism was not so much a reaction against the Established Church's shortcomings (though clearly it was partly that) so much as a product of conditions created by the Church itself, including the mass dissemination of basic Christian knowledge, the maintenance of a de facto religious toleration and the proclamation of a supernaturalist view of the world, albeit overlain with semi-Pelagian theological ideas. Evangelical Dissenters benefited from all three conditions and were consequently well placed to take advantage of changing demographic, economic and political patterns at the end of the eighteenth century without which its spectacular growth would simply not have taken place. The rise of religious pluralism, propelled mostly by evangelical enthusiasm, amounted to an English religious revolution and undoubtedly led to an increase in public and private religiosity, however they are to be measured. Short-term gains were more difficult to secure in the longer term, however, as the combination of a weakened establishment and the gathered church inclinations of its competitors undermined the inclusivist principles of a truly national Christian culture. Throughout the nineteenth century the ubiquitous Sunday schools and the astonishing influence of hymns performed the same kind of function as catechising had in an earlier period, but they also failed to arrest the increasing associationalism and diminishing communalism of all the Christian denominations. 60 By the mid-twentieth century the hard slog of disseminating basic Christian knowledge to the whole population, parish-by-parish (however inadequate this had been in the past) and school-by-school, had been considerably eroded. The Established Church had neither the resources nor the inclination to go on doing it, the state emerged as only a lukewarm supporter of such an enterprise, and most religious Nonconformists were more concerned with recruitment to gathered congregations than with spreading Christian knowledge to all and sundry. Given the distinctive patterns of religious belief and practice that existed in early modern England, it may well be that no other pattern would have delivered better results for the English churches than the one described in this chapter, but the different patterns that emerged in Ireland and the United States at least offer scope for intriguing comparisons.


1 Isaiah Berlin, Historical Inevitability (London, 1954). For more refined treatments of this theme see Pieter Geyl, Debates with Historians (The Hague, 1955); E. H. Carr, What Is History? (London, 1961); and G. R. Elton, Return to Essentials: Some Reflections on the Current State of Historical Study (Cambridge, 1991).

2 W. R. Ward (ed.), Parson and Parish in Eighteenth-Century Hampshire: Replies to Bishops' Visitations (Winchester, 1995), xvii.

3 Peter Virgin, The Church in an Age of Negligence: Ecclesiastical Structure and Problems of Church Reform 1700–1840 (Cambridge, 1989), 191–6.

4 For a useful summary of recent scholarship on the eighteenth-century Church of England see John Walsh, Colin Haydon and Stephen Taylor (eds.), The Church of England c. 1689–c. 1833: From Toleration to Tractarianism (Cambridge, 1993). Fora more traditional account see E. G. Rupp, Religion in England 1688–1791 (Oxford, 1986).

5 S. J. C. Taylor, 'Church and state in England in the mid-eighteenth century: the Newcastle years 1742–1762', PhD dissertation, Cambridge University, 1988.

6 Anthony Russell, The Clerical Profession (London, 1980).

7 Martin Ingram, 'From Reformation to toleration: popular religious cultures in England, 1540–1690', in Tim Harris (ed.), Popular Culture in England, c. 1500–1850 (London, 1995), 95–123.

8 M. F. Snape, '“Our Happy Reformation”: Anglicanism and society in a northern parish, 1689–1789', PhD dissertation, University of Birmingham, 1994.

9 W. R. Ward, Parson and Parish in Eighteenth-Century Surrey: Replies to Bishops' Visitations (Guildford, 1994).

10 Ward, Parson and Parish (Hampshire), 334.

11 J. C. D. Clark, English Society, 1688–1832 (Cambridge, 1986); Linda Colley, In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714–60 (Cambridge, 1982).

12 Paul Langford, Public Life and the Propertied Englishman 1689–1798 (Oxford, 1991), 14–24.

13 See T. J. F. Kendrick, 'Sir Robert Walpole, the Old Whigs and the bishops 1733–36', Historical Journal, 11 (1968), 421–45; W. M. Jacob, Lay People and Religion in the Early Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, 1996), 46–51; and Snape, '“Our Happy Reformation” ', chapter 9.

14 The same could perhaps be said of any period from the mid-sixteenth to the late eighteenth century. See, for example, Christopher Marsh, ' Holding Their Peace': Popular Religion in Sixteenth Century England (London, 1997); Bob Bushaway, By Rite: Custom, Ceremony and Community in England 1700–1800 (London, 1982); Ian Green, 'Anglicanism in Stuart and Hanoverian England', in Sheridan Gilley and W. J. Sheils (eds.), A History of Religion in Britain (Oxford, 1994), 168–87; and David Hempton, Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland: From the Glorious Revolution to the Decline of Empire (Cambridge, 1996), 15–18.

15 On the whole, the debate has led to a more optimistic assessment of the Church's performance. See John Walsh, Colin Haydon and Stephen Taylor (eds.), The Church of England c. 1689–1833: From Toleration to Tractarianism (Cambridge, 1993) and Mark Smith, Religion in Industrial Society: Oldham and Saddleworth 1740–1865 (Oxford, 1994). The most important modern critics of the Church are Peter Virgin, W. R. Ward and M. F. Snape.

16 See G. V. Bennett, The Tory Crisis in Church and State 1688–1730 (Oxford, 1975).

17 Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church, vol. I (London, 1966), 7–100.

18 For the complex legal issues raised by JPs see Lambeth Palace Library MSS, Secker Papers, 8 (Methodists), folios4–5. Much of this correspondence has been reproduced in a more accessible form by O. A. Beckerlegg, 'The Lavington correspondence', in Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, 42 (1980), 101–11, 139–49 and 167–80.

19 David Hempton, The Religion of the People: Methodism and Popular Religion c. 1750–1900 (London, 1996), 145–61.

20 D. W. Lovegrove, Established Church, Sectarian People: Itinerancy and the Transformation of English Dissent, 1780–1830 (Cambridge, 1988) and W. R. Ward, Religion and Society in England 1790–1850 (London, 1972).

21 Ian Green, The Christian's ABC: Catechisms and Catechizing in England c. 1530–1740 (Oxford, 1996), 558.

22 J. Maltby, '“By this Book”: parishioners, the Prayer Book and the Established Church', in K. Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church, 1603–42 (London, 1993), 115–37.

23 Green, The Christian's ABC, 563.

24 Ibid., 569.

25 A. C. Outler (ed.), John Wesley (New York, 1974), viii. See also Frederick Dreyer, 'Faith and experience in the thought of John Wesley', American Historical Review, 88(1) (1983), 12–30.

26 For a useful summary of this material see W. M. Jacob, Lay People and Religion in the Early Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, 1996), 101–23. See also, T. Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety 1550–1640 (Cambridge, 1991); D. M. Valenze, 'Prophecy and popular literature in eighteenth-century England', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 29 (1987), 75–92; and S. Pedersen, 'Hannah More meets Simple Simon: tracts, chapbooks, and popular culture in late eighteenth-century England', Journal of British Studies, 25 (1986), 84–113.

27 Snape, '“Our Happy Reformation” ', chapter 2, '“The doctrines of exploded superstition ”: Anglicanism and popular heterodoxy'.

28 T. C. Smout, 'Born again at Cambuslang: new evidence on popular religion and literacy in eighteenth-century Scotland', Past and Present, 97 (1982), 114–27. See also, Arthur Fawcett, The Cambuslang Revival: The Scottish Evangelical Revival of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1971) and Ned Landsman, 'The Evangelists and their hearers: popular interpretations of revivalist preaching in eighteenth-century Scotland', Journal of British Studies, 28 (1989), 120–49.

29 Rab Houston, 'The literacy myth? Illiteracy in Scotland, 1630–1760', Past and Present, 96 (1982), 81–102.

30 G. H. Jenkins, The Foundations of Modern Wales: Wales 1642–1780 (Oxford, 1987), 370–81, and Literature, Religion and Society in Wales 1660–1730 (Cardiff, 1978).

31 Jenkins, The Foundations of Modern Wales, 377.

32 T. Herbert and G. E. Jones (eds.), People and Protest: Wales 1815–1880 (Cardiff, 1988); I. G. Jones, Communities: Essays in the Social History of Victorian Wales (Llandysul, Dyfed, 1987); E. T. Davies, ANew History of Wales: Religion and Society in the Nineteenth Century (Llandybie, Dyfed, 1981); and Hempton, Religion and Political Culture, 49–63.

33 M. R. Watts, The Dissenters, Vol. II: The Expansion of Evangelical Nonconformity 1791–1859 (Oxford, 1995).

34 Ibid., 109–10.

35 E. P. Thompson, 'Anthropology and the discipline of historical context', Midland History, 1(3) (1972), 41–55, and 'Patrician society, plebeian culture', Journal of Social History, 7(4) (1974), 382–405. See also, John Rule, 'Methodism, popular beliefs and village culture in Cornwall, 1800–50', in R. D. Storch (ed.), Popular Culture and Custom in Nineteenth-Century England (London, 1972), 48–70; James Obelkevich, Religion and Rural Society: South Lindsey 1825–1875 (Oxford, 1976); and David Luker, 'Revivalism in theory and practice: the case of Cornish Methodism ', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 37(4) (1986), 603–19.

36 Owen Davies, 'Methodism, the clergy, and the popular belief in witchcraft and magic', History, 82(266) (1997), 252–65.

37 See, for example, John Langton, 'The Industrial Revolution and the regional geography of England', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, new series 9 (1984), 145–67.

38 Watts is impatient both with those historians who relate Methodist expansion too closely to the emergence of social class and with those who see it as an expression of class protest. These include E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London, 1968) and W. R. Ward, Religion and Society in England 1790–1850 (London, 1972). He is also critical of the economic and social assumptions about the appeal of evangelical dissent to a self-improving artisanry in A. D. Gilbert, Religion and Society in Industrial England, 1740–1914 (London, 1976) and Robert Currie, Alan Gilbert and Lee Horsley, Churches and Churchgoers: Patterns of Church Growth in the British Isles since 1700 (Oxford, 1977).

39 See, for example, John Langton and Goran Hoppe, 'Urbanization, social structure and population circulation in pre-industrial times: flows of people through Vadstena (Sweden) in the mid-nineteenth century', in P. J. Corfield and D. Keene (eds.), Work in Towns 850–1850 (Leicester, 1990), 138–63; Michael Anderson, Family Structure in Nineteenth-Century Lancashire (London, 1971). See also, H. McLeod, 'Class, community and religion: the religious geography of nineteenth-century England', in M. Hill (ed.), A Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain 6 (London, 1973), 29–72, and D. M. Thompson, 'The churches and society in nineteenth-century England: a rural perspective', Studies in Church History, 8 (1972), 267–76.

40 Langton and Hoppe, 'Urbanization', 141.

41 See, for example, the creative suggestions of Albion Urdank, Religion and Society in a Cotswold Vale: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire 1760–1865 (Berkeley, CA, 1990).

42 See C. G. Brown, 'The mechanism of religious growth in urban societies: British cities since the eighteenth century', in Hugh McLeod (ed.), Religion in the Age of Great Cities 1830–1930 (London, 1995), 239–62.

43 See J. S. Werner, The Primitive Methodist Connexion: Its Background and Early History (Madison, WI, 1984); D. A. Gowland, Methodist Secessions: The Origins of Free Methodism in Three Lancashire Towns (Manchester, 1979); J. H. S. Kent, The Age of Disunity (London, 1966); and Robert Currie, Methodism Divided (London, 1968).

44 T. W. Laqueur, Religion and Respectability: Sunday Schools and Working-Class Culture, 1780–1850 (London and New Haven, 1976).

45 Bernard Semmel, The Methodist Revolution (London, 1974), 152–66. See also Stuart Piggin, 'Halevy revisited: the origins of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society: an examination of Semmel's thesis', The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 9(1) (1980), 19–20; R. H. Martin, 'Missionary competition between Evangelical Dissenters and Wesleyan Methodists in the early nineteenth century: a footnote to the founding of the Methodist Missionary Society', Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, 42 (1979), 81–6; and R. H. Martin, Evangelicals United: Ecumenical Stirrings in Pre-Victorian Britain, 1795–1830 (London, 1983).

46 G. F. A. Best, 'The religious difficulties of national education in England, 1800–70', Cambridge Historical Journal, 12 (1956), 105–27; D. G. Paz, The Politics of Working-Class Education in Britain 1830–50 (Manchester, 1980); and David Hempton, Methodism and Politics in British Society 1750–1850 (London, 1984), 149–78.

47 Smith, Religion in Industrial Society.

48 For more extensive treatment of this subject see Hempton, Religion and Political Culture, 1–48 and The Religion of the People, 162–78.

49 S. J. Brown, Thomas Chalmers and the Godly Commonwealth (Oxford, 1982).

50 O. J. Brose, Church and Parliament: The Reshaping of the Church of England 1828–1860 (Stanford, 1959).

51 N. Gash, 'The crisis of the Anglican establishment in the early nineteenth century', in his Pillars of Government and Other Essays on State and Society c. 1770–c. 1880 (London, 1986), 16–25. See also Gash, Reaction and Reconstruction in English Politics 1832–1852 (Oxford, 1965).

52 Obelkevich, Religion and Rural Society. The idea that evangelical zeal could stimulate short-term religious excitement at the expense of the durability of long-term religious cultures is vigorously pursued in relation to Presbyterianism in Northern Ireland by Peter Brooke, Ulster Presbyterianism: The Historical Perspective (Dublin, 1987).

53 Frances Knight, The Nineteenth-Century Church and English Society (Cambridge, 1995), 201–2.

54 See, for example, Jeffrey Cox, The English Churches in a Secular Society: Lambeth, 1870–1930 (Oxford, 1982).

55 Robin Gill, 'Secularization and the Census data', in Steve Bruce (ed.), Religion and Modernization: Sociologists and Historians Debate the Secularization Thesis (Oxford, 1992), 90–117, and Gill, The Myth of the Empty Church (London, 1993).

56 J. H. Whyte, Church and State in Modern Ireland 1923–1970 (Dublin, 1971).

57 R. L. Moore, Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture (New York, 1994); N. O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven, 1989); M. A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, 1992); and M. A. Noll (ed.), God and Mammon: Protestants, Money and the Market, 1790–1860 (New York, 2001).

58 Finke and Stark, The Churching of America.

59 W. B. Townsend, H. B. Workman and George Eayrs, ANew History of Methodism, 2vols. (London, 1909), vol. II, 532. For an interpretation of those statistics see David Hempton, 'Methodist growth in Transatlantic perspective, ca 1770–1850', in Nathan Hatch and John Wigger (eds.), Methodism and the Shaping of American

Culture (Nashville, 2001), 41–85, and Sylvia Frey and Betty Wood, Come Shouting to Zion (Chapel Hill, NJ, 1998).

60 See Laqueur, Religion and Respectability; P.B. Cliff, The Rise and Development of the Sunday School Movement in England 1780–1980 (Redhill, Surrey, 1986); and Jim Obelkevich, 'Music and religion in the nineteenth century', in J. Obelkevich, L. Roper and R. Samuel (eds.), Disciplines of Faith (London, 1987), 550–65.

