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New Paths to Salvation in 19th and 20th Century Europe

Les nouvelles voies du salut dans l'Europe des xixe et xxe siècles
Hugh McLeod
p. 165-189

Résumés

Pour interpréter les tendances à la sécularisation dans l'Europe des19e et20e siècles, nous ne devons pas nous contenter d'examiner l'impact des mouvements séculiers ou des changements sociaux. Nous devrions examiner comment des mouvements qui n'étaient pas intrinsèquement irréligieux, et qui peuvent même avoir commencé avec une logique religieuse, ont pu en venir à prendre en charge de nombreuses fonctions de la religion, et peuvent être considérés comme offrant de nouvelles formes de salut, remplaçant les formes plus anciennes. Cet article se concentre sur la place croissante du sport dans les sociétés européennes et sur sa relation avec la religion. L'évolution cruciale du19e siècle a été l'affirmation selon laquelle la pratique du sport n'était pas seulement agréable, mais aussi vertueuse : le sport rendait les gens meilleurs et les sociétés meilleures. L'article commence par la relation entre le sport et le nationalisme, depuis l'époque du mouvement gymnique allemand dans les années 1810, et par le rôle du sport dans l'éducation, à partir de l'Angleterre des années 1850. Il aborde ensuite l'engouement pour le football des années 1890 à nos jours, le culte de la course à pied depuis 1970, et l'"olympisme" de Coubertin, qui prétendait que le sport pouvait contribuer à la paix. Il conclut en analysant la relation entre le sport et la sécularisation, ainsi que la poursuite de liens plus positifs entre le sport et la religion.

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Notes de l’auteur

Research for this article was carried out while I was a Fellow of the KFG « Multiple Secularities » at the University of Leipzig in 2022, and an earlier version was tried out at their seminar. I would like to thank my colleagues there for their helpful comments, criticisms and suggestions, and for sharing with me their own research.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Alan D. Gilbert, The Making of Post-Christian Britain : A History of the Secularization of Modern (...)
  • 2 Callum G. Brown, The Death of Christian Britain : Understanding Secularisation, 2nd edn., London, (...)
  • 3 Ibid., Callum G. Brown, The Battle for Christian Britain : Sex, Humanists and Secularisation, 1945 (...)
  • 4 Gérard Cholvy and Yves-Marie Hilaire (eds.), Histoire religieuse de la France contemporaine, 1930- (...)
  • 5 Steve Bruce, Religion in the Modern World : From Cathedrals to Cults, Oxford, Oxford University Pr (...)

1The historical and sociological literature on secularisation in 19th and 20th century Europe is now vast. Scholars have debated the meanings of secularisation and its validity as a concept. Those (the majority) who believe that it does have meaning and validity have come to completely different conclusions as to its chronology and causes. So far as chronology is concerned, those at one extreme have traced a secularising current back as far as the 12th century1. At the other extreme are those who argue that one cannot speak meaningfully of secularisation before the 1960s2. So far as causes are concerned one can distinguish between those like Callum Brown, who see religion succumbing to external attack (in his version, at the hands of feminists, Humanists and the sexual revolution)3 ; those who blame the Christian churches for responding in the wrong way to these threats, an example being Gérard Cholvy and Yves-Marie Hilaire, who criticise their own Catholic Church for responding inappropriately to the challenges of the 1960s4 ; and those, including most sociologists, as well as many historians, who see religion falling victim to impersonal social changes5.

  • 6 Wolfgang Emmerich (ed.), Proletarische Lebensläufe, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1974, Rohwolt, I, p. 285, (...)

