• Essays on Religion & Irreligion by Penelope J. Corfield

3.7 Religion & Irreligion

3.7.1 ‘An Age of Infidelity’: Secularisation in Eighteenth-Century England (2014), Pdf33
This essay presents evidence for a gradual spread of secular ideas, attitudes, behaviour and social/cultural organisations in the context of (limited) religious toleration in eighteenth-century Britain. The key source materials are observations to that effect from many contemporary commentators, both lay and clerical. The outcome of the process of secularisation led not to the ‘death’ of religion (although more than one commentator did make that melodramatic claim) but instead to its gradual compartmentalisation as a matter of individual faith and morality, as well as a long-continuing British cultural referent. ‘Secular’ in this context invokes a this-worldly rather than ‘other-worldy’ social focus across society as a whole. The article first appeared in the journal Social History, 39 (2014), pp. 229-47. See https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03071022.2014.914785.