Victorians and religion

Posted by Tory Historian Tuesday, April 26, 2011 , ,

Tory Historian has maintained for some time that there is a good deal of similarity between present-day Americans and Victorian British though their ideas of international influence are somewhat different in that Americans dislike the idea of an empire.

One thing that does seem to be similar is how widespread religious ideas, as social and political underpinning, are in the United States now and were in Britain in the nineteenth century. This article in History Today says something very similar:
British secularism is a 20th-century innovation, produced by the psychological shocks of war and social change. The Victorians would be bemused by the secularism of muscular liberalism and scandalised by the vague ‘births, deaths and marriages’ Anglicanism of much of the present government. Yet they were capable of a surprising degree of multiculturalism. Albeit with much debate, Unitarianism and Islam were legalised in 1812 and Catholics were given the vote in 1829. Muscular liberalism is a project rooted in false historical consciousness that seeks to drive religion out of the public sphere. In contrast, Victorian society revelled in difference and debate. Its unifying principle was not the absence of belief but its permeation. Given the part that faith has played in shaping the British constitution and state – from the right of Parliament to dismiss a heretical monarch, to the abolition of slavery – it is ahistorical to try to proscribe or eliminate its role today.
Some interesting points in a short article.


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