2I want to highlight forms of secularisation which may have happened without anyone intending it – secularity without secularism. My suggestion is that in the 19th century and continuing into the 20th ways of thinking or behaving have emerged which without intending any attack have encroached on the territory formerly occupied by religion or by religious institutions and have come to do for many people the same things which religion did, and thus to take part or even all of the place of religion in their lives. By a « path to salvation » I mean a model of the good life, offering dignity, fulfilment and purpose for the individual, and a way forward for humanity. While many people have continued to find this path by following the teachings of Christianity, Judaism or, more recently Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism, a growing number of others have consciously or unconsciously gone down new paths. One of these new concepts of salvation was clearly expressed by a formerly Catholic German factory-worker who had become a Social Democrat and after a good deal of soul-searching had adopted a scientific-materialist world-view : « I finally came to the conclusion that it was impossible to know anything about the last things ; but it was sufficient for me to know that if there is an after-life and a reward, I could stand before God with my Socialism »6.

3I will look briefly at two more familiar examples, namely politics and music, before looking in detail at the example of sport, which has had little attention from historians of religion, but which has grown to enjoy an ever-greater role in 20th and 21st century societies. It has a broader appeal than politics or music and is frequently celebrated or denigrated as the religion of the modern world.

Salvation by Politics or Music

  • 7 Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers, London, HarperCollins, 2005, IDEM., Sacred Causes, London, Harpe (...)

4The idea of political religions which claim to supersede all older forms of religion is well-known. Nationalism in the 19th century sometimes worked in alliance with traditional religion, but sometimes in opposition, demanding the complete loyalty of its followers, including, if necessary, the willingness to sacrifice their lives7. In the later 19th and early 20th centuries first Socialism, then Communism and Fascism did the same. But my concern here is not with those political faiths which stood in conscious opposition to the Christian or Jewish faiths, but with those which worked alongside the older faiths, but came gradually to take their place. I will give two examples from Britain in the 19th century, and one from France in the 1960s.

5The first example comes from Birmingham in 1839, where a missionary employed by a local Calvinist church was going from door to door in a poor district of the city. At one house he spoke with a dying man, who persisted in finding in politics, rather than religious doctrine, the measure of the state of his soul. The missionary reported their conversation as follows :

  • 8 Geoffrey Robson, « Working Class Evangelists in Early Victorian Birmingham », in Derek Baker (ed.) (...)

After conversing with him in the most solemn manner on the subject of faith and repentance he
said, without anything that would lead to such an observation, ‘’ Do you think the present ministers
will go out ? ‘’ On my wishing to evade the subject he said that he has been a Reformer and really did
not think that a Tory could be saved and evidently comforted himself with the hope that it would
fare better with him in another world because he has always voted against the abuses of
government and church rates.8

  • 9 Neil Johnson, Keir Hardie’s Creed : Faith in Socialism, Eugene OR, Wipf & Stock, 2023, p. 89.
  • 10 Neil Johnson, The Labour Church : The Movement and its Message, London, Routledge, 2018, p. 28.

6Radicals thus claimed that political activism was the highest test of virtue. At times of intense political enthusiasm this often meant a turning away from religious activity by those who believed that politics took precedence. A second example is that of Keir Hardie, the first Labour member of the UK Parliament and the most revered figure in the history of the British Labour Party. Hardie who was a Scottish miner before becoming a union leader and politician was converted to Christianity as a young man, becoming a member of and lay preacher for the Evangelical Union, one of the many small Dissenting churches which flourished in Scotland at the time. As his political career developed his involvement with the church was more intermittent, and he became highly critical of what he called the « churchianity » of pious businessmen who forgot about their religion during the week, and of clergy who failed to speak out against social injustice. However, he remained a Christian and his form of Socialism was shaped by his religious beliefs. The emphasis now was not on Christian doctrine, but on putting Christianity into practice through political action. As he was quoted as saying in a volume about the beliefs of Labour Members of Parliament : « The work of the labour movement today is to apply these principles of Christ’s teaching to modern industrial and political problems, so as to bring about the time when there shall be no more poverty, either of mind, body or spirit…9 » Or, in the words of John Trevor, founder of the Labour Church movement, of which Hardie was a stalwart : « God is in the Labour Movement. […] The great religious movement of our time is the movement for the emancipation of labour.10 »

  • 11 Gerd-Rainer Horn, The Spirit of Vatican II : Western European Progressive Catholicism in the Long (...)
  • 12 Danièle Hervieu-Léger, De la mission à la protestation : L’Évolution des étudiants chrétiens, Pari (...)
  • 13 Hugh McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 146-51.