Catholicism in Ireland

Sheridan Gilley

Modern Ireland has appeared distinctive in two ways: first, in the complete identification of Irish nationalism with Irish Catholicism; and second, in the high levels of religious practice in Catholic Ireland until very recently, with over90 per cent of the population attending mass every Sunday. Ireland has been unusual if not unique since the sixteenth century as a country in which the Counter-Reformation largely prevailed in the very teeth of persecution by a Protestant state, so that its Catholic faith was forged in the fire of suffering. Thus it has always been granted that in Ireland, at least from the time of Daniel O'Connell (1775–1847), Catholicism and Irish nationalism have reinforced each other. This relationship was sometimes troubled, and O'Connell himself drew the line against papal interventions in Irish politics by declaring 'Our religion from Rome: our politics from home', while the Irish Catholic nationalist movement was liberal in its sympathies in honouring its Protestant leaders, like the main protagonist of Home Rule for Ireland, Charles Stewart Parnell. 1 Yet by drawing the priesthood into politics in the 1820s as the instruments of the first mass democratic movement in the modern world, the Catholic Association, O'Connell gave the clergy aperilous responsibility as the guardians ofhispacific constitutionalist and democratic nationalism with its overt hostility to violence. Thus most churchmen suspected Irish nationalism in its revolutionary form, and they publicly denounced the main revolutions against British Protestant rule in Ireland in 1798, 1848 and 1867.

For all that hostility, and the occasional unpopular papal intervention in Irish politics on the conservative side, Irish Catholic anticlericalism was the dog that did not bark. Why this was so requires a complicated explanation. A minority of the clergy sanctioned revolution, and even the official Church was usually prepared to give a retrospective blessing or baptism to dead revolutionaries. This occurred most famously after the Easter Rising of 1916, which was at first largely opposed by both the people and their priests, but was, for the most part, the work of devout Catholics and was heavily overlain with Catholic symbolism. Even the Socialist James Connolly attempted to create a reconciliation between Catholicism and revolutionary nationalism, and died with the rites of the Church. By dying like Christian martyrs at the hands of the British army, 99 the revolutionaries of 1916 won in death the legitimacy that they had lacked in life, and dictated the character of the newly independent Ireland, leaving an ambiguous legacy of the creation of a state by violence which is still invoked by the Provisional IRA in Ulster.

So between 1800 and 1916, the adjectives Irish and Catholic thereby became so interchangeable that Irish Catholic devotion could be simply taken for granted, as an unchanging part of the national character, and it was only in the 1970s that Irish historians questioned whether the high levels of modern Irish religious practice have always obtained. The seminal essay by David Miller in 1975 argued that before 1840, in rural parishes in which Irish-speakers were most numerous, especially in the west of Ireland, only 20 to 40 per cent of the population went to mass every Sunday. In rural parishes with fewer Irishspeakers, in the east, the rates of churchgoing were 30 to 60 per cent of the population ; it was only in the towns (and in a rural area of County Wexford) that mass attendance rose to over 70 per cent. 2 Miller's figures have been questioned and revised upward by Professor Patrick Corish, 3 the doyen of Irish church historians, to take account of the sick, the aged and mothers with children under 7 and these children, who were not obliged to attend Sunday mass and who, he calculates, comprised a fifth of the population. 4 Even so, Miller powerfully suggested that the universal mass attendance rates in the modern period in Ireland came after the Famine; that it was the better-off and better educated, in Ireland before 1850, as in Protestant England, who went to church every Sunday, 5 and that it was only after 1850 that regular church -going became characteristic of the great masses of the Irish Catholic poor.

Miller's figures were used even before their formal publication by the most prolific of Irish church historians, Emmet Larkin. Larkin has an unrivalled knowledge of nineteenth-century ecclesiastical archives, and his books have tended to project a view of religious history as a form of epistolary intercourse between bishops. 6 Arguably his best interpretations have appeared in articles, as in his essay on what he called the 'Devotional Revolution' in Ireland for the American Historical Review in 1972. 7 Larkin argued that the Famine was the watershed in Irish religious history, for it bore most severely upon the poorest sections of the population, of landless labourers and cottiers, especially in the west, where church -going was weakest, while sparing the well-to-do farming classes among whom church -going was strong. The Famine also corrected the decline in the ratio of the Catholic clergy to the total population. In the first half of the century, the number of priests went up 35 per cent, but fell in relative terms as the population doubled. At a stroke the Famine improved the ratio of priests to people, and the number of priests and nuns continued to rise through the second half of the nineteenth century while the population continued to fall through continuing emigration. In a manner unusual in nineteenth-century Europe, Ireland after 1850 experienced a more numerous clergy evangelising a declining population.

Both Miller and Larkin cut across the tendency to derive the strength of Catholicism from the native Gaelic tradition, by arguing that formal Tridentine religious practice was strongest among the most urban and Anglicised section of the population. Indeed it could be argued that in their new degree of Sunday observance the Irish became more like the Victorian British, not less so; it is the decline of religious observance in the twentieth century in Britain which made the Irish look distinctive. By the same token, the increasing sexual puritanism of nineteenth-century Ireland, in part the result of a trend to late marriages to preserve farms for a single heir after the Famine, also looks like an approach to the British norm. Larkin argued that the Famine dealt a final blow to the already weakened Gaelic-speaking culture, so that a population traumatised by the Famine was acutely susceptible to the redefinition of their old traditions. The people who died were mostly poor and Gaelic-speaking. The people who survived were comparatively well-to-do and spoke English.

Larkin saw the central figure in this 'revolution' as Paul Cullen, who became archbishop of Armagh in 1849 and was translated in 1852 to Dublin. A cold and reserved figure, 'Paul the Prudent' was Ireland's first cardinal, and his knowledge of Rome and his special office as Apostolic Delegate gave him enormous influence in the Irish Church as well as in the church of the Irish diaspora in North America and Australasia. 8 Cullen had been Rector of the Irish College in Rome, and from his experience of the Roman revolution of 1848, he tended to see Ireland through Italian spectacles. Thus he interpreted the Young Ireland movement responsible for the Irish revolt in 1848 as an anti-Catholic imitation of Mazzini's Young Italy, and he has always borne a bad reputation among Irish nationalists for his crusade against the Fenians who rose against Protestant rule in 1867, and for disciplining priests who were caught up in radical or revolutionary politics. Yet here, in Larkin's theory, he was being recast as a kind of revolutionary himself. 9

In Larkin's argument, Cullen transformed Irish Catholicism by imposing a stricter Roman discipline upon the clergy, and by attacking pastorally neglectful priests and those guilty of drunkenness, avarice and sexual immorality. Cullen also promoted missions and retreats and enriched popular piety by introducing and promoting a new wealth of Roman devotions: 'the rosary, forty hours, perpetual adoration, novenas, blessed altars, Via Crucis, benediction, vespers, devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Conception, jubilees, triduums, pilgrimages, shrines, processions, and retreats', the whole reinforced 'by the use of devotional tools and aids: beads, scapulars, medals, missals, prayer books, catechisms, holy pictures, and Agnus Dei ', 10 and by a body of new vernacular hymns which were mostly written by English converts to Rome from Anglicanism.

Larkin called this a 'Devotional Revolution' and related it to the huge expenditure after 1850 on highly decorated churches, with marble altars, paintings, stained glass and a Roman liturgy rich in image and symbol, exploring the senses through candles and flowers, coloured and embroidered vestments and the entrancing odours of beeswax and incense. The 'Devotional Revolution' meant that religion was increasingly under direct clerical control, and it had its theological counterpart in the Romanisation or Ultramontanisation of the Irish Church through a new emphasis on papal authority, which destroyed a lingering Gallican tradition imparted to Irish Catholicism by its earlier links with France. Irish Gallicanism is like Irish Jansenism, which has sometimes been held responsible for Irish sexual puritanism, a bit of a will o' the wisp, without much proper historical substance, and a matter of preservation more of local than of national tradition as in France. Yet Cullen did get the Maynooth Professor of Theology George Crolly sent to Rome to be reinstructed in Roman ways, 11 while two of the bishops, MacHale of Tuam and Moriarty of Kerry, voted on the inopportunist side against papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council. This was, however, arguably a storm in a theological teacup, or to change the metaphor, at an intellectual level remote from the ordinary Irish Catholic. Much more dramatic and immediate to him was the stronger Roman feel to the actual church building, which was now the holy place, with its rituals, especially attendance at mass, the new heart of religion. In the second half of the nineteenth century, these new churches multiplied and the poor rates of mass attendance were reversed, and the Irish became what they have been until quite recently, the most practising Catholics in the world.

This picture of the consequences of the Famine also makes sense of the rather late and forlorn attempt by a minority of Protestant Evangelical clergy within the Church of Ireland to evangelise the hungry Catholic multitudes, to make them both literate and Protestant allegedly by offering them free soup, which won them the nickname of 'Soupers' among the hostile Catholic population. This 'Second Reformation' 12 had been endorsed by a Protestant archbishop in the 1820s, but its embodiment in the Irish Church Missions to Roman Catholics belongs to the Famine years of the later 1840s, and Cullen seems to have taken a rather grim pleasure in reports that converts were most numerous in the province of his great ecclesiastical rival John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, 'the Lion of the Fold of Judah', as O'Connell had called him, and 'Patriarch of the West'. MacHale was an old-fashioned militant Irish nationalist and differed from Cullen by protecting some of the more revolutionary or Fenian-minded clergy like Father Patrick Lavelle. 13 MacHale's opposition to the state-supported National Schools allegedly left some of his flock illiterate. Cullen saw in the Protestant converts in the west the consequences of MacHale's policies. It would perhaps be truer to see them in the setting of the pre-Tridentine folk-Catholicism of western Ireland, so that the Irish Church Missions can be interpreted as a last valiant attempt by Protestant clergy to become the instruments of modernisation. The general Catholic hostility to the Protestant converts apparently made many of them emigrate, and while the 1861 census showed a fall in the Catholic population, this was also a consequence of emigration, and it was clear that the conversions of the Second Reformation had made no significant difference to the overwhelming preponderance of Catholics over Protestants in Ireland.

Miller had drawn attention to the different, 'premodern' character of much Irish folk religion, and Larkin's picture was if anything reinforced by Sean Connolly's depiction of Catholicism before the Famine. Connolly described a body of religious practices which existed without benefit of clergy outside the chapel, and which was centred on prayers in the home and on the 'pattern' or pilgrimage to a local holy site or well in a still sacred landscape where the faithful would gather for prayers and feasting which sometimes degenerated into drunkenness and faction-fighting with other families or villages, to the scandal of middle-class Catholics and the clergy. Irish weddings and wakes were also often rough affairs, attended by drunkenness and ritualised obscenities. There were popular celebrations to do with the agricultural year, on St Bridget's day, St Patrick's day, May Day and August harvest in which pre-Christian folklore had been loosely Christianised without benefit of the clergy. Miller suggested that this horticultural magic was proved a failure by the Famine and that this failure enhanced the alternative religious culture of the chapel. Connolly made much of the lack of discipline among the priesthood themselves before 1840, as their reform was necessary to achieve a higher level of practice among their people. He described an anticlericalism which peaked in the 1780s and 1790s and still lingered in places in the early 1840s, largely caused by the charges of the clergy for the rites of passage, baptisms, marriages and burials. 14

This thesis has its fascinating aspects. It roots the exceptional fidelity of modern Irish Catholicism not in its distinctive history before 1800 but in a nineteenth-century movement of Ultramontane piety which transformed the Catholic Church in Ireland as in France, where, superficially, at least, it seems to have been comparatively ineffective. It also links the Irish Catholic experience, at least by implication, with a wider religious revival in Victorian Britain and with the movements of nineteenth-century Protestant Evangelical pietism to which it was consciously opposed. On certain points, it has been refined rather than refuted. Professor Corish has suggested that 'the untidy Irish system, with its strong emphasis on the home, proved more durable than the tidy continental system of parish catechesis centred on the church', 15 or as Sean Connolly glosses this with John Bossy's argument 16 that 'in the long run Irish Catholicism wasto benefit from the failure of the church authorities to bring popular religion entirely within the confines of the new structures prescribed at Trent'. 17 In other words, the Irish Church was strong in so far as its native tradition was extra-or pre-Tridentine.

On the other hand, Desmond Keenan has argued that the Church was a good deal more orderly, and the clergy were a good deal more disciplined, than Larkin and Miller had implied; that the nineteenth-century Irish Catholic Church was, in spirit and in its formal organisation, thoroughly Tridentine; and that the great church building boom in Ireland occurred before 1850, so that church building after 1850 was largely an enrichment or improvement or enlargement of already existing churches. Some of the devotional themes described by Larkin were already common before 1850 in the towns in the east and in the chapels belonging to the religious orders. The adoption by the clergy of a distinctive clerical dress goes back to the 1820s and to the reforms of Dr Thomas Doyle, the celebrated bishop of Kildare. Annual clerical retreats also began in the 1820s, 18 while the borrowing of the Anglicised Catholics of the east from English Catholic devotional works also has a long history. 19 This may make the 'Devotional Revolution' more of an 'evolution'. Thus Thomas McGrath wishes to replace Larkin's 'Devotional Revolution' with a 'Tridentine Evolution', beginning in the sixteenth century rather than occurring over a few decades in the nineteenth century. 20 This difference of opinion is of the sort familiar to historians in other areas of study, between one kind of historian who thinks that a phenomenon happened quickly, and another who thinks that it took place over a very long time.

Yet both the 'revolutionists' and the 'evolutionists' point in the same general direction of change, towards a society which was in both its external ritual behaviour and official interior piety more religious and not less. Indeed, far from noting any tendency to secularisation, both David Miller and Joseph Lee make these religious changes part of the modernisation of Irish society. Lee drew particular attention to Cullen's unflagging concern with the plight of the poor, especially through his support for popular education, while even his church building programme had a similar social purpose: his 'emphasis on the physical primacy of the church buildings concentrated the specialised functions hitherto diffused as status symbols among the private homes of the more affluent members of the community, who suffered with ill-concealed chagrin Cullen's insistence on the equality of Catholics before God'. 21 Lee also drew attention to Cullen's modernity in the sense that 'he basically conceded the autonomy of politics from religion' and the separation of the Church from the state. While he strongly disliked the English Whigs and Liberals, his endorsement of the National Association founded in 1864 to disestablish the Protestant Church of Ireland placed him in practical terms in the liberal camp condemned by Pius IX, Pio Nono, in his Syllabus of Errors. 22 Cullen supported Protestant as well as Catholic politicians; a Protestant who looked kindly on the Church was to be preferred to an indifferent or hostile Catholic. Yet he also professionalised the clergy as spiritual specialists by discouraging their involvement in politics. This portrait of the Liberal Cullen should be borne in mind against the awful picture in Desmond Bowen's study of Cullen as the evil genius who Ultramontanised the Irish Catholic Church, and who thereby bears a heavy responsibility for the re-emergence of sectarian war between Protestant and Catholic in nineteenthcentury Ireland. 23 By contrast, to Lee, Cullen was a moderniser despite his anti-Protestantism: Cullen's clergy did not, of course, preach an explicit gospel of modernisation. Nor should he himself be considered a conscious missionary of modernisation. But his determination to assert the primacy of merit over birth, to mobilise the masses, to emphasise the specialisation of roles within the Church and of the role of the Church itself in society contributed to the creation of systematic sustained participation in institutional religion.

