19th century religion in England Term Paper

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Religion in 19th Century England

In 19th century England there was not many religious groups that were popular but many were present (Anthony S. Wohl This was the case because England did not have the religious freedom of the United Stated. Therefore there were not many religions that strived.

The main church in 19th century England was the Anglican Church (Religion and the People of Western Europe: 1789-1970) King Henry VIII established the church in 1550 because he wanted to divorce his wife and Roman Catholicism did not allow divorces. The Anglican Church or Evangelical Anglicans, was created to be a cross between Puritanism, which believed in strictness, and Catholicism, the old main religion. The Anglican Church was said to be a revised religion. Meaning that the church fit modern lifestyle. Anglicans read the Bible as a metaphor or an outline for their lifestyle. Some things in the Bible were thought of as old fashion and that they didn't apply to the Anglicans. The church was forced to widen its believes again in the 19th century. Anglicans did so because many upper class Anglicans wanted a rational, moderate, practical religion which would let them worship in peace. This allowed them to strive during the Evangelical movement and also the Oxford movement. While the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 emancipated Catholics. Which allowed Catholics to worship in peace, no longer pay taxes to the Anglican Church, and to serve in Parliament. This put pressure on the Anglican Church because it many joined Catholicism. In the mid-nineteenth century the Anglican Church was disorganized and ideologically speaking, close to Catholicism. The 1851 religious census showed that the Anglican Church was reaching only fourteen percent of the population of England. The church remained strong through the nineteenth century and was finally dismantled after the separation of church and state in 1919.

The Roman Catholic Church, which forms the largest body of Christians in the world, had a comparatively minor role in nineteenth-century England (George P. Landow). Ever since the Anglican Church was founded the few Catholics left found themselves looked down upon with suspicions and denied many civil rights, including that of serving in Parliament, owning certain kinds of property, and attending Oxford, Cambridge, and other major universities, which existed in large part to train Church of England clergy. Several nineteenth-century events markedly changed the position of Catholics and their church. First, in 1827 Parliament granted them full civil rights, including the right to serve in the legislature. In 1840 Parliament followed this change in the condition and power of Roman Catholics by removing the official tax-supported status of the Anglican Church in predominantly Great Britain. The Oxford Movement, or Tractarianism, began as a reaction to what John Henry Newman and others believed was an illegal and unchristian interference by government in the affairs of God's Church. The Tractarianism movement was a belief that the Christian religion was superior to the government. In 1850 Pope Pius IX re-established Roman Catholicism in England.

Methodism was present in nineteenth century England though it was not popular (Methodism and Modern World Problems). Methodism was a religious movement, led by Charles and John Wesley and by George Whitefield, (founders) which was created against the Anglican Church in the early eighteenth century. Methodism was originally a society, that was established at Oxford University in 1729 by Whitefield and the Wesley brothers nicknamed the "Holy Club," its members were young men who observed strict rules of fasting and prayer. Methodism was not very organized but the religion survived by sure perseverance it survived. For example John Wesley, the central figure in the Methodist movement, during his lifetime he traveled, mostly on horseback, over a quarter of a million miles, and preached over forty thousand sermons, many in the open air, before audiences which were frequently hostile. He built up enormous amount of followers. However, the laboring poor of the new industrial areas, who the Anglican Church had tended to neglect, flocked to Methodism and by the late eighteenth century there were hundreds of Methodist chapels. Methodism was a religion of the poor, and had a great deal to do with a revolution in English religion. Methodists were much more openly democratic and concerned with working-class issues, taking an active role in the development of trade unions and in radical political activities. John Wesley's death in 1791 splintered Methodism into various which did not reinstate until the United Methodist Church of Great Britain was established in 1932.

Dissenter was Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Congregationalists, and others which, because they refused to take the Anglican communion or to confirm faith to the Anglican Church, were subjected to persecution under various acts passed by Parliament (http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext

/landow/victorian/religion/dissntrs.html). Examples of the attempts that were made to discourage them were the Act of Uniformity. Which required all churches in England to use the Book of Common Prayer, and punished those who would not comply, and the Five Mile Act, which prohibited ministers who were ejected because of the Act of Uniformity from coming within five miles of any town or city. After the Toleration Act was passed in 1689, Dissenters were permitted to hold services in licensed meeting houses and to maintain their own preachers in England. But until 1828 such preachers remained subject to the Test Act, which required all civil and military officers to be communicants of the Anglican Church, and to take oaths of supremacy and allegiance. Though this act was aimed primarily at Roman Catholics, it excluded Dissenters as well.

Puritanism was present in England but it did not serve any major part in nineteenth century England (Recent Studies in Victorian Religious History, Victorian Studies). The Puritan movement was a broad trend toward a militant, biblically based Calvinistic Protestantism with emphasis upon the "purification" of church and society of the remnants of "corrupt" and "unscriptural papist" which developed within the late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century. Puritanism first emerged as an organized force in England among Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists, for example dissatisfied with the compromises inherent in the religious settlement carried out under Queen Elizabeth. They sought a complete reformation both of religious and of secular life, and advocated, in consequence, the attacks upon the Anglican establishment, the emphasis upon a disciplined, godly life, and the energetic evangelical activities which characterized their movement. The Presbyterian wing of the Puritan party was eventually defeated in Parliament, and after the suppression in 1583 of Nonconformist ministers, a minority moved to separate from the church and sought refuge first in the Netherlands and later in New England. While others stay behind in England. By the 1660s Puritanism was firmly established amongst the gentry and the emerging middle classes of southern and eastern England, and during the Civil Wars the Puritans fought for the parliamentary. After 1646, however, the Puritan emphasis upon individualism and the individual conscience made it impossible for the movement to form a national Presbyterian Church, and by 1662, Puritanism had become a loose confederation of various Dissenters. The growing pressure for religious toleration within Britain itself was to a considerable degree a legacy of Puritanism, and its emphasis on self-discipline, individualism, responsibility, work, and asceticism was also an important influence upon the values and attitudes of the emerging middle classes.

In conclusion, England was full of religious movements and changes (Ryan Froelich's final thought). Though England had religious tolerance many religions were deprived. Many religions found the nineteenth century full of hardships while others found the nineteenth century the apex of their religious history.

Works Cited

Wilberforce. Allen R. Methodism and Modern World Problems. London: Methuen & Co., 1926.

McLeod, Hugh. Religion and the People of Western Europe: 1789-1970. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1981. http://www.stg.brown.edu


victorian/religion/Hierarchy_Reestablished.html Wohl, Anthony S.

McLeod, Hugh. Recent Studies in Victorian Religious History, Victorian Studies, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1977.


landow/victorian/religion/dissntrs.html Cody, David


landow/victorian/religion/cath1.html Landow, George P.

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