7My more modern example comes from the student movements of the 1960s. Some of the most important student leaders of these years were strongly influenced by Christianity, and in some countries explicitly Christian organisations played a major part11. However, many of these Christian radicals found their loyalty to their church stretched to breaking point, as a result of which some ended by rejecting Christianity, while other developed new forms of Christian community or maintained a more private faith. One example is the French Catholic student organisation, the Mission étudiante, which was strongly influenced by the events of 1968. Its members lived their Christianity through political action and by participation in their base communities, while becoming increasingly detached from the church, because of its attempts to stay outside the class struggle, rather than committing unequivocally to the cause of the proletariat12. Without any conscious rejection of their Christian origins, there were many radicals of this time for whom their activism became a complete way of life in relation to which older beliefs and concerns simply slipped into the background, until they were almost forgotten13.

8While the claim that politics can act as a form of religion will be familiar, it is less widely known that in the 19th century and continuing into the 20th some people argued that music had become the religion of the modern age. This was the theme of an important article by Helmut Koenigsberger. He was Professor of Early Modern History at London University, but it is no doubt significant that he had been born in Germany, since claims of this kind were made more frequently in Germany than in for instance England. Koenigsberger aimed to show :

That as religious sensibilities declined, there appeared a new psychological need in men, a kind of
emotional void, and that this need or void was filled primarily by music. Music found itself rarely in
direct opposition to religion, and when this did happen the initiative came from certain religious
leaders. More normally, it was the very alliance of religion and music which allowed music to play
an increasingly important and, eventually, even preponderant role in the European psyche.

  • 14 H.G. Koenigsberger, « Music and Religion in Modern European History », in J.H. Elliott and H.G. Ko (...)

9Koenigsberger quotes Wagner who equated Christianity with music, but claimed that while Christianity was usually expressed though dogma, music goes beyond dogma - « music says to us this is ». Koenigsberger suggests that music could provide the « emotional satisfactions » that the Churches no longer could, and was even seen as pointing to « eternal truths ». He referred to a book published in Paris in 1905 with the title « Music as a Religion of the Future », and he concluded by suggesting thatpopular music might come to fill the quasi-religious role for the masses which Beethoven and Wagner performed for elites14.

  • 15 Thomas Nipperdey, Religion im Umbruch, Munich, C.H. Beck, 1987, p. 142.
  • 16 Frances Knight, Victorian Christianity at the Fin de Siècle : The Culture of English Religion in a (...)

10In 19th-century Germany the religion of music, as well as of literature and art appealed to many members of the educated middle class who were distanced from the church but continued to regard themselves as « religious ». It was especially attractive to women in this class, who were relatively resistant to the cult of science which appealed so much to their husbands and fathers15. In England the growing interest in ideas of this kind at the end of the 19th century was part of the reaction then underway against « Victorianism », and the rejection of the powerful English tradition of puritanism16.

  • 17 McLeod, Secularisation, p. 158, citing Arnold Horowitz, « Prussian State and Prussian Church in th (...)
  • 18 Jim Obelkevich, « Music and Religion in the Nineteenth Century », in Jim Obelkevich, Lyndal Roper (...)