This represented a basic change from the 'peasant revolt' syndrome of previous participatory religious movements, sudden but ephemeral outbursts punctuating general apathy. Some of Cullen's achievements would have distressed him had he appreciated them. Despite his own distaste for exhibitionism his church building programme helped foster the consumer consciousness it was partly intended to curb. The 'Sunday suit' or the 'Sunday shawl' became obligatory, for the rags that had sufficed in many of the pre-famine churches seemed out of place in the fine new buildings. In short, the 'Devotional Revolution' was avery modern thing in the conspicuous consumption of the mass-produced religious artifacts through which it found expression. Lee concluded, perhaps with some overemphasis, that 'Cullen transformed the Irish Church from a Latin-American type institution into one of the most efficiently marshalled Churches in Europe.' 24

Thus Miller and Lee both suggested that Catholic Ireland took the path to modernisation, through rather than in spite of the Roman Catholic Church, under circumstances peculiarly favourable to Roman Catholicism. This theme is taken further by John White in a recent essay on the appearance in 1879 of the Virgin Mary with St Joseph, St John the Evangelist and the Lamb of God on the external wall of the chapel in the village of Knock in County Mayo. The event has a particular importance as the principal one of its kind in nineteenth-century Ireland. White argues that the apparition was 'not a rearguard action against the forces of modernity: it was itself a force and a manifestation of modernity'. Drawing on the papers which he discovered in the archive of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, founded by the strangely protofeminist Sister Mary Francis Clare Cusack, 'the Nun of Kenmare', White points out that the supporters of the apparition included the nationalist T. D. Sullivan, the editor of the Nation, and other clergy and laymen who were members of the Land League fighting the Land War for tenant right for Irish farmers, some of them, like Sullivan himself, from prison. The pilgrimage transcended the localism of the normal Irish pilgrimage to attract national and international attention. Those who provided it with publicity and raised money for Sister Mary Francis Clare's projected convent in Knock included the Protestant journalist James Redpath of the New York Tribune and the New York Tammany Hall boss 'Honest John' Kelly. Nor was Knock itself immune to rapid social change. The parish priest of Knock, Archdeacon Cavanagh, who promoted the miracle, had seen to the creation of eleven National Schools which were shifting the language of the population from native Irish into English. The apparition was silent, understandably so, as 'the oldest witness, Bridget Trench, had no English, while the youngest, six year old John Curry, was being educated with no Irish'. In Knock itself, Sister Mary Francis Clare 'opened a kindergarten for infants, national schools for boys and girls, and a school to teach industrial and domestic skills to girls bound for emigration, another fact of modern life in Mayo'. The witnesses to aspects of the apparition were not all uneducated labourers but included a schoolteacher and two subconstables from the recently opened barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The schoolteacher organised a fifty-voice choir and introduced the Children of Mary to accompany processions. Pilgrims came from Dublin on the recently constructed railway, while cars for transport from the station were astutely arranged by a former Fenian whose daughter had experienced a miraculous cure. The idea that the apparition was the product of lantern slides was promptly tested and disproved by Dr Francis Lennon, the professor of science at Maynooth, assisted by twenty of the clergy. The shrine suffered from the departure of Sister Mary Francis Clare, who had fallen out with the local bishop, allegedly absconded with the funds for her convent, and subsequently apostatised altogether. In its modern form the pilgrimage has been revived complete with a brand new airport, a not inappropriate conclusion to its history. 25

The apparition at Knock was compared to Lourdes, but it was also taken as a blessing on the Irish nation, and especially upon its poor; Knock affirmed Catholic Ireland as always faithful where Lourdes condemned the sins of apostate France. This theme was recognised by de Tocqueville: the Irish achieved their human dignity on their knees. Yet as White and James S. Donnelly have pointed out, Knock must be seen in the context of the kind of movement of piety which also produced Lourdes, and the idea of religious revival as a form of modernisation can be overdone. Donnelly demonstrates the survival of a more traditional Irish piety, as pilgrims stripped the cement from the gable wall of the chapel of the apparition, and made large holes in the ground beside it, and carried off the cement and clay and water from the gutters for their miraculous curative properties. The old survived into the new. 26

Yet whether regarded as 'ancient' or 'modern', Knock was, as the scene of miracle, untypical of Irish Catholicism, which went from strength to strength through the ordinary institutions of the parish church and school. The Church's role in confirming the nation's faith may seem less impressive, however, when it is remembered that the Irish population continued to decline. Thus in speaking of Catholic Ireland in the twentieth century, we are referring to a population of under 5 million people, so that a proper standard for comparison might be with other small areas also noted for high rates of religious practice, like Brittany, the Basque country and Navarre. It could be added that Ireland had a safety valve for anyone not liking the Church's discipline, through a swift passage to America or Australasia; that is to say, Ireland exported any non-practising Catholics to the New World. Against this speculation stand the generally high, if somewhat variable, rates of religious practice among Irish emigrants abroad, as some places seem to have been more conducive to continuing religious practice than others. 27 Ihaveargued that expatriate Irish Catholicism in the United States and in the British Empire preserved a sense of immigrant identity and 'was a vehicle of a local sense of community and of a national identity and of an international consciousness'. 28 Again, the Devotional Revolution in the Irish diaspora in the great new cities of North America and Australasia had to find its holy place in a new urban shrine church, having left behind the sacred landscape of rural Ireland. A full picture of Irish religion would require a consideration of the Irish exiles who lived abroad, among whom lapsing from the faith was a great deal more common than in Ireland. 29

The nineteenth-century conception of Ireland as a Catholic nation, a pious people, with a body of politicians who were largely bishops manqu´es, was if anything confirmed by the new state which emerged from the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. In the ensuing Civil War between the Catholic supporters and opponents of the Treaty, the Church excommunicated the opponents of the Treaty for whom the new Ireland, a state within the British Empire, and without the six counties of Ulster, was not independent enough. Again, the Irish anticlerical dog failed to bark. This has been explained by Dermot Keogh in terms of the activities of one section of the clergy who never lost contact with the leading opponent of the Treaty, Eamon de Valera, a curiously clerical kind of layman who brought most of the anti-Treatyites into democratic politics. It was de Valera who welcomed the most extravagantly triumphalist manifestation of the Catholicism of the new Ireland in the Eucharistic Congress of 1932, when street altars were erected in every town and village and a million people gathered in Phoenix Park for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Yet the new Ireland wore its Catholicism with a difference. De Valera wrote the Church into his new Irish Constitution in 1937. Like Pope Pius XI's Lateran Treaties with Mussolini, this began by invoking the Blessed Trinity, but beyond that it hardly approached the integralist model of Italy or, later, Franco's Spain. In an echo of Napoleon's Concordat with the pope in 1801, the Constitution did not speak of the Catholic Church as 'the one true church'. Instead, it guaranteed 'not to endow any religion', and, like the Napoleonic Concordat, merely acknowledged 'the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens '. Even this rather hyperbolic formula of 'the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church' 30 was apparently suggested by the Protestant archbishop of Dublin, George Gregg, who took the phrase straight from the decrees of the Council of Trent, and urged that, on the same principle, the other Irish Churches should also be described in the Constitution in the manner in which they described themselves. Thus the Constitution goes on to recognise 'the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland (the Quakers), as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing in Ireland'. At a time when the Jews were undergoing persecution in Germany, the reference to them has a more than merely historical interest. Indeed the Constitution specifically acted to protect these minorities who all together constituted a mere 7 per cent of the population. Even if only out of a keen political sense of the importance of Irish Protestantism and of the very visible ties with Britain, the Constitution represented an extraordinary concession to pluralism which annoyed the cardinal archbishop of Armagh, Joseph MacRory, but the archbishop of Dublin, Edward Byrne, agreed with de Valera, and MacRory was blocked by Byrne and by the papal legate Paschal Robinson in his attempt to get the matter reversed in Rome. 31 In Catholic Ireland, a traditional pluralism prevailed over integral Catholicism.

De Valera's choice of pluralism over integralism was partly the result of a concern not to outrage the Northern Irish Protestants, who complained that 'Home Rule (for Ireland) meant Rome rule'. The corollary of Irish nationalism wasa neutral state and not a Catholic one. Certain parts of the Constitution do have a Catholic air, as in its ban upon divorce in article 41; but in the 1930s, the Protestant Churches were no more in favour of divorce than the Catholic Church, a consideration which also applies to the clause in the constitution against blasphemy, which still has its counterpart in English law, as a protection for the Church of England. It is only the departure of the Protestant Churches from the basic moral teachings which they used to share with Rome which has made these clauses seem distinctively Catholic. Again, the elements of Catholic social teaching in the Constitution were not directly offensive to Protestants. The real power of the Church was an informal one, and is therefore more difficult to define. There were some Catholic integralists in Ireland inspired by continental developments, especially among the Jesuits, who wanted a formal Roman Catholic confession in the Constitution. The most flamboyant right-wing integralist was General Eoin O'Duffy, leader of the neo-Fascist Blueshirts, who was an admirer and imitator of Mussolini; it is remarkable how completely de Valera managed to confine their influence in a fervently Catholic country. 32

Yet the Church's real power in the state was quite considerable, a point made by the ecclesiastical veto of Dr Noel Browne's bill in 1950–1 for free medical treatment for mothers and children. This informal church authority and its more formal expression in legislation against contraceptives—which have not been banned by law in Protestant countries 33 —have proven too integrally Catholic for many modern Irish Catholics, and the Second Vatican Council was awatershed in the gradual undoing of the seemingly indissoluble bonds between the Irish Church and the Irish nation. One can only speak of secularisation in Ireland as beginning in the 1960s. Many Irish Catholics found liturgical change especially unsettling, with the attendant if ill-defined sense that Catholics had accepted the Protestant case in adopting a vernacular liturgy, and that religion wasin decline, at a time when the churches were still as full as ever. The most obvious area of change was in sexual mores. The first battle was over contraception, and in 1979 the Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey described a measure authorising the sale of contraceptives on prescription at chemists as 'an Irish solution to an Irish problem'. At first, there was a reaction against further change. In 1983, opponents of abortion carried a referendum to enshrine an anti-abortion measure in the Irish Constitution. 34 In 1986, another referendum declared against the legalisation of divorce. It is, however, significant that the orthodox side in both referenda owed more to lay activists than to the clergy, and that in 1985 there were thirty-three separate accounts of moving or smiling or speaking statues of the Virgin Mary. Thus the 1980s saw something of a countermovement, against secularisation, at least in rural areas were the Church was still strong. 35

That reaction has since produced a counter-reaction, so that divorce was legalised in 1995. This in turn reflects a secularisation of attitudes to marriage and the family especially among 'the young, the unemployed, and housewives working part-time', all growing sectors of the population, together with an educated middle class which no longer buys its religion wholesale. 36 Indeed as far as sexual ethics are concerned, the Irish State is probably in official terms more 'liberal' than either Great Britain or North America. Again, the sections of the population in which belief is strongest, especially the farmers who defined the character of de Valera's Ireland, constitute the classes who are most rapidly declining. There are considerable problems about imparting the faith to a nation which, in part because of clerical opposition to contraception, has the highest percentage of young people in Europe and which, in part because of clerical enthusiasm for education, comprises one of the best-educated nations in Europe. Again, the Church's reputation has suffered a number of major scandals, most notably the one involving Bishop Eamonn Casey of Galway, and others concerning a small number of paedophile clergymen. All this has led to an increasing gulf between the Church and the state, and a blurring of the identities of Irish and Catholic. The change has had some benefits, in giving the Church a new freedom in matters like the 'option for the poor' to challenge the government in Dublin; with its long history of emigration and famine and powerful missionary movement, Ireland is much more conscious than most of Europe of the Third World. The identification of nationalism with Catholicism remains strongest where denominational divisions are still most painful, in Ulster; and for as long as Ulster is still a thorn in Ireland's side, there will be no final healing of the wounds of a thousand years of Irish Catholicism.


1 The revelation of Parnell's adultery with Mrs Kitty O'Shea divided Irish Catholic nationalists in 1890–1, and the Church's condemnation of him was unpopular with his remaining supporters. Yet this did little to discredit the Church's authority. In fact, the initial agents of his condemnation were not the Catholics, but their allies the English Liberal Nonconformists, who shamed the Church into denouncing his adultery.

2 David Miller, 'Irish Catholicism and the Great Famine', Journal of Social History, 9(Fall, 1975), 81–98. See also the discussion in Sean Connolly, Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Dundalk, 1985), 48ff.

3 Fr Corish is also the editor of A History of Irish Catholicism, 8 vols. (Dublin, 1967–72), and the author of the massive Maynooth College 1795–1995 (Dublin, 1995).

4 Patrick Corish, The Irish Catholic Experience: A Historical Survey (Dublin, 1986), 167 See also on Corish notes 9, 15, 19 and 22 below.

5 'The wealthiest and most numerous [Catholic] parishes were created in the southeast, in Leinster and east Munster, where in 1800 virtually all the parishes valued at over £150 were located'; L. J. Proudfoot, 'Regionalism and localism: religious change and social protest, c.1700 to c.1900', in B. J. Graham and L. J. Proudfoot, An Historical Geography of Ireland (London, 1993), 206.

6 Emmet Larkin, The Roman Catholic Church and the Creation of the Modern Irish State, 1878–1886 (Philadelphia, 1975); The Roman Catholic Church and the Plan of Campaign in Ireland 1886–1888 (Cork, 1978); The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the Fall of Parnell 1888–1891 (Liverpool, 1979); The Making of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland 1850–1860 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1980); The Consolidation of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland 1860–1870 (Dublin, 1987). See my review article, 'Religion in modern Ireland', The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 47 (January 1992), 110–15.

7 Emmet Larkin, 'The Devotional Revolution in Ireland, 1850–75', The American Historical Review, 77(3) (1972), 625–52.

8 E. R. Norman, The Catholic Church and Ireland in the Age of Rebellion 1859–1873 (London, 1965).

9 For a different version of the same point, see Patrick J. Corish, 'The radical face of Paul Cardinal Cullen', in P. J. Corish (ed.), Radicals, Rebels and Establishments, Historical Studies 15 (Belfast, 1985), 171–84.

10 Larkin, 'Devotional Revolution', 645.

11 See Ambrose Macaulay, Dr Russell of Maynooth (London, 1983), esp. 136–42.

12 Desmond Bowen, The Protestant Crusade in Ireland 1800–1870 (Dublin, 1978).

13 Gerard Moran, A Radical Priest in Mayo: Fr Patrick Lavelle: The Rise and Fall of an Irish Nationalist 1825–86 (Dublin, 1994).

