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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New Bigots
Callum Brown's book is 'about the death of Christian Britain - the demise of the nation's core religious and moral identity'. He argues that 'quite suddenly in 1963 something very profound ruptured the the character of the nation and its people, sending organised Christianity on a downward spiral to the margins of social significance.' His purpose is to discover how the...
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly dragging
I bought this book as its a requirement for my Open Uni course AA307 Religion and History (should be called History of Christianity in Europe).

Im on the first 30-40 pages and it seems to be slightly dragging and boring at times although it is a well researched work. Worth a read for people interested in secularization theory and its application to Britian
Published on 22 May 2012 by Mo


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New Bigots, 8 Aug 2012
By 
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Paperback)
Callum Brown's book is 'about the death of Christian Britain - the demise of the nation's core religious and moral identity'. He argues that 'quite suddenly in 1963 something very profound ruptured the the character of the nation and its people, sending organised Christianity on a downward spiral to the margins of social significance.' His purpose is to discover how the British absorbed Christianity into their lives in the nineteenth and twentieth centuires then stopped doing so from the 1960s. He suggests respectability has been supplanted by respect and moral criticism by toleration and greater freedom to live our lives in the way which we choose. The collapse in the bulk of the Christian churches has not been experienced by immigrant populated churches and the search for spiritual values has found expression in various cults, including New Age groups. Modern British society is one in which residual Christian belief has not been matched by church attendance.

Brown questions the validity of the theory of secularisation as an explanation of religious decline. The argument had been that secularisation 'was the handmaiden of modernisation, pluralisation, urbanisation and Enlightenment rationality'. Brown claims this argument was false because it relied on a social science definition of religion. The social science approach was theoretically neutral and based on empirical studies of formal or institutionalised religion which was 'reductionist to bipolarities'. However, religion itself was not confined to churchgoers and non-churchgoers or believers and non-believers. Social science structuralism has one set of explanation for statistics of religosity whereas individual identification of Christianity provides another.

Historically the Anglican church formed part of the political, social and economic establishment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The industrial revolution and land enclosures were instrumental in breaking the traditional bonds between landlords and their economic dependants. Rural paternalism gave way to urban ignorance, class stratification to class antagonism and religious practice to religious intolerance. Although religious formalism was widespread in Victorian England it was not necessarily matched by religious belief . In establishment circles doubt and dissent flourished, as had always been the case, which provided a welcome for Darwinism and other tales. The double standard did not apply exclusively to sexual activity but found expression in social attitudes towards other forms of behaviour.

From 1963 onwards cultural changes had a major impact on churches in Britain. Part of this was due to the influence of lawmakers adopting policies at odds with the traditional ethical concerns which traditional Christianity had espoused. David Steel successfully steered the Abortion Act (1967) into law and the contraceptive pill became available. Media influence was prominent with anti-establishment messages via satirical television programmes, films with a social message and the development of what has become celebrity culture. Both the sanctity and longevity of marriage were changed by the introduction of new divorce laws which permitted divorces to take place on the basis of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years' separation with consent and five years' separation without consent. This increased the divorce rate while cohabitation became more common and the stigma of illegitimacy declined. Homosexuality was decriminalised. There was a relaxation of Sunday trading and recreational activities and changes in the restriction of drinking hours. A form of secular morality developed separately from traditional Christian values and centred upon issues such as gender, environmentalism, racial equality, nuclear power and the well-being of body and mind. These issues attracted and unified socialist, liberals and feminists 'as an act of faith in the new secular morality'.

Brown's conclusion is that both organised Christianity and Christian culture no longer form the core realities for Britons. This, he argues, is a symptom of postmodernism which had denied the reality of grand narratives and inroduced a form of individual anarchy based on the supremacy of the individual. He shares Charles Taylor's view that Christianity is unlikely to occupy a place in the public arena unless a new age of faith emerges. That public space is occupied by secular humanism which is an attempt to understand humanity without reference to external or supernatural forces. Brown distinguishes between postmodernism and post-modernity. The latter sees modernism as an unbroken line, using the Enlightenment paradigm, emphasising rationalism and depreciating the religious self. He considers this fails to understand that Christian piety from 1800 onwards was located in female identity. 'It was their influence on children and men, their profession of purity and virtue, their attachment to domesticity and all the virtues located with that, which sustained discursive Christianity in the age of modernity'. Aggressive feminism has produced a generation of females whose moral and feminine identitites are no longer confirmed by membership of the Christian church.

However, this does not necessarily mean Christianity is in terminal decline. Theological interpretations of the Christian message have changed, making it difficult to find a Church of England bishop who believes in traditional theology. John Robinson's Honest To God (1963) and the 'Death of God' debate in the 1960s revealed anything but honesty, as did the Bishop of Durham David Jenkins in disputing fundamental Christian beliefs. However, God has proved durable to the extent that both 'Godless Christianity' and 'Atheist Theology' represent a failure to overthrow spirituality in general and Christianity in particular. Some atheists try to claim a spiritual dimension for their belief and the various New Age cults have attracted others looking for spiritual guidance. Christianity, by shedding social conformists, remains intact. The attempt by secularists to separate their charitable contributions from those of Christian groups reveals the extent to which they have become the new bigots for whom all non-secular activity is presumed superior to religious opinion. Yet basic human nature remains unchanged and with it the need to make life spiritually meaningful remains. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." Four stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another course book, 8 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Paperback)
Again this is not a book I would have bought if it hadn't been essential for a course. Its well written though and did what it said on the tin!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly dragging, 22 May 2012
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Mo (England, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Paperback)
I bought this book as its a requirement for my Open Uni course AA307 Religion and History (should be called History of Christianity in Europe).

Im on the first 30-40 pages and it seems to be slightly dragging and boring at times although it is a well researched work. Worth a read for people interested in secularization theory and its application to Britian
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 12 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Paperback)
well written book, gave good information to help with my studies in my last year at university, to help me with my grade at History.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Death of Christian Britain, 4 Oct 2010
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A. K. Whitehead (Pontefract, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Paperback)
An interesting book but I found first several chapters rather boring and the whole analysis quite narrow in being concerned only with evangelical Christianity and therefore with the lack of generality of the analysis with the UK, not to mention other countries. It is possible that other explanations for the post 1960 decline could be advanced, and that might come better from people with the insights which accompany one actualy being a Christian
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