Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2000
The adoption of socialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was for many an experience akin to religious conversion. Katherine St John Conway's path to enlightenment provides a stark example. While sitting in her fashionable Bristol church ‘praying for a fuller consciousness of the Presence’, she was confronted by a group of workers adopting the socialist tactic of the ‘church parade’, the invasion of churches during Sunday services to highlight labour disputes and the plight of the unemployed:
[I]n they came, lassies out on strike against starvation wages and for the right to combine … there they stood, sister-women, … ill-clad, wet through with the driving rain, hungry … ‘They stand between me and the Christ.’ So the thought smote me; so I see it still … . For the first time in my life I heard and began to understand.