14 S. J. Connolly, Priests and People in Pre-Famine Ireland 1780–1845 (Dublin, 1982).

15 Patrick J. Corish, The Catholic Community in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Dublin, 1981), 42.

16 John Bossy, 'The Counter-Reformation and the people of Catholic Ireland, 1596–1641', in T. D. Williams (ed.), Historical Studies, 8 (Dublin, 1971), 169.

17 S. J. Connolly, 'Religion and history', Irish Economic and Social History, 10 (1983), 80

18 Desmond J. Keenan, The Catholic Church in Nineteenth-Century Ireland: A Sociological Study (Dublin, 1983).

19 Fr Patrick Corish distinguishes between 'what had been a minority culture: the Catholic religious culture of the middle class and the towns' beginning in the seventeenth century, the culture of those who could read and speak English, on the one hand; and the religion of those who were either illiterate and/or spoke Irish on the other. The National Schools which taught English and literacy and Cullen's reorganisation of the Church extended the formerly minority middle-class culture to everyone. Thus Fr Corish says of the Devotional Revolution, 'Some would tell you it took place about 1625. In a place like Bangor Erris in County Mayo it probably took place about 1850 or 1860 when the first English-speaking missions were conducted there.' 'Maynooth Monsignor', History Ireland, 4(2) (1996), 19.

20 Thomas G. McGrath, 'The Tridentine evolution of modern Irish Catholicism: a re-examination of the “Devotional Revolution” thesis', in Reamonn O'Muiri, Irish Church History Today (Monaghan, c. 1991, but no date given), 84–99.

21 Joseph Lee, The Modernisation of Irish Society 1848–1918 (Dublin, 1973), 45.

22 This is true even though the Vatican supported Cullen's policy of disestablishment of the Protestant Church of Ireland: see Patrick J. Corish, 'Cardinal Cullen and the National Association of Ireland', in Reactions to Irish Nationalism, With an Introduction by Alan O'Day (London, 1987), 117–66.

23 Desmond Bowen, Paul Cardinal Cullen and the Shaping of Modern Irish Catholicism (Dublin, 1983).

24 Lee, The Modernisation of Irish Society, 48, 44.

25 John White, 'The Cusack Papers: new evidence on the Knock apparition', History Ireland, 4(4)(1996),39–43.There has been a subsequent controversy between White and Professor Eugene Hynes over the originality of White's findings in History Ireland, 5(1) (1997), 11–13.

26 James S. Donnelly, 'The Marian Shrine of Knock: the first decade', Eire-Ireland (1993), 55–99.

27 See, for example, on the various approaches to this subject, the articles on expatriate Irish Catholicism in North America by Owen Dudley Edwards and Hugh McLeod, and by Rory Sweetman on New Zealand, in W. J. Sheils and Diana Wood (eds.), The Churches, Ireland and the Irish (Oxford, 1989).

28 Sheridan Gilley, 'The Roman Catholic Church and the nineteenth-century Irish diaspora', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 35(2) (1984), 188–207.

29 For this very large subject, of expatriate Irish Catholicism, see Patrick O'Sullivan (ed.), Religion and Identity, vol. Vin The Irish World Wide (London and New York, 1996).

30 Sidney Z. Ehler and John B. Morrall, Church and State through the Centuries (London, 1954), 599.

31 Dermot Keogh, The Vatican, the Bishops and Irish Politics 1919–39 (Cambridge, 1986).

32 Dermot Keogh and Finín O'Driscoll, 'Ireland', in Tom Buchanan and Martin Conway (eds.), Political Catholicism in Europe, 1918–1965 (Oxford, 1996), 275–300.

33 Which is not to say that the Protestant Churches have always liked contraception. Thus the Lambeth Conference of 1920 'on the whole condemned the use of contraceptives ' and then reversed its position in 1930, cautiously approving them, while indicating that 'The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse …in a life of discipline and self control.' The greatest of modern Anglican theologians, Charles Gore, 'was quite overcome with grief' at this change of view, and campaigned against it. G. L. Prestige, The Life of Charles Gore, aGreat Englishman (London, 1935), 515. During the Second World War, the Bishops' War Committee opposed a measure for the supply and explanation of prophylactics for servicemen as 'entirely repulsive' and as 'in conflict with the State as the guardian of public morality, and also in conflict with the right interests of parents, of friends, of many women's organisations, and of many of the men who are the subjects of instruction. In this conflict, the interests of true morality must prevail.' Bishops' War Committee, MS 2488. f. 12v, Lambeth Palace. I owe this reference to Giles Watson.

34 For a sensitive discussion of this whole issue, see J. J. Lee, Ireland 1912–1985: Politics and Society (Cambridge, 1989), 650ff. For a crass one, see Tom Inglis, Moral Monopoly: The Catholic Church in Modern Irish Society (Dublin, 1987).

35 K. Theodore Hoppen, Ireland since 1800: Conflict and Conformity (London, 1989), 244–8.

36 Gerard Francis Rutan, 'The parting of the way: the changing relationship between religion and nationalism in contemporary Ireland', The European Legacy, 1(2) (1996), 745

Long-term religious developments in the Netherlands,
c. 1750–2000

Peter van Rooden

At first sight the Netherlands could appear to offer a prime example of the inexorable decline of Christendom, defined as a tight conglomerate of civilisation, territory and ideology. As a political entity, the Dutch Republic arose in the wake of the Reformation. It duplicated the Reformation's shattering of the unity of western Christendom within its own polity. The Dutch Republic was notorious for the licence it accorded dissident religious groups. In 1599, Antoine L'Empereur, an archetypal Calvinist merchant who had been living in exile in various German cities since Parma's conquest of Antwerp, moved to Utrecht, in the heart of the Dutch Republic. He did not like what he saw. 'Je voy par deca peu de discipline par la libert´e trop grande, de maniere que rien ne nous advient que par un juste jugement de Dieu.' 1 His judgement was echoed by visitors and Reformed ministers throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

A linear interpretation of Dutch religious history seems to present itself with considerable force. In the light of its origin as a mercantile, Protestant republic, born from a revolt against absolutism, its recent toleration of drugs, pornography, abortion and euthanasia as well as its staggering dechristianisation (more than half of the Dutch now declare themselves to belong to no church at all) causes no surprise. 2

The main argument of this chapter will rest upon a rejection of such a linear interpretation of the Dutch religious past. As I have argued elsewhere, it is not fruitful to interpret the long-term development of Dutch religion as a gradual process during which an overarching social and political embodiment of Christianity was replaced by a situation in which the existence of Christian groups depends upon the efforts and commitment of their members. 3 Instead, various kinds of Christendom have succeeded each other: the political and social practices by which Dutch Christianity as a social phenomenon was created and sustained have changed drastically and fairly abruptly over time.

The public church

The Dutch Republic was the unforeseen and unintended result of a partially successful revolt against the centralising policies of the Brussels government 113 of the Habsburg Netherlands. 4 Political and military vicissitudes had resulted, by 1580, in the emergence of a new and independent political entity in the north. The Dutch Republic introduced the Reformation. The Reformed Church, which had organised itself in the 1550s, and had led an underground existence, became the new public church.

The Dutch Republic's origin in a revolt against centralising, absolutist policies resulted in a devolution of effective power to local elites: the oligarchies of the towns in the heavily urbanised western part; noble or otherwise powerful rural families elsewhere. A second important motive of the revolt had been opposition to the Inquisition and religious persecution. The political elites of the new Republic shared the conviction that no one should be persecuted for his or her religious convictions. Local elites did differ, however, in their toleration of attempts at religious organisation by dissenters. The Reformed Church considered its new role as public church to be its proper status. Yet the Reformed also aspired to be a community of true believers and did not wish to become co-extensive with society. Both civil and spiritual authorities thus refused to gather all subjects of the Republic into a single national church.

This led to a situation which differed from religious settlements elsewhere. The public church of the Dutch Republic had a monopoly on public expressions and manifestations of religion. It was supported by the state, and was financed from public funds. Public office could only be held by those who were not members of another religious group. On the other hand, there were no laws forcing people to attend the services of the public church or even to take part in its rituals. Marriages could legitimately be contracted before the civil magistrate. Baptism was not obligatory, although it seems to have been generally sought. With some misgivings, the church generally baptised all children offered. It accepted as full members only those who were willing to make a public confession of faith and to submit to its discipline.

In the provinces of Holland and Utrecht and in part of Friesland, from a very early date, the authorities allowed the rebuilding of a certain kind of Catholic organisation. It was here, too, that the Mennonites, the peaceful successors to the violent Anabaptists of the 1530s, found most of their adherents, and that the Reformed Church, in various conflicts concerning its confession and public status, formulated its identity most clearly. This is the region people think of when they talk about the tolerant Dutch Republic.

From the very beginning, the civil authorities in this area took an interest in the religious organisations of the Protestant Dissenters and the Catholics. 5 By the last quarter of the seventeenth century, a more or less stable religious structure had sprung into being, the result of a religious policy which was aimed at stabilising the relations between different religious groups. The implementation of these policies was always in the hands of local authorities, but the measures taken show marked similarities. First, local authorities took care to strengthen the position of the laity. In all religious groups in the Republic, among Jews and Lutherans, as among Mennonites and Reformed, the clergy was not involved in the financial administration nor was it allowed to decide on the allocation of money. Second, local authorities always had to approve the appointments of new clergymen of all churches. Third, local authorities oversaw the internal affairs of each religious group and upheld the authority of its lay leadership, although only for as long as the requirements it imposed on its adherents remained within the bounds of a common morality.

This close involvement of the public authorities with the social manifestations of religion implied a certain recognition of all churches as legitimate parts of the social and religious order. It is, in fact, very difficult to distinguish between recognition of a church and the involvement of public authority in its internal affairs. Public authority was most deeply involved in the running of the public, Reformed Church, and the growing recognition of Catholicism as a legitimate part of the religious landscape, for instance, can be monitored by the number of measures taken by public authority to influence its internal working.

Gradually, a hierarchical ordering of the different religious groups emerged. Along with the growth of a religious order of which all churches were considered legitimate parts, Protestant Dissenters and Catholics seemed to have been excluded from a growing number of social and political positions. Religious toleration entailed social discrimination. In the 1620s, a Catholic stonemason working for the city would occasionally be harassed by the authorities while attending a Catholic service. In the eighteenth century, Catholic services were no longer disturbed, but Catholics were passed over for public positions. 6

This religious policy was an important part of the responsibilities of the civil authorities, part of their upholding of civil order. This civil order, even it was not based on the stark authoritarianism of a centralised, absolutist state, was still clearly hierarchical in nature. The political and social practices of the Dutch Republic localised religion in a visible, hierarchical social order. The public church recognised these practices as Christian, basing itself on an essentially Augustinian view on the relation between political power and religion. In this sense, the Dutch Republic too was a confessional state. On the other hand, the order of the Republic could also be represented as an example of enlightened toleration, because it accepted the presence of Dissenters.

Dissenters and Catholics sometimes resisted their incorporation in this social hierarchy by probing the limits to which they were subjected. Such endeavours lessened in the eighteenth century, as the religious order became ever more stabilised. All religious groups started to take part in the annual public days of prayer, which became in a certain way the main ritual of a civil religion. Some Catholics, especially those in the south of the Republic, with its almost homogeneous Catholic population, pointedly refused to take part in the days of prayer. Catholics in Holland and Utrecht seem to have had no problem with being involved with this religio-political civil ritual.

The Protestant nation

The invasion of French armies in 1795 made possible the fulfilment of an indigenous revolution, which had been aborted some years earlier. 7 The revolution brought an end to the political fragmentation which had characterised the Dutch ancien r´egime. Since then, the Netherlands have been a centralised state with a strong bureaucratic government. The revolution also destroyed the old religious and social order. One of the first important acts of the revolutionary government was to separate church and state. The new nation-state would know only citizens, not various corporate religious groups. It would be a moral community, based on equality before the law rather than on a hierarchical order. The new Kingdom of the Netherlands, established in 1815 after the final defeat of Napoleon, incorporated the former Austrian Netherlands, present-day Belgium. It inherited both the ideal of the nation and the effective central bureaucracy of its revolutionary predecessors, and continued their centralising policies. Both the former public church and Old Dissent (a term which is not used in Dutch church history but which I find useful, for reasons which will become apparent, to characterise the Mennonites, Arminians and Lutherans) received effective organisational structures from the central authorities. Henceforth, they would be dependent not on local elites, but on the central government, as mediated by strong ecclesiastical organisations, staffed by members of the clergy. The ideological differences between the Protestants were reduced. In fact, the former public church together with Old Dissent became an informal national establishment, with the task of furthering the identity of the Dutch nation by teaching and civilising the common people.

In effect, the cultural, social and political practices of the new nation-state located religion in the inner selves of the citizens of the nation. As had been the case with the location of religion during the Republic, theologians justified these practices, now with an appeal to the supposedly individual nature of Protestantism. All Protestant churches considered the Netherlands a moral community of individuals, and saw their own churches as means to further the welfare of this nation by morally informing its citizens.

It is also clear that the various practices entailed by the new location of religion did not, in fact, succeed in creating a homogeneous nation. On the contrary, the new practices, too, resulted in exclusions and led to resistances. The assimilation of Catholics proved to be the most formidable problem. From 1795 on, the nation of moral citizens was very much considered to be Protestant. 8 Attempts by the central government of the post-1815 Netherlands to make the Roman Catholic Church of the former Austrian Netherlands into an institution devoted to nation-building, along the lines of its reorganisation of the former public church of the Dutch Republic, led to the revolt of Belgium in 1830. 9 After the formal separation of Belgium from the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the late 1830s, it became much easier to identify the remaining northern Netherlands with a general Protestantism. Various anti-Catholic organisations sprang up in the 1840s. 10

Among the Protestants themselves, the new location of religion led to a very strong process of cultural class-formation. The emphasis the new practices put upon education and understanding, style and manners, created a huge distance between the civilised elite and the rude, uncivilised people. When reading through the outcrop of new manuals for the ministry which emerged in the years around 1800, one is struck how all these manuals take for granted the existence of an enormous cultural difference between the minister and his parishioners. He has to transform them in order to elevate them to his own moral and cultural level. The minister is a parent, while his parishioners are children. 11

This news tress up on civilisation and education as markers of social difference led to forms of resistance which focused upon knowledge. Small groups of lower-class people left the former public church in a steady trickle to set up churches that presented themselves as orthodox Calvinist, as preservers of a knowledge that had been forgotten by their social superiors. I will call them New Dissent. Till 1848 they were persecuted and harassed by the government. Even so, between 1834 and 1889 they grew to 4.2 per cent of the population. 12

The pillarised society

The unity of this Protestant nation was shattered in the period between 1870 and 1920 Orthodox Protestants, Catholics and Socialists created their own organisational worlds. What came into being was the pillarisation of Dutch society. 13 The particular nature of this system did not consist in the emergence of more or less closed organisational worlds. After all, in these years Catholic and Socialist ghettos emerged in other countries as well. The originality of Dutch pillarisation is to be found in the way in which these mobilisations were successful in contesting the Protestant nature of the nation and actually eclipsed the notion of the nation as the supreme moral community. Ideologically, the ghettos took over the nation. They did so in a literal sense as well. The 'pacification' of 1917 which ended the political struggles between liberals and confessional parties was in reality a clear-cut confessional victory. The pacification rested upon the introduction of universal suffrage and the equal financing by the state of public and private (Catholic and orthodox Protestant) primary schools. The introduction of universal suffrage introduced a period of more than half a century in which Christian political parties polled more than half of the vote. The financial subsidies given to Christian private schools (which were soon attended by more than half of Dutch children) were followed by similar subsidies for social and cultural Christian organisations. Over time, the subsidies became ever more generous. The greatest victory of the pillarised system was the way in which the Dutch broadcasting system was set up. In the case of radio, as well as later with television, a public broadcasting organisation was lacking. Radio and television time was divided between various private organisations, subsidised by the state, although they were closely linked to religio-political movements.

