Christianity and the character education movement 1897-1914

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This article discusses the extent to which middle-class Christians, many of whom were progressive liberals, involved themselves in the Moral Instruction League (MIL) to intervene in ‘improving’ the moral character of the English working class. It considers how they reconciled their motivations and underlying theology with secular goals that sought to free morality from its theological basis in late nineteenth-century England. It argues that Christian members and supporters of the MIL, in a series of steps, began to distance themselves from the theological basis of their faith. This was in an age when people were overwhelmingly persuaded that religion and morality were inseparable and that moral education must be religious education in schools. It was the Christian faith, not doubt, that was widely assumed in Victorian England at all social levels. What was the philosophy that the organisation promoted in its approach to character-building?.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-76
Number of pages17
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number1
Early online date26 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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