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The Battle for Christian Britain
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Book description

Post-war British culture was initially dominated by religious-led sexual austerity and, from the sixties, by secular liberalism. Using five case studies of local licensing and a sixth on the BBC, conservative Christians are exposed here as the nation's censors, fighting effectively for purity on stage, screen and in public places. The Anglican-led Public Morality Council was astonishingly successful in restraining sex in London's media in the fifties, but a brazen sexualised culture thrived amongst the millions of tourists to Blackpool, whilst Glasgow and the Isle of Lewis were gripped by conservatism. But come the late 1960s, tourists took Blackpool's sexual liberalism home, whilst progressive Humanism burrowed into Parliament and the BBC to secularise moral reform and the national narrative. Using extensive archival research, Callum G. Brown adopts a secular gaze to show how conservative Christians lost the battle for the nation's moral culture.


'Grounded in meticulous archival research, Callum G. Brown’s insightful historical explication is a vital contribution to understanding the how and why of contemporary non-religion. Brown expertly demonstrates why it is important for all of us interested in non-religion to pay careful attention to the historical forces that shape the present.'

Lori G. Beaman - University of Ottawa

'A fascinating examination of how the resurgent religious culture of 1950s Britain was undermined by the intellectual, political and social shifts of the 1960s and 1970s. Deeply researched, and written with the author's customary verve, Brown’s regional approach offers an important challenge to London-centric narratives of permissiveness.'

Adrian Bingham - University of Sheffield

'This work admirably illuminates both the miasmatic conservative Christian moral vigilantism that pervasively afflicted the ‘long 1950s’, and its collapse. It makes a powerful case for looking beyond narratives that centre London and ‘the establishment’ to explore regional differences and localised initiatives in social change.'

Lesley Hall - author of Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880

'This rollicking survey of the defeat of a formidable Christian social, cultural and moral hegemony by sex, drugs, rock and roll and TV satire fundamentally reappraises religious change in Sixties Britain. A daring and devastating sortie on the scholarly consensus.'

Alana Harris - King’s College London

'For twenty years Brown has set the international agenda for histories of secularisation. He now breaks new ground by highlighting the rising influence of Humanists in the 1960s and 70s, through campaigning and especially through television. Well-researched, forcefully argued and highly readable, the book will stimulate a lively debate.'

Hugh McLeod - University of Birmingham

‘Brown’s work is a meticulously researched meditation on the entanglements between sex and religion … this book will provoke lively debate among historians of modern Britain.’

David Geiringer Source: Journal of British Studies

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