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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

1 - Introduction

from Part I - The Battle in Context


The concept is broached of mid-twentieth-century British Christianity as in a battle, comprising five core zones of engagement. These were: the struggle of conservative religionists to impose upon the people ignorance about sex; the effort of licensing authorities to control leisure venues; the struggle between churches and their agents against Humanists, secularists, agnostics and atheists over the theocratic stranglehold of moral law; the contest waged by Humanists to release the Christian grip upon moral and ethical broadcasting at the BBC; and, with the collapse of the conservative moral regime in the 1960s, the discreet tussle erupting between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church for the baton of moral leadership. These struggles undergird the book’s key interventions – to enlarge religion in cultural history, reasserting the reality of secularisation in the British establishment and pinpointing Humanists as the pioneers in progressive medical legislation. Reviews follow of existing narratives of the 1950s and 1960s in transatlantic and British historiography, emphasising the importance of parallel North American experience in the history of sex and religion.