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Victorian Scientific NaturalismCommunity, Identity, Continuity$
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Bernard Lightman and Gowan Dawson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226109503

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226109640.001.0001

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Sunday Lecture Societies: Naturalistic Scientists, Unitarians, and Secularists Unite against Sabbatarian Legislation

Sunday Lecture Societies: Naturalistic Scientists, Unitarians, and Secularists Unite against Sabbatarian Legislation

Chapter:
(p.189) 7 Sunday Lecture Societies: Naturalistic Scientists, Unitarians, and Secularists Unite against Sabbatarian Legislation
Source:
Victorian Scientific Naturalism
Author(s):

Ruth Barton

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226109640.003.0008

Through analysis of two little-known anti-Sabbatarian organisations, Sunday Evenings for the People and the Sunday Lecture Society (SLS), this chapter examines the secularizing objectives of the scientific naturalists and the larger alliances into which they entered. Sunday lectures, which competed with sermons, were a particularly controversial anti-Sabbatarian activity. Analysis of promoters and members shows that Unitarians, Christian socialists, positivists, and advocates of naturalistic science were the chief public supporters of these Sunday lectures, although in the background were the less respectable Secularists. In the 1880s scientific men became the figureheads of the SLS, indicating that science had some cultural authority, but Unitarian lawyers were the chief activists. The most active individuals were W. B. Carpenter, W. H. Domville and, to a lesser extent, T. H. Huxley. The analysis puts scientific naturalism into a larger context of opposition to Anglican privilege and campaigns to secularize the British state.

Keywords:   Sunday lectures, anti-Sabbatarianism, secularization, Unitarians, Secularists, Positivists, Christian socialists, W. B. Carpenter, W. H. Domville, T. H. Huxley

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