In social life as well, religious identities became ever more important. Journals bore a marked confessional character. There were relatively strong Christian labour unions. It is from the agricultural sector that the usual example of the absurdities to which this system could lead is taken: the famous co-existence of a Calvinist and a Roman Catholic Goat-Breeders Association. Such organisations actually did exist. Leisure and sports were to a large extent confessionally divided as well. Even today, playing table tennis in Leiden and taking part in the local competition is tantamount to a crash course in religious geography: organisationally, table tennis is limited to those parts of the countryside around Leiden which have been Catholic since the sixteenth century.

So, during the better part of the twentieth century in the Netherlands, religion wasa more important aspect of social identity than class or region. The Dutch nation was no longer thought to be composed of individuals. It consisted of different, yet equal groups, which best served the national interest by preserving their own distinctive character. The various social and political practices of the pillarised society still located religion in inner selves, but these selves were always considered to be members of distinct groups within the nation. What had happened could be interpreted as an ethnicisation of religion. Religious identity always involved membership of a group.

There was always resistance to the movement towards pillarisation. Even those who joined the mobilising drives which made up the dynamic aspect of pillarisation did not follow all injunctions laid upon them by the clerical and political leaders of the movements. 14 Principal opponents were mainly to be found among the liberal and Protestant elite. Theirs was a lost battle. After 1917, even those who desperately wanted to be considered representatives of the common weal were forced to conceive of themselves as a particular group.

Causes and factors of the shifts between the various regimes
The end of the public church

All explanations of the end of the religious order of the Dutch Republic must start with political events, because the demise of the public church was closely linked to the Revolution. In August 1796 extensive discussions took place in the new National Assembly about the separation of church and state. During these debates, it was quickly agreed upon that the official adoption of the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity in 1795, immediately in the wake of the French invasion, had formally opened political and public office to Dissenters and Catholics. Only a few deputies adopted radical enlightened standpoints. They argued that in the past the collusion between clergy and regents had resulted in despotism, tyranny and bigotry. But even these radical voices argued that the separation of church and state would result in a liberation of true piety. The whole of the National Assembly agreed upon the social relevance of religion. There was no religious or confessional opposition to the Revolution. Moreover, it is difficult to claim that the former public church was oppressed during these revolutionary years. For some years, between 1798 and 1801, it looked as if it would lose all financial support of the government. Recent research has shown that it reacted rather vigorously to this threat, and developed all kinds of local initiatives to raise money. 15 In the end it proved unnecessary to implement these plans. Yet they were only part of the new activities the church embarked upon in these years. In 1796 a missionary society was founded. 16 Various liturgical initiatives were undertaken, the most prominent result being the introduction of a new hymn-book in 1806; till then only psalms had been sung during church services. 17 Church law was codified, the lower organisational level of the church showed a new energy, there was a whole new interest in the efficacy of the ministry, and a vibrant religious press emerged, catering to the needs of an interested laity. All in all, and in marked contrast to the existing churchhistorical literature, I would not hesitate to speak of a religious revival.

Most of these new initiatives of the church were linked in one way or another with developments in the second half of the eighteenth century. A new version of the Psalter had been adopted in 1776. A spectatorial press, aimed at moralising and civilising the citizen, had been in existence since the 1740s, and a lively societal movement had emerged in the 1770s. Protestant Dissenters played a role in these movements which was of much greater weight than their small numbers warranted. Most of these eighteenth-century initiatives bore a marked moralistic character and were imbued with religion, yet they had not been clerically inspired or under ecclesiastical control. 18

So how is this link between the enlightened sociability of the late eighteenth century and the religious revival of the early nineteenth century to be understood? The simplest way is to start from the observation that in the eighteenth century religion in its organised form was part of the political and public order. The public church had fiercely combated the Moravians and had suppressed the Dutch versions of the mid-eighteenth-century revivalistic impulses which rocked the Protestant Atlantic world. 19 Its close relation with, and control by, the civil authorities simply left no room for new initiatives. The separation of church and state in the wake of the revolutionary happenings of the 1790s was a liberation not only of religion, but of the church as well, which now could express sentiments and institute changes which rested upon the cultural nationalism which had emerged in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Various reasons can be adduced why this cultural nationalism was accepted by clergy and laity even before the Revolution of 1795. Various shades of pietism had steadily been gaining influence within the public church during the eighteenth century. The pietistic stress on individual faith fitted the attempt on the part of the societal movement to create moral citizens. Pietists depicted the truly converted as the core of the church and of the nation. The eighteenthcentury religious order tended to have a similar effect. The logic of the religious policies of the civil authorities was explained in sermons preached during the annual public days of prayer, organised by civil authority and observed by all religious groups. These sermons upheld what is best called a civil religion, and which found the reason for the welfare of the Republic not in the presence of particular religious groups or confessions, but in its tolerant religious order, which made possible the exercise of individual virtue and piety. 20

A final reason for the general adoption of the new cultural nationalism by the public church has to do with social history. The societal movement was very much an upper-class and upper-middle-class affair. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century the clergy of the Dutch public church adopted the cultural values and manners of this class. A traditional ministry, which in most aspects had resembled the clerical estate of other early modern European societies, with a large clerical proletariat, was at the end of the eighteenth century transformed into a nationally and socially homogeneous profession. 21

It is, in short, the formation, in the last half of the eighteenth century, of a new and homogeneous cultural and social elite, broader than the traditional political class of regents, but still relatively tiny in numbers, which is the central factor that explains the shift in the location of religion. The formation of this new elite took place by means of enlightened sociability and its print culture. Within this cultural movement, Dissenters, both Mennonites and Arminians, could play an extraordinarily important role, because they had, for reasons which need not detain us here, in the course of the eighteenth century become upper-middleclass groups. Some numbers are perhaps in order. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Dutch Republic had about 2 million inhabitants: 55 per cent of them belonged to the public church, 38 per cent were Catholics, 7 per cent were Jews and Protestant Dissenters, mainly Lutherans. There were some 4000 Arminians (a tiny 0.2 per cent) and 30,000 Mennonites (1.5 per cent). It has been estimated that at the end of the Republic, there were about 2000 regenten and some 1500 ministers of the public church. The newly formed cultural elite, the consumers of the new cultural nationalism, consisted of something like 20,000 people.

Shattering the Protestant nation

The Protestant nation of the Dutch liberal elite was destroyed by the emergence of mass politics in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This, as such, is no surprise. Neither is the role the political organisation of Catholics and Socialists played in this development. Peculiar to the Netherlands is, however, the importance of orthodox Protestant political parties. This importance is twofold. In the first place, orthodox Protestants introduced modern party politics into the Netherlands. 22 In the second place, by forming an alliance with the Catholics they prepared the way for a dominance of Christian Democratic parties which made pillarisation possible and which only ended at the end of the twentieth century.

In searching for explanations of this phenomenon its economic preconditions ought to be pointed out first. During most of the nineteenth century the Netherlands possessed a highly developed market economy, yet industrial development was slow. 23 There was no large industrial proletariat, from which the Socialists could recruit. Early Socialism found its first mass basis among rural labourers in Friesland and Groningen, the two most northern provinces. By the time large-scale industry developed, Catholics and orthodox Protestants already had their organisations, including trade unions, in place and they succeeded in retaining the loyalty of large sections of the working class. The textile industry in Catholic Twente, in the east, fostered a strong Catholic union, as did the mining area in Limburg, in the south. The industrial areas along the rivers north and east of Dordrecht would develop into an orthodox Protestant bulwark. 24

Politically, the movement of orthodox Protestants was boosted when in the 1870s a new generation of political leaders stumbled upon the possibility of appealing to the people, not only to those who had the vote, but also to those who did not. Various organisational models were tried out, for instance an alliance against the law on public education which was modelled on the British Anti-Corn Law League, and which proved to be a huge success. In 1879 a political party was organised along the same lines, binding its deputies to a party programme. In the 1880s the political leader of the orthodox Protestants experimented with various political issues to mobilise the people, for instance supporting the Boers in their resistance against the British, political antiSemitism (which he dropped when it did not work), ending the possibility for rich people to buy a replacement for military service, and defending some rights of the new working class. In the elections in 1886, after the first substantial broadening of the electorate since 1848, the orthodox Protestants gained twenty-eight of the hundred seats in Parliament. Together with the Catholics, they could form a government. 25

The obvious question to pose is amongst which social groups this political movement had success. This is rather hard to answer. Its strength lay mainly in the broad and undefined lower middle class of artisans, shopkeepers and tradesmen. But members of the political and cultural elite played an important role within the party, and they also had substantial working-class support. The orthodox Protestant trade union, Patrimonium, was in the 1870s and 1880s during some years a more important mobilising organisation than the political party itself. This wide class appeal is coupled with a marked geographical pattern. Orthodox Protestantism was strong in only some areas: the southern and eastern countryside of Zuid-Holland, Utrecht, the northern parts of Gelderland, the north-western part of Overijssel, the south-western and north-eastern parts of Friesland. These areas do not bear similar economic characteristics, so it is hard to explain the appeal of the Protestant political movement in economic terms. It seems probable that the orthodox Protestant movement was particularly successful in areas where there was already some kind of pre-existing organisational life among the common people, but the same goes for early Socialism. 26

By default then, the best explanation of the appeal and success of the orthodox Protestant movement seems to lie in its mobilising aspect. The specific form it took, of opposing the religious values and the educational drive of the liberal state by a claim to have preserved a traditional truth and a wish for private Christian schools, seems to derive from the values and practices of the Protestant nation, which had made religious knowledge the basis of a cultural class-formation.

The end of pillarisation

The strength of pillarisation appeared most impressively after the ravages of World War II. The Germans had dismantled most of the pillarised organisations, and the Resistance and the queen had hoped for a drastic reorientation of Dutch politics. The Socialist Party, in alliance with leading groups within the former public church and some liberals, tried to reorganise itself as a general party of progress. Yet the confessional parties and organisations reasserted themselves without too much effort and won absolute majorities till the late 1960s. The percentage of Dutch children attending confessional schools reached an alltime high in the 1950s. Then, suddenly, this whole world collapsed. Most of the organisations which made up the orthodox Protestant and Catholic pillars have ceased to stress their distinctive confessional identity or have shed it altogether. The Catholic and Socialist trade unions fused. The same happened with the media.

It is only possible to offer tentative explanations for this sudden shift. It is quite clearly connected with the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Although the mobilising movements of orthodox Protestants and Catholics had been genuinely popular, they were also highly patriarchal and ascetic. They stressed the subordinate place of women and frowned upon sexuality and consumption. The 1960s revolt against strict morals, traditional gender roles and patriarchal forms of authority dissolved the popular endorsement of this regime. Moreover, the very successes of the mobilising movements had firmly integrated their adherents into the state and national life, rendering an oppositional stance less and less plausible. Already by the late 1950s, Catholic intellectuals, both lay and clerical, entertained doubts about the value of the closed character of the Catholic movement. 27 Neo-Calvinist theologians in the late 1960s and 1970s undermined the formulation of a strict Calvinist orthodoxy, which for almost a hundred years had been the ideological justification for the separate existence of their church. 28 The highly articulated structures of both the Catholic and the neo-Calvinist churches assured that the self-doubt felt by their leading intellectuals would spread rapidly among their rank and file.

Further important factors seem to have been the enormous expansion of the welfare state, which considerably lessened the power of the leaders of the pillars over their members, and the emergence of an almost complete moral consensus within the Dutch nation, both leading to a common rejection of organisational and symbolical expressions of the existence of different moral communities.

Popular involvement and missionary strategies

Not very much is known about the involvement of the laity with religious life during the ancien r´egime, or about the missionary strategies undertaken by the various religious groups in the Dutch Republic. The impression one gets is that Dissenters and Catholics were much more aggressive than the public church, using laymen and laywomen and working along lines of family, neighbourhood and work. The public church was more or less content with enjoying its recognised status and its public preaching. When it did start to enjoy considerable popular support, in the course of the seventeenth century, it started to worry about the quality of its members and placed greater emphasis on educational requirements. The main role in stabilising the numerical relations between the various religious groups was played by the government. Poor relief played an especially important role here. 29

The probably rather low levels of attendance during the ancien r´egime were not considered a problem. The public church of the Republic did not feel an urgent need to reach out to the unchurched masses. Most living movements within the church were more concerned with raising standards and setting themselves apart from the merely baptised people, and thus had more to do with keeping people out than with bringing them in. This stress on forming a pure community was in line with the traditions of the church, and was only combated when separatist traditions emerged. The most striking aspect of this absence of a missionary endeavour in the modern sense of the word is a total lack of statistical awareness. The public church did not count its members at any level of its organisation.

The emergence of the modern nation-state changed all this. All Protestant churches became deeply involved with teaching and shaping the citizens of the nation. A general interest in pedagogy emerged, focusing on the need to present messages in such a way that they could be understood. Most of the religious changes taking place in the years around 1800 in matters of preaching, singing and organising catechism can be understood as springing from such a pedagogical awareness. The former public church engaged in a relentless catechetical effort, but also placed a new emphasis on the family as the place where religious instruction ought to take place, as evidenced by a spate of housebooks. In the interest of pedagogy, discussions and polemics within sermons and the catechism were completely wiped out. Lecturing in a simple, civilised way was seen as the best way to inculcate religious belief. Preaching and singing ought to take place in a fairly decorous way. The enormous stress on understanding and knowledge even resulted in a certain domestication of Dutch Catholics and their piety. They gave up those religious activities, like venerating the sacrament or memorial masses, which did not have a pedagogical dimension.

