Religion throughout history has been a dominating social factor, and in Britain during the nineteenth century, this same religious domination can be seen. The Victorian era was marked by the Church of England, which developed such an influence in politics as well as religion that it became difficult to separate the two. The power of the church created many problems: lack of space, not relating to its people, hypocrisy, etc. The atmosphere of the high church compared to that of the dissenting groups explains why the shift of religion occurred with such a large response. Wealthy (High Church) vs. Middle Class (Dissenters)
In the high church, funding came from the wealthy which in turn gave them a piece of the church as property-pews. These pews were branded with a family name and would pass from generation to generation. If the family moved, the pew would remain vacant not open for others to sit in! This left the lower classes to standing rooms or sitting on the floor, neither of which leave a person feeling morally or spiritually uplifted. This example of people buying pieces of the church displays how it was growing more concerned with political and economic interests and less concerned with its common spirituality. The church's dependence on these interests created a place that did not welcome the middle and lower class worshippers, but was a ”preserve of the younger sons of members of the aristocracy who had little interest in religion and less interest in the growing numbers of urban poor.” This close relationship between church and state created a hostile atmosphere between it and society. The Church developed associations to the social burdens of the time poverty, disease, and oppression. And became known as a group of “elite hypocrites” rather than a mass of parishioners. Since the high church only preached to about fourteen percent of the population in England, it was only a matter of time before the majority rose up and found spiritual refuge among the...
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