By Frank Prochaska
An elegantly written examine that charts the connection among Christianity and social provider in Britain because the eighteenth century and provides a tough new interpretation of the hyperlinks among Christian decline and democratic traditions.
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Extra info for Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain: The Disinherited Spirit
Without the Sunday schools and charity schools, millions of children would have grown up without any formal instruction. In addition to raising levels of literacy, the schools had the merit of keeping children out of mischief. In the ﬁrst half of the nineteenth century commentators often noted that the populace was growing more respectable, and they attributed the improved state of the common people to the civilizing effects of schooling. In 1816 one witness observed a ‘great alteration in the moral condition of Spitalﬁelds’ since the establishment of Sunday schools.
Voluntary schools, each reﬂecting local religious leanings, was a British alternative. In deepening the religious hue of British philanthropy, the French Revolution revitalized parish life and put Sabbath schools, along with other schools, on the front line of homeland defence. As the British ruling class saw it, Sunday school instruction would reform the behaviour of the lower orders through inculcating patriotism, piety, and industry. In the heightened political atmosphere, Anglican reformers like Hannah More and Sarah Trimmer saw the education of the poor as part of a strategy for national survival, a means of checking the spread of irreligion among the labouring population.
The relationship between Christianity and state social provision is particularly relevant to both religion and charity. What changes in Christianity made accommodation with the state palatable? For decades Britons have looked primarily to government—to the social services and the National Health Service—to address both social and physical ills. ⁹⁵ What role did 26 Background the churches play in the rise of state provision, and did the erosion of Christian belief encourage the expansion of government?
Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain: The Disinherited Spirit by Frank Prochaska