The secessionists of New Dissent were very successful in spreading their message. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century they reached levels of growth of which the British Methodists would not have been ashamed. Family and friends, colleagues and customers were the most important sources of new recruits, with word- of -mouth propaganda by far the most important medium. Their local religious cultures, thoroughly lower class, implied a radical challenge to the national cultural and educational practices of the Dutch state. The members of New Dissent rejected the new evangelical songs, printed books in old-fashioned and hard to read Gothic letters, and loved to use biblical expressions such as those about whoring after strange Gods which the ministers of the public church passed over out of cultural distaste. Whereas the Dutch state treated the common people as minors, in need of education and direction from above, the secessionists created local religious groups, loosely allied to others, with infinite possibilities for conflict and agency. Quarrels and conflicts were endemic within the secessionist churches. Ecclesiastical discipline was, so it seems, mainly exercised against persons who bore ecclesiastical authority. Their continuous internal quarrels ensured that all secessionist churches invested an enormous amount of time and effort into attempts at convincing, in negotiations, talks and visits. It was a system that took the opinions and viewpoints of common people extremely seriously, and thus offered them ample scope for agency. It was also a model of a moral exercise of authority, which was emphatically not predicated upon using existing social or cultural hierarchies to impose religious order. 30 Once they were assimilated to the new mass-political orthodox Protestant movement, however, in 1892, they stopped growing. The new orthodox Protestant pillar would reproduce the knowledge-based hierarchies of the modern state within itself.

From the 1870s onwards, formal organisations and a vibrant press became much more important in reaching people. Organisations and mass media were necessary to create the nationwide communities which contested the unity of the Protestant nation. Yet essentially, from the early 1890s onwards, this movement of organising and educating people took place within religious groups whose borders were strictly drawn. Orthodox Protestants and Catholics were more engaged in informing and disciplining their adherents than in converting other people. The losses they suffered they made good by their higher birth-rates. Consequently, during the whole of the twentieth century, religion was the most important part of people's social identity. This social importance of religion made the Netherlands exceptional in two ways.

The first exceptional characteristic of the Netherlands in the twentieth century was the extraordinarily high level of religious practice and discipline among church members. Only Ireland and Poland offer comparable European instances, yet these were economically and socially much less developed societies that strongly identified religion and nationalism. 31 The second exceptional characteristic was the relatively early and fast increase in people who openly claimed not to belong to any church. They grew from 0.3 per cent in the census of 1879 to 14.3 per cent in 1930. Then their numbers more or less stabilised, reaching 18.3 per cent in 1960. Attempts to explain the emergence of this group economically run into the same kind of problem that the emergence of orthodox Protestantism as a social movement presents. There is a marked geographical differentiation. In some areas even in the 1960s almost the entire population belonged to a church, whereas in other areas already around 1920 more than half of the people had left it. There is no very clear correlation with economic factors, for instance with either heavy industry or rural poverty. There are, on the other hand, very important correlations with the growth of early Socialism and a general 'left-wing' orientation. 32 In certain districts in Friesland at the end of the nineteenth century, the percentage of people claiming not to belong to a church showed marked variations from census to census, declining or growing in line with the political battles between left and right. It is probably best to state that, just as orthodox Protestants and Catholics used religion to mobilise their supporters against the liberal hegemony, the Socialist mobilisation could not escape having religious implications as well, especially among its rank and file, although the leadership of the Socialist Party went out of its way to make clear that it was not an irreligious party.


The Netherlands seem to fit Hugh McLeod's interpretation of European Christianity in his Religion and the People of Western Europe as an extreme case. 33 McLeod stated that as nineteenth-century Christianity lost its overarching character and religion ceased to provide a focus of social unity, the churches both gained and lost. Large numbers were alienated from the official church, yet religion also became a major basis for the distinctive identity of specific communities, classes and factions within a divided society. McLeod considered three periods crucial for this involvement of religion with modern social conflict : the years around 1800, with the impact of the French Revolution, the 1870s and 1880s, with the emergence of modern industrial and mass-political strife, and the 1950s and 1960s, when these conflicts slowly abated and traditional communal loyalities were dissolved.

The religious development of the Netherlands fits this chronology rather nicely. But whereas McLeod characterises the conflicts of the period around 1800 as being about religion itself, and those of the 1870s and 1880s as being the result of social and economic strife, that resulted in conflicts in which the churches could not avoid taking sides, in the Netherlands the first period did not result in religious conflict and the conflicts in the second period seem to have pitted religious groups against a cultural and political elite.

It is probably useless to oppose 'religious' and 'social' conflicts, in which religion gets involved. Religion is not a clearly definable aspect of the social world. 34 The vicissitudes of all religions in the modern world seem to rest upon the relation between two fundamental political shifts which take place in all modernising polities. The first is the emergence of the modern nation-state, with its governmental claim to reach all its citizens directly and its nationalist programme to create a moral community of free, equal and related citizens. The practices of the modern nation-state can lead to clashes with religious establishments, when these are closely allied with a traditional political and social order, but the nationalist programme need not involve a conflict with religion as such. The modern state's creation of the citizen can be religiously legitimated by various kinds of religious nationalism. At the end of the eighteenth century, both in the Netherlands and in the United States, political revolutions were supported by former Protestant state churches, which henceforth located religion in the inner selves of the citizens of the nation.

The second major political event with which religion has to contend is the emergence of the consequence of Tocquevillian democracy, meaning modern mass politics, the involvement of the common people within the political process. In the United States only a generation separated the new social location of religion in the inner self of the citizens of the nation from the emergence of modern mass politics. (This is the reason why de Tocqueville himself did not distinguish between both processes.) In these same years, important sections of American Protestantism started to distinguish sharply between education and conversion. These groups did not consider it necessary to create the moral self of the citizens of the nation by means of education. This close link with a specific representation of democratic citizenship seems to have furnished American Christianity with its peculiar flexibility and freedom of tradition. In America the introduction of modern mass politics led to a new conception of the way in which religion shapes inner selves, stressing conversion in favour of education. In the Netherlands, the cultural class-formation which was the consequence of the religious practices of the new nation-state made a much deeper impression, because almost three generations passed before it was challenged by the emergence of modern mass politics. When it finally emerged, modern mass politics was based upon the formation of separate religious communities which attacked a hegemonic religious nationalism by claiming to possess their own kind of knowledge, and which thus replicated the state's practices within their own communities. Religion was not involved with conflicts of another nature, either social or economic, but supplied the identity upon which to found factional communities.


1 Letter of Anthoine l'Empereur to H. Isselborgh, 8 August 1602, Bibliotheca Thysiana MS 231, University Library Leiden.

2 The most recent report on secularisation in the Netherlands is to be found in J. W. Becker, J. de Hart and J. Mens, Secularisatie en alternatieve zingeving in Nederland (Rijswijk, 1997).

3 Peter van Rooden, Religieuze regimes: over godsdienst en maatschappij in Nederland, 1570–1990 (Amsterdam, 1996); Peter van Rooden, 'Secularization and dechristianization in the Netherlands', in Hartmut Lehmann (ed.), Dechristian isierung und Rechristianisie rung im neuzeitlichen Europa und in Nordamerika: Bilanzund Perspektivender Forschung (Veröf fentlichungendes Max-Planck-Instituts f¨ur Geschichte 130) (Göttingen, 1997), 131–53.

4 The most recent overview of Dutch religious history is C. Augustijn's article 'Niederlande', in the Theologische Realenzy klopaedie, vol. XXIV (Berlin, 1994), 474–502, which offers an extensive bibliography. The most recent overview of the history of the Dutch Republic is Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall (Oxford, 1995). The interpretation of Dutch religious history offered here rests upon Van Rooden, Religieuze regimes.

5 Best worked out by Joke Spaans, Haarlem na de Reformatie: stedelijke cultuur en kerkelijk leven 1577–1620 (The Hague, 1989); Armenzorg in Friesland 1500–1800: publieke zorg en particuliere liefdadigheid in zes Friese steden (Hilversum, 1997).

6 This is a hypothetical combination of two different strands of works: the research into the regulation of the exercise of the Catholic presence (W. P. C. Knuttel, De toestand der Nederlandsche katholieken ten tijde van de Republiek, 2vols. ('s-Gravenhage, 1892–94); P. Polman, Katholiek Nederland in de achttiende eeuw,

3 vols. (Hilversum, 1968)) and studies in the Dutch social structure of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (J. A. F. de Jongste, Onrust aan het Spaarne: Haarlem in de jaren 1747–1751 (The Hague, 1984); Jos Leenders, Benauwde verdraagzaamheid, hachelijk fatsoen: families, standen en kerken te Hoorn in het midden van de negentiende eeuw (The Hague, 1992)).

7 Main description in English to be found in Simon Schama, Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands, 1780–1813 (New York, 1977).

8 Theo Clemens, 'De terugdringing van de rooms-katholieken uit de verlicht protestantse natie', Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 110 (1995), 27–39.

9 J. A. Bornewasser, 'The authority of the Dutch state over the churches, 1795–1853', '“Het credo…geen reden tot twist”. Ter verklaring van een koninklijk falen', and 'Mythical aspects of Dutch anti-Catholicism in the nineteenth century', in J. A. Bornewasser, Kerkelijk verleden in een wereldlijke context (Amsterdam, 1989), 98–112, 113–48, 362–75.

10 A. Vroon, Carel Willem Pape 1788–1872: een Brabants predikant en kerkbestuurder (Tilburg, 1992); J. P. van den Hout, 'P. Hofstede de Groot als ideoloog van de groot protestantse beweging (1840–44)', Document a tie blad voor de Nederlandse Kerkgeschiedenis na 1800, 37 (1992), 1–24.

11 Peter van Rooden, 'Ministerial authority and gender in Dutch Protestantism around 1800', in A. Fletcher (ed.), Gender and the Christian Religion, Studies in Church History 34 (Oxford, 1998), 301–11.

12 W. Bakker (ed.), De Afscheiding van 1834 en haar geschiedenis (Kampen, 1984).

13 Cf. the literature quoted in Van Rooden, Religieuze regimes, 169–99.

14 Paul Luykx, 'Andere katholieken, 1920–1960', Archief voor de Geschiedenis van de Katholieke Kerk in Nederland, 29 (1987), 52–84.

15 W. H. den Ouden, Kerk onder patriotten be wind: kerkelijke financi¨en en de Bataafse Republiek 1795–1801 (Zoetermeer, 1994).

16 J. Boneschansker, Het Nederlands Zendings genoots chap in zijn eerste periode: een studie over opwekking in de Bataafse en Franse tijd (Leeuwarden, 1987); Peter van Rooden, 'Nineteenth-century representations of missionary conversion and the transformation of western Christianity', in Peter van der Veer (ed.), Conversion to Modernities: The Globalization of Christianity (New York, 1996), 65–88.

17 Roel A. Bosch, En nooit meer oude psalmen zingen: zingend geloven in een nieuwe tijd 1760–1810 (Zoetermeer, 1996).

18 Margaret C. Jacob and Wijnand W. Mijnhardt (eds.), The Dutch Republic in the Eighteenth Century: Decline, Enlightenment and Revolution (Ithaca and London, 1992).

19 W. L¨utjeharms, Het philadelphisch-oecumenisch streven der Hernhutters in de Nederlanden in de achttiende eeuw (Zeist, 1935); C. Huisman, Geloof in beweging: Gerardus Kuypers, pastoor en patriot tussen vroomheid en Verlichting (Zoetermeer, 1996); Joke Spaans (ed.), Een golf van beroering: de omstreden religieuze opwekking in Nederland in het midden van de achttiende eeuw (Hilversum, 2001).

20 Van Rooden, Religieuze regimes, 78–120.

21 Ibid., 46–77.

22 Roel Kuiper, 'De weg van het volk. Mobilisering en activering van de antire volutionaire beweging, 1878–1888', in Henk te Velde and Hans Verhage (eds.), De eenheid en de delen: zuilvorming, onderwijs en natievorming in Nederland 1850–1900 (Amsterdam, 1996), 99–120.

23 E. J. Fischer, 'De geschieds chrijving over de 19e-eeuwse industrial is a tie', in W. W. Mijnhardt (ed.), Kantelend geschiedbeeld: Nederlandse historiografie sind 1945 (Utrecht and Antwerp, 1981), 228–55; J. L. van Zanden, 'Dutch economic history of the period 1500–1940: a review of the present state of affairs', Economic and Social History of the Netherlands, 1 (1990), 9–25.

24 Th. van Tijn, 'The party structure of Holland and the Outer Provinces in the nineteenth century', in J. S. Bromley and E. H. Kossmann (eds.), Britain and the Netherlands IV: Metropolis, Dominion and Province (The Hague, 1971), 176–207; Th. van Tijn, 'De wording van de moderne politieke partij-organisaties in Nederland', in G. A. M. Beekelaar et al. (eds.), Vaderlands verleden in veelvoud: 31 opstellen over de Nederlandse geschiedenis na 1500 (The Hague, 1975), 590–601; H. Daalder, 'Consociationalism, centre and periphery in the Netherlands', in P. Thorsvik (ed.), Mobilization, Centre–Periphery Structures and Nation-Building (Oslo and Bergen, 1981), 181–240.

25 G. J. Schutte, 'De ere Gods en de moderne staat. Het antwoord van de Anti Revolutionaire Partij op de secularisatie en democratisering van Nederland: antithese, soevereiniteit in eigen kring en gemene gratie', Radix, 9(2) (1983), 73–104; G. van Roon, 'Politieke conjuncturen en politiek-godsdienstige partijvorming in Nederland', in Th. B. F. M. Brinkel, J. de Bruijn and A. Postma (eds.), Het kabinet-Mackay: opstellen over de eerste christelijke coalitie (1888–1891) (Baarn, 1990), 10–41; Kuiper, 'De weg van het volk'.

26 M. Staverman, Buitenker kelijk heid in Friesland (Assen, 1954).

27 Ed Simons and Lodewijk Winkeler, Het verraad der clercken: intellectuelen en hun rolinde ontwikkelingen van het Nederlands katholicisme na 1945 (Baarn, 1987).

28 G. Dekker, De stille revolutie: de ontwikkeling van de Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland tussen 1950 en 1990 (Kampen, 1992).

29 Spaans, Armenzorg in Friesland.

30 Hans Knippenberg, De religieuze kaart van Nederland: omvang en geografische spreiding van de godsdienstige gezindten vanaf de Reformatie tot heden (Assen and Maastricht, 1992).

31 H. Faber and T. T. ten Have, Ontkerkelijking en buitenker kelijk heid in Nederland tot 1960 (Assen, 1970). J. P. Kruyt and W. Goddijn, 'Verzuiling en ontzuiling als sociologisch proces', in A. N. J. den Hollander et al. (eds.), Drift en Koers: een halve eeuw sociale verandering in Nederland (Assen, 1962), 227–63 contains a wealth of information on the social importance of religion around 1960.

32 J. P. Kruijt, De onkerkelijkheid in Nederland: haar verbreiding en oorzaken. Proeve eener sociografische verklaring (Groningen, 1933).

33 Hugh McLeod, Religion and the People of Western Europe, 1789–1989 (Oxford, 1997).

34 Peter van Rooden, 'Secularization and the trajectory of religion in the West', in Henri Krop, Arie Molendijk and Hent de Vries (eds.), Post-Theism: Reframing the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Leuven, 2000), 169–88.

