The Clergy and Cultural Mobilisation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In the absence of an invasion or a system of military conscription, the need for the state to persuade the populace to rally behind the war effort was particularly pressing in the United Kingdom in the first months of the conflict. The clergymen of the various religious institutions across Britain and Ireland were at the forefront of this process of cultural mobilisation. Protestant, Catholic and Jewish interpretations of the war varied to some degree, but there was remarkable clerical consensus that British intervention in the European conflagration was not only legitimate and necessary, but honourable and just. The atrocities committed by German troops in Belgium and France during the first six weeks of the war reinforced this moral fervour. Importantly, the language religious leaders used in their efforts to mobilise the support of their congregations often mirrored that of the statesmen who were now directing the war effort. This chapter explores the ways in which clergymen across the United Kingdom interpreted the war publicly in August and September 1914 and considers the key role they played in the great drive to transform a deeply divided peacetime society into a relatively unified home front.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe British Home Front and the First World War
EditorsHew Strachan
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781009012324
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2023

Cite this