The potency of 'Christendom' :
the example of the Darmsteadter Wort (1947)

Martin Greschat

Characteristic of the Christian faith since its beginning is the evidently irremovable dialectic between rejection of and the embrace of its environment: dissolving as well as shaping it, on the one hand relativising and undermining religious, cultural and social norms and, on the other, infiltrating, stabilising and pulling them together. 1

In no way does that apply only to the history of Christianity in late antiquity, in the middle ages or in the early modern period. Schleiermacher offers an example of an orientation directed towards modernity, and thus freed from any strict adherence to structures laid down by the state. On the one side he speaks of the character of the Christian faith as being 'polemical through and through'— not only in its stance over against the outside world, but equally 'within its own boundaries and within its innermost community of saints…and indeed at the same time an ongoing polemicising against all current forms of religion is laid down as a task which can never be completely fulfilled'. Conversely, Schleiermacher emphasises the necessity of 'custom' shaped by the 'common spirit', which is thus 'carried and determined by the shared ethos of the members of a society'. The possibilities and dangers concealed within this bipolarity will here be explored not on a theoretical level, but in the light of an important and justly contested text from recent German church history. Our concern then is with the so-called ' Darmst¨adter Wort 'of August 1947.

The political and church context

The year 1947 marks a decisive turning-point in the postwar period. The tension among the super-powers was now clearly emerging and the Cold War beginning. 2 By no means was it about Germany alone, not even primarily, though the Cold War did indeed hit the people there particularly hard. In the US, during the presidency of Truman (since 1945), those circles finally got to the helm who for some time already had been very critical, on the grounds of their Christian conviction, of the Soviet Union. A good example of this development is John Foster Dulles. 3 In Germany, aversion and hostility to communism and towards the 'Russians' was the order of the day—this was certainly unsurprising 130 given the events in the last months of the war and after. Still, the Berlin-born historian Hajo Holborn, who was politically and culturally well connected in the US and in Britain, was astonished on his trip through the occupied Germany in the autumn of 1947: 'I looked in consternation at the intensity of the German hatred of the Russians and tried to explore its roots from different angles. On a purely human level it is the complete “otherness” of the Russians that horrifies every German…Horror stories about the Russians are readily believed by the Germans and passed on.' 4

The leaders of the two big parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), were in agreement as to their stark anti-communism. However, the newly constituted CDU, and in Bavaria the Christian-Social Union, undoubtedly had the stronger appeal for the middle class and, in particular, for the church -going population. Though inter denominational co-operation was never easy, either in 1947 or later, 5 aworking together was always achieved on the basis of common Christian-conservative principles and then, increasingly, shared political-ideological convictions. On the Catholic side this co-operation was almost trouble-free. Things were much more complicated on the Protestant side, where more or less all the moods and convictions of those years were reflected. Obviously, however, the question of the relationship of Christianity and the Protestant Church to the political order became in practice and in principle a central issue.

When one looks at the range of political and ecclesiastical statements made in relation to the problems of 1947, it is difficult to make unambiguous generalisations. Certainly, the anti-communist discourse in large circles of the Church in the US, in Catholicism, in the ecumenical movement and also in Germany is evidence of a far-reaching identification of the Christian faith with norms and values that derive from other traditions and backgrounds. Here, Christian faith, Christian life and Christian ethos have grown together into an indissoluble unity. Without question, one can call this a problematic usage and a dangerous ideologisation of the Christian faith. But there were also very different voices.

Ultimately the question of principle is whether Christian faith is possible, in the sense of being fit for life, without its incarnation, that is its rootedness in cultural, social, political and national peculiarities and traditions, leading inevitably to a variety of forms of Christianity. What matters in this regard is not the discovery of global and general answers. These have anyway to be tested by detailed studies. The importance of the observations made so far lies in the fact that they demonstrate unambiguously the continuous potency of a traditional form of Christendom—contrary to differently directed intentions promoted by theology, the Zeitgeist and politics. One of these counter-forces was the theology of Karl Barth, reflected in the Darmst¨adter Wort of 1947. This aimed at not only the negation, but the destruction of 'Christendom'.

The genesis and objective of the 'Wort'

1. In the 'Opinion of the Fraternal Council [ Bruderrat ] of the Evangelical Church in Germany [EKD] on the political future of our people' 6 the explicit subject was also the relationship between the Church and the political order. In the summer of 1947 Karl Barth had given at various places a paper on 'The Church—the living congregation of the living Lord Jesus Christ'. 7 It was about the reality and the essence of the Church, inclusive of the dangers to its life which forced the Church to seek permanently its renewal through the word of God. On 6 July Barth confronted also the Fraternal Council (the renamed Reichsbruderrat that had originated in the Church Struggle of the 'Third Reich') of the EKD with these considerations. The subsequent discussion of Barth's ideas finally focused on the question of German nationalism. 8 Hans-Joachim Iwand, professor of systematic theology at Göttingen and the chairman of the theological board of the Fraternal Council, identified the danger—that had caused him alarm for some time—'that the Church is used as a refuge for the suppressed nationalism'. 9 Nationalistic and conservative circles from within and without the Church pushed themselves to the foreground and tried to dominate. Iwand expressed his agenda even more pointedly in a letter of early 1948: 'Most important for me was the revocation of the alliance between Christian and conservative.' Iwand judged German conservatism as being without substance and radically discredited by the events of the past. Its only remaining function was that of an impediment and blockage against innovation and life, which Iwand defined as 'socialism' and 'revolution'. Therefore, the 'hyphen between Christian and conservative' was to be rejected. It represented to Iwand the 'law' in distinction to the 'gospel'. In his view, the liberating, innovating power of the gospel came into its own when people recognised that nationalism and conservatism were just repressing and destroying them. In this regard, true Christian faith was in opposition to traditional Christendom. Iwand phrased this insight in the shape of a rhetorical question: 'Are perhaps all our ideas of Christianity, in terms of their sociological side, based on this fragile foundation [i.e. that hyphen]?' If so, it would be even more urgent and necessary to search for and embark on new ways. 10

The gospel could therefore unfold its full and comprehensive effect only when it was put into practice within the sphere of politics. This is why Iwand emphasised in that discussion: 'It is unacceptable that we are having a twobudget business: here we are Christians, and there nationalists!' 11 And this is the reason why he so passionately advocated a clear political position: 'The BK [Confessing Church] has to have a political orientation, we must have a political attitude as Christians, we must say today through the Fraternal Council: We have taken a new path.'

Certainly, Iwand did not wish to identify the gospel with new, better politics. Rather, the true preaching of the gospel would liberate the believer to design new and better political action. But how dangerously easy it was to merge the two approaches is indicated in his demand: 'The Church must be in a position to represent the perverted, bent German character [ Wesen ] in such a way that the true German character [ Wesen ] emerges in the congregation. At stake is the rebirth of the German character [ Wesen ] out of the gospel!' 12 Barth immediately corrected this by referring to his publication The Christian Community and the Civil Community: 13 'Germany should politically find its proper mooring in the Church.' But even here the possibilities open to the Church were totally overestimated—and political realities massively underrated.

The same can be said of the statements made by this circle with regard to the unification of Germany. Iwand declared: 'For the sake of the whole German nation we have to clarify how much of the old structures we have to take down, because the keeping of our German brothers is entrusted to us. The first thing that we as Christians have to think about is not the material question but our brothers. ' 14 Did the gospel not merge here with the political programme? Did not the old national and conservative values and norms continue here to dominate—contrary to all these denials of Christendom and its traditions, even if these were regarded as radically renewed and transformed in the sense of a visionary, concrete utopia, and even if the brothers now had taken the place of the fatherland?

These ideas, in a restrained but nevertheless recognisable way, influenced the text that Iwand presented to the Council on 7 July. Some were prepared to accept his draft declaration immediately; others insisted on simpler and more concrete formulations. 15 There was agreement that the dig at the CDU should be clearly recognisable. The disagreement related to the question whether or not a plea for Marxism was to be included in the text. A practical consensus was reached on the basis of a position Niemöller had held for some time, according to which every human being is our brother in Christ. 16 Finally the Council decided to prepare redrafts of Iwand's text for the next session. Three of these new versions are known. One was written by Karl Barth, another by Martin Niemöller, and the third was presented by the Kirchlich-Theologische Arbeits gemeins chaft f¨ur Deutschland ( Church -Theological Working Group for Germany) that had formed in Bad Boll in October 1946. This group had come together in order to use the heritage of the Church Struggle and, in particular, the Barmen Theological Declaration to benefit the present life of the Church. Phrases and ideas from all the drafts are to be found in the final version of the Wort, without, however, modifying the general line of Iwand's text.

On 8 August, after having discussed the document in great detail, the Fraternal Council released the Darmst¨adter Wort. 17 Present at the session, however, were only twelve persons out of the forty-three invited, nine members of the Council and three advisers. From the start therefore one could not possibly talk of a general approval of the Declaration, even within their own ranks.

2. The seven sections of the Wort show a clear theological profile. The point of departure (section 1) is the preaching of 'the reconciliation of the world with God in Christ', hence the gospel. 18 The unfolding of the gospel in its full power requires the conversion in a comprehensive sense not only of the individual, but also of the whole nation. This involves a transformation of consciousness, including the understanding of political, historical and social contexts, the relinquishment of old and attachment to new values. The 'law', interpreted in the light of the 'gospel', is the instructor in this regard. It shows on the one hand where the Christians in Germany went astray, and sets out on the other how they should have righteously thought, lived and acted. Subsequently the sixth section deals with the testimony to the reality of forgiveness 'in the power of the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ'. This statement, followed (section 7) by a verbatim quotation of the second precept of the Barmen Theological Declaration, is then positively applied to all political and social areas. In this regard, this final section deepens and clarifies what is meant and to be understood by the new existence the Christian and the congregation are to gain from changing their ways.

The centre of attention and debate was of course the concrete statements in sections 2 to 5 on the four mistakes ( Irrwege )of the Church and the German nation. To be sure, a balanced, and in this regard just, outline of the German history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was not on offer. But neither could one claim that those statements were a pure invention. German Protestantism certainly did not act exclusively as the champion of an arrogant German nationalism. Unfortunately, however, there was also in Protestantism no lack of evidence of the 'dream of a particular German mission', the fascination of thinking along the lines of power and empire and, in all of this, the preparedness to commit oneself to a state characterised by internal strength and the demonstration of military power to the outside world. 19 Relatively modest, in contrast, seems to be the admonition that the German nation and the Protestant Church were to accept their 'calling' by using their gifts in fulfilment of a 'service to the common tasks of the nations'.

A similar case is the discussion of the second 'mistake', conservatism, addressed in section 3. As has been highlighted already, the authors attacked the amalgamation and identification of conservative and Christian, the legitimation of the status quo in the name of God and, vice versa, the branding of the attempts at 'reordering humanity's social life' as apostasy from God or rebellion against him. Again, it is not difficult at all to produce tons of evidence proving the correctness of this statement. What matters, therefore, is the reorientation, the new way of thinking and acting, and this requires a permanently alert Christian engagement for a civilisation that stays or becomes truly human.

Section 4 then varies and deepens the critique of the conservative ties of the Church. Addressed again—and this is the third 'mistake'—is the Church's disastrous contribution to 'political, social, and ideological divisiveness'. In this regard as well, numerous examples could be quoted showing the Church thinking and acting in this very way, nationally and internationally. It was only consistent for those claiming to possess the final truth to look for allies in the battle of 'good and evil, light and darkness, the just and the unjust'. They hardly noticed, however, that by tying the Christian faith to a dying concept of society 'the free offer for all of the grace of God' was restricted to the social group of the conservatives that was melting away.

Section 5, marking the fourth 'mistake', namely the sweeping condemnation of Marxism, sounds like a summary and illustration of what has gone before. It goes without saying that a Protestant Church, characterised by nationalism and conservatism, totally rejected it. Again, the evidence for this would be plenty. However, the authors of the Wort were primarily interested not in revealing the historical failure of the Protestant Church in relation to the 'cause of the poor and disinherited', but rather in making a reality of the urgent demand and promise to engage with 'the life and social existence of the people in the here and now'. This was precisely the thrust of the whole of the Darmst¨adter Wort. But in none of its sections did it respond to the present in such a direct and angry wayasin this partly positive appreciation of Marxist aspirations. Indeed, the highly emotionally charged rejection of Marxism was by no means restricted to Protestant circles. Anticommunism, as indicated earlier, represented for large sections of the German population a pole of negative identification, attracting experience, hearsay, worries and everything they loathed on the political, cultural, social, economic and even religious and ecclesiastical level. The authors of the Wort in fact broke a taboo by claiming that it was not just possible but necessary to learn from this Marxism.

The following sixth section has a theological summary: the congregation is offered forgiveness and reconciliation and can and must live out of these. That includes the rejection of all false remedies, particularly the 'catchword: Christianity and Western culture'.

What follows from all this? The last and seventh section has, as was shown, a quote from precept two of the Barmen Theological Declaration and thereby reconnects with the first section. It had now become clear what the gift and the task of the congregation was. Therefore the Christian could not be dominated by 'despair' or even 'faithless indifference', despite all the want and misery that prevailed in Germany. Unacceptable as well were the 'dreams of a better past' or 'speculations of an imminent war'. Instead, what mattered was to become permanently aware of the gift of reconciliation and the new life flowing from this. And this meant, with a view towards the people and the whole society, that 'all and every single one of us' had to strive 'for the building of a better German state', that was 'at the service of justice, welfare, internal peace and the reconciliation of the nations'.

3. At the time, these proposals were mostly met with reservations, frequently even with indignant and emphatic rejection. This is not surprising, as people felt their national and conservative convictions attacked and, therefore, saw the Wort as 'a fouling of their own nest' or a 'punch in the face' for faithful Protestant Christians. 20 Several comprehensive theological reactions said the same thing in different words. Walther K¨unneth for example used the condescending term Konjunktur theologie (a theology following the ups and downs of economic trends): an attempt to gain for the Church not just attention, but 'recognition in the arena of the forces now in power' by 'a purely political confession of guilt' in relation to 'certain mistakes of the past'. 21 In terms of content K¨unneth criticised the 'unilateral convergence with socialism' and the unjust judgement of German history. Against the first he quoted in a truly sterile way fitting passages of Lutheran doctrine, against the latter he listed, in a way that was both dull and arrogant, numerous corrections. However, he completely ignored the Wort 's purpose, which was to achieve, on the basis of the gospel, a comprehensive new start that went beyond the traditional individualist doctrine of justification. Here, all K¨unneth was able to discern was 'alien motives' and a 'theological gaffe that shows the characteristics of a new Nazi-theology—just the other way round'.

Asmussen argued in a similarly aggressive and brusque vein. 22 He complained that the eschatological dimension was missing, the unambiguous definition of the relationship between faith and works and the clear distinction between law and gospel. His criticism of the historical sections of the Darmst¨adter Wort and, in particular, of its advocacy of Socialism was extreme. Asmussen claimed: the parties of the left, and particularly the SPD, right up to the present day, are to blame for the proclamation of class struggle, namely of envy, mass murder, the demonisation of the opponent, the dissolution of human community. The socialist manifesto is a document of intolerance, a precursor of the teachings of Hitler…The Fraternal Council cannot possibly approve of but only openly condemn the road to the lack of rights, mass murder and enslavement that the socialist ambition has embarked on since 1789…The totalitarian state is a necessary stop on the Marxist road.

Somewhere else, and a few weeks later, Asmussen wrote: 'The Fraternal Council's vote in favour of socialism has evidently burdened the conscience of thousands of church members. Thousands have now been led to think that it requires a particular political attitude in order to be a Christian according to the New Testament.' 23

Apart from such distortions and insinuations it has to be said that many readers had considerable difficulties with the unfamiliar and complex theological language of the Wort. This objection was frequent, even among intellectuals. 24 As people could—or would—not follow, the theological aim of the Declaration did not get across at all. At most, it was acknowledged that another confession of guilt had been made. That is why the debate focused on the two especially offensive charges: on the one hand, the unbalanced and negative portrayal of German history and, on the other, the much too friendly treatment of socialism.

It does not shed a particularly favourable light on the representatives of Protestantism that, in contradistinction to them, a political daily paper understood very well what was at stake. Under the heading of 'Good Tidings', the Stuttgarter Zeitung of 6 September 1947, while also criticising terminological and factual deficiencies, had this to say about the content of the Darmst¨adter Wort: 'These few sentences in their brutal frankness contain a shattering confession ; and they seem also to announce the determination of the Church to embark in the future on completely new avenues.' 25 This led to the subsequent question: 'May we then expect that in her position vis-à-vis politics or better, in her political attitude, the Church from now on will make a fundamental change, a radical reversal? That would be very fortunate for our nation, an event of unique importance.' Of course, the article quite justifiably went on, this would not mean 'that the Protestant Church and her representatives had now the intention of changing officially, as it were, from the political right to the left. But when the Church, in defence of Christian freedom, now terminates officially her affiliation with political reaction, then she is writing in no uncertain terms anew page of her history and drawing a clear line under the past.'

In this regard, the relativisation and dissolution of the amalgamation of nationalism, conservatism and Protestantism, that dominated in the Church even after 1945, had been convincingly proclaimed. The theological rationale for this process can hardly be argued with. However, the massive programme of leaving the old loyalties and traditions behind and risking a new start was expressed with restraint only in the equally sober and correct 'interpretation' of the Darmst¨adter Wort, written by Hermann Diem. 26 Contrariwise, Iain Wilson emphasised resolutely this trend as the fascinating characteristic of the Darmst¨adter Wort. Wilson was an army chaplain, since 1945 the contact person in the British Occupied Zone to the Protestant churches and, since 1948, consultant for Germany in the Department for Reconstruction of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Geneva. From there he wrote on 27 March 1948 to the Fraternal Council: 'I want to tell you that in my view, that Statement, despite those faults in its formulation which I believe you yourselves recognise, was and remains the most significant utterance which has been made by the German Church since the end of the war. I would go further, and say that it is one of the most significant statements which has been made by any Church in recent years.' 27 All churches in the western world, in terms of their institutions and expressions of life, were deeply rooted in their respective national, cultural and social environment, 'they stake their life upon the continued existence of those social patterns into which they have so closely woven themselves, instead of upon the abiding truth of God '. Therefore, what the Fraternal Council had said about the very specific situation of the Church in Germany, meant a calling and a challenge for the Church universal—'because in varying forms the same situation exists elsewhere'. Those responsible in the Fraternal Council, having so far primarily experienced attacks and hostilities, thanked him emotionally. 28

Partly on the same line as Wilson's letter was the reaction of Paul Graf Yorck von Wartenburg, the managing director of the Evangelisches Hilfswerk (Protestant Aid) in the French Occupied Zone. 29 Yorck called it a 'truly great and serious undertaking' that the Fraternal Council tried 'disentangling the Church from the secular structures and values and liberating her for her calling, to announce the good news to the poor'. However, the Declaration would not really encourage this important and proper intention for it remained too much attached to 'the securities of a bourgeois, state-oriented existence'. Apart from critiquing the unjust verdict on Prussia and Bismarck, Yorck objected in particular to the vague and woolly concept of socialism the Darmst¨adter Wort operated with. He detected very clearly that in reality 'the mere fiction of a new social order' was being presented there. But was it not imperative to X-ray this as well in the light of the gospel—because it was the job of the Church 'to depose the false gods'? Yorck did not take this idea to its conclusion but complained bitterly about the naivety and dishonesty with which Diem and his friends glossed over the realities in the east.

4. With all this the die was cast. Certainly one can and has to reproach the authors of the Darmst¨adter Wort for the fact that their inclusive 'we' lumped together in a rather questionable way the members of the Fraternal Council, the Protestant Christians and the German nation. Here, unmistakably, once again the old, premodern conviction emerges, according to which the cooperation of church and state was useful and beneficial for both sides and, in particular, for the nation. But the Wort itself is free from such attachments to various 'hyphens', that is, from the entanglement with Christendom and its values, norms, forces and traditions: not because their realities were denied, but, on the contrary, because all the sincerity, all the pressure and, most of all, the full liberating potency, which is here witnessed to, lie in the departure, in the call to get out of these entanglements.

The strength and attraction of this new way of speaking and preaching derives from the fact that it is not just words and proclamation, but that it gains vividness through the vision of a different, better form of society and a more ideal and humane co-existence of peoples and nations. Without question, the opponents of the Declaration were right in their observation that the idea of socialism had provided the words and colours for this. They were clearly wrong, however, in their conclusion that by socialism was meant what was happening in the USSR or in the Soviet Occupied Zone.

In order to describe the totally different destination for which the church liberated by the gospel had to set out, Karl Barth and his friends spoke of 'socialism'—as a 'fiction', or, put more nicely: as a vision. The decisive question was then indeed: could this vision in any way be related to the reality of socialism as proclaimed in the East? Or, was that just a fiction? And, if there were in the East points of contact for that vision or concrete utopia—in what ways could they be transcended? And, if this transcending turned out to be impossible, what mattered most: the clinging to a vision of socialism—or correcting it, and perhaps even, in the light of lived and suffered realities, abandoning socialism altogether? Put differently, what actually was the relationship between the search of the Christian faith for concreteness, life and Gestalt, and the undoubtedly necessary destruction of the false norms and values of Christendom?

It turns out then that the actual touchstone for the possibility the Darmst¨adter Wort envisioned, namely the liberation of the Church from all false ties and strangling traditions, therefore from the realities of 'Christendom', is the question of the relationship between that visionary socialism and its concrete incarnation.

The reactions in Germany's East

The communist strategy aimed at enlisting as many sections of the population as possible. Few people could or would openly oppose the efforts being made for the alleviation of the terrible need, the comprehensive eradication of 'fascism', the realisation of a truly democratic order and the restitution of national unity. However, those who did object, either in principle or because of the methods being used, were soon attacked as 'reactionary' or 'fascist'—and were eliminated, usually not just politically but also physically. This insecurity as to the rule of law and the pressure generated in consequence of this, plus a very common fear, played without question a major role in the postwar Soviet Occupied Zone. On the other hand, the factual influence of the semi-official and official propaganda—by words and deeds—must not be underestimated.

The representatives of the Protestant churches were working hard to prevent their pastors from becoming active in one of the political parties. 30 They committed themselves, courageously and perseveringly, to the political victims. 31 They also defended themselves against the spying on their sermons and their other activities. 32 But public objections to the political conditions in these years came almost exclusively from the East–CDU. Against this background, a session of the Fraternal Council of the EKD was held on 15 and 16 October 1947 in Detmold, with a view to establishing the assessment of the Darmst¨adter Wort by the members coming from the Soviet Occupied Zone. 33 The interpretation of German history met with particularly massive objections in the East. But more significant was the general more or less bitter and also disappointed diagnosis that the authors of the Darmst¨adter Wort obviously had not the faintest idea about the situation in the East. This did hurt. Why had nobody from the Soviet Occupied Zone been consulted before the publication of the Declaration? Kurt Scharf summarised precisely the various emotional and factual objections and accusations:

This Wort is a kick in the teeth for those who have been deprived of their rights. After this Wort, it seems, we have to state that the Protestant Church in the German West and the German East speaks in totally different languages. We say to ourselves, only those can talk in this way who misjudge absolutely the situation as it exists for us, and who [can] not see or do not wish to see. 34

Hermann Diem objected to this. The current insistence on the Church's role as 'watchman' vis-à-vis the guilt of the victors, in the East in particular, must not lead anyone to forget that the misery of the present was also a consequence of National Socialism. The demonstration of these connections was at the heart of the Darmst¨adter Wort. It also aimed to stop all attempts to escape this reality by referring to abstract, ideological concepts basedinan 'unbiblical' Christianity. 35 These explanations once again formulated precisely the intentions of the authors of the Darmst¨adter Wort. However, they were unable to refute the objection made in the East that the Declaration represented a theological position derived and phrased exclusively from a West German vantage point.

On the basis of this theology it was possible to formulate in a grandiose and convincing way what in the situation of the year 1947 was without question imperative, namely the 'no' to the traditions of German Protestantism. But 'custom', the creative ethos generated by the power of the gospel, was in danger of losing its shape in the process. Or, to be more precise, it degenerated into legalism. Because one's own concept was right, the 'brothers in the East' had to take care not to oppose it. Certainly, there was no idealisation of what had passed in the East for socialism. But the Christians in the Soviet Occupied Zone were expected to agree to the insight, that the greater chances for a true and genuine existence of the Church, liberated from all 'Christendom' ideology, lay there, in the East and not in the West. 36

There is no simple solution to the problem presented here. Part of the Jewish–Christian tradition and of the Reformation's understanding of the gospel is the critical distance to everything that has grown historically, the prophetic calling to overcome this 'Christendom'. But part of this tradition and of this gospel is also the fact that this very impulse has generated, spread and rooted norms, order and values. In this regard 'Christendom' can never be simply the misshapen shell that needs to be broken, dissolved or generally rejected. It goes without saying, at least in Protestantism, that, on the other hand, Christendom must not claim a dignity of its own, separated from the gospel. So, we are confronted by an amalgamation of very diverse traditional ties and cultural blending, and only in theory can they be cleanly differentiated and separated. But this is not what matters most. The essential need is for an approach to the bipolar nature of the Christian faith that is reflected, engages with the situation and, in this way, decides case by case. It is important to take very seriously both sides at the same time: the critique of 'Christendom' and the preservation and the unfolding of the individual and social, political and cultural values that are kept within it.


1 This chapter is translated by Werner Ustorf.

2 Very informative is the overview by W. Loth, Die Teilung der Welt, 7th edition (Munich, 1989). Important is T. G. Paterson and R. J. McMahon, The Origins of the Cold War, 3rd edition (Lexington, MA, 1991).

3 M. G. Toulouse, The Transformation of John Foster Dulles: From Prophet of Realism to Priest of Nationalism (Macon, GA, 1985).

4 E. J. Hahn (ed.), 'Hajo Holborn: Bericht zur deutschen Frage, Beobachtungen und Empfehlungen vom Herbst 1947', Vierteljahreshefte f¨ur Zeitgeschichte, 35 (1987), 135–66.

5 Further discussed by M. Greschat, 'Konfessionelle Spannungen in der ¨Ara Adenauer', in U. v. Hehl (ed.), Adenauer und die Kirchen (Bonn, 1999), 193–216; U. v. Hehl, 'Konfessionelle Irritationen in der fr¨uhen Bundesrepublik', Historisch Politische Mitteilungen, 6 (1999), 167–87.

6 For the text of the ' Wort des Bruderrates der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes' and of the four draft texts, cf. for example M. Greschat, Im Zeichen der Schuld (Neukirchen, 1985), 79–86.

7 Text in K. Barth, Die lebendige Gemeinde und die freie Gnade (Munich, 1947), 3–23.

8 Minutes of the meeting in D. Buchhaas-Birkholz (ed.), 'Zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes': politische Leitbilder und Vorstellungen im deutschen Protestantismus 1945–1952 (D¨usseldorf, 1989), 77–104.

9 Ibid., 91.

10 To pastor Burdach, Cappenberg; undated. Copy taken from Iwand Papers.

11 Buchhaas-Birkholz, 'Zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes', 92.

12 Ibid.; also the following quotation.

13 Karl Barth, Christengemeinde und B¨urgergemeinde (Munich, 1946).

14 Buchhaas-Birkholz, 'Zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes', 99.

15 For the discussion see ibid., 99–103.

16 Ibid., 100ff.

17 Owing to the objections of Bruderrat members in the Soviet Occupied Zone, sections 3 and 5—as Mochalski wrote to Pr¨ases Scharf on 11 August—were reformulated in such a way 'that it was no longer possible to extract from them a statement for or against a Weltanschauung' (Archive of the EKHN 62/3663a, also ibid. 36/6). This statement is unambiguously wrong.

18 Quotation taken from M. Greschat, Zeichen der Schuld, 85ff.

19 Informative in this regard is G. Brakelmann, 'Kirche und Schuld: Das Darmst¨adter Wort von 1947', in Brakelmann, Kirche in Konflikten ihrer Zeit (Munich, 1981), 162–87.

20 Quoted in a letter dated 13 September 1947; Archive of the EKHN 36/72.

21 W. K¨unneth, 'Zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes. Eine theologische Antwort an den Bruderrat der EKiD', Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung 1(2/3) (1947).

22 Hans Asmussen, 'Zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes. Wort und Antwort', Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung 1(1) (1947), 9–11.

23 To the EKD Council, 1 December 1947, 6; EKHN 62/2000b.

24 In this sense, for example, the systematic theologian Prof. Friedrich Delekat complained to Asmussen on 5 September 1947; EKHN 62/3663a.

25 Excerpts in the Archive of the EKHN 62/3663a.

26 Reprinted in Flugbl¨atter zur Versammlung europ¨aischer Christen, Darmstadt, 7–9 October 1977, No. 1, 5–18.

27 EKHN 36/7.

28 E.g. the Kirchenrat from the Rhinelands, Otto Wehr (14 April 1948), Iwand (20 April), the Westphalian pastor and later Pr¨ases Ernst Wilm (26 April), also Diem (9 May). I would like to take the opportunity to thank John Conway, Vancouver, for having drawn my attention to these letters.

29 To Oberkirchenrat Beckmann, 5 May 1948; EKHN 36/72.

30 See J. J. Seidel, 'Neubeginn' in der Kirche? (Göttingen, 1989), 293–301.

31 Ibid., 148–54.

32 Ibid., 353–5.

33 The Minutes have been published by D. Buchhaas-Birkholz, ' Zum politischen Weg unseres Volkes ', 116–32.

34 Minutes, 127.

35 Minutes, 129ff.

36 The commentary, quoted in L. Berthold and E. Diehl (eds.), Vomkommunistischen Manifest zum Programm des Sozialismus (Berlin (East), 1964), 18, says in this regard: 'The brothers in the East have a particular task in relation to the Church in the West. The Church in the East is tested in a more genuine way in her existence as a church than the one in the West where she is free and unchallenged from the outside to continue to play, even today, her role as the guardian of occidental culture.'

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