11When in 1911 the popular but highly unorthodox Cologne pastor, Karl Jatho was charged with heresy by the Prussian church authorities, he was alleged to have said that « Music is the only really adequate experience of religion », that « the “God experience” is fluid, one can never be sure of being constant to this or that mean of expressing it », and that « copulation … is the highest level of revelation of God’s love »17. Clearly none of this was close to the Protestant Church’s official teaching, and Jatho was dismissed ; but it is not surprising that he was so popular - these ideas were typical of an important current of German middle-class thinking at the time. Wagner, in his essay on Beethoven, claimed that the composer was « holy », a « tone-poet seer » who « reveals to us the inexpressible », his « suffering » being his « penalty for the state of inspiration ». Traditional religion had become « artificial », but music offered « the essence of Religion freed from all dogmatic fictions ». By « teaching redemption-starved mankind a second speech in which the Infinite can voice itself », music would give modern civilisation a « a soul », « a new religion ». As Obelkevich comments, Wagner himself became the object of the greatest of all musical cults, and visits to Bayreuth became « pilgrimages »18.

The Religion of Sport

  • 19 Ibid., p. 564-5.

12The religion of politics offers a salvation to be achieved through work to change society for the better. The salvation offered by music is of a more individual kind – as Obelkevich puts it, « the elation and exaltation produced by music are the nearest thing to the ecstasy of mystical religion.19 » In the rest of this paper, I want to turn to another of the new religions proclaimed in 19th and 20th century Europe, namely the religion of sport.

  • 20 Hugh McLeod, Religion and the Rise of Sport in England, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022, p.  (...)

13Taking the example of England (though of course the precise situation varied from country to country) one can speak of four types of sporting practice at the beginning of the 19th century. There were the sports of the aristocracy and gentry, who had ample resources of time and money, and for whom hunting and shooting were often the biggest things in their life. There were the communal recreations, often called « calendar sports », because they took place at specific holiday periods, generally linked with days on the church calendar. There were the more informal sports practised on Sundays or on weekday evenings, mainly by young men. And there were the beginnings of commercially organised professional sports, usually associated with gambling, notably boxing and horse-racing20. These sports variously offered entertainment, relaxation, prestige for those who performed well, and profit for those who staged professional events, for the star performers and for those who gambled successfully. No-one yet spoke of a « religion » of sport.

14The crucial new development in the 19th century was the idea that practising sport was not only enjoyable : it was also virtuous. Indeed, sport could make you a better person. This idea has remained highly influential right up to the present day, though it has taken many different forms. Initially those influenced were men, and later women too, of the business and professional classes. But from the later 19th century onwards, as standards of living gradually increased and hours of work diminished, this influence spread much more widely.

Sport and the Nation

  • 21 Michael Krüger, Leibeserziehung im 19. Jahrhundert : Turnen fürs Vaterland, Schorndorf, Verlag Kar (...)
  • 22 Ibid., p. 66
  • 23 Hugh McLeod, « Religion, Politics and Sport in Western Europe, c.1870-1939 », in Stewart J. Brown, (...)
  • 24 Pierre Arnaud (ed.), Les athlètes de la République : Gymnastique, sport et idéologie républicaine, (...)
  • 25 Moshe Zimmerman, « Muscle Jews versus Nervous Jews », in Michael Brenner and Gideon Reuveni (eds.) (...)
  • 26 Michael Cronin, Sport and Nationalism : Gaelic Games, Soccer and Irish Identity since 1884, Dublin (...)

15The first answer to the question « Why does sport make you a better person ? » was « Because it equips you to defend your fatherland ». This was the claim of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn founder of the German Turner movement and the first to establish the link between sport and nationalism which has lasted right up to the present day21. The context of the German gymnastics movement of which Jahn was the most prominent leader was the French occupation of large parts of Germany and the Prussian War of Liberation. After the defeat of the French, the German nationalism of the Turner combined with a liberal and democratic critique of the existing political order which led for a time to a ban on the movement as well as Jahn’s arrest. Turner compared the free movement of the gymnast swinging between the bars with the freedom of thought and political action that they demanded. Jahn had preached the four Fs : « frisch, frei, fröhlich, fromm ». But by the 1840s some Turner had become Freethinkers and wished to delete the last « F ». As the German sports historian Michael Krüger comments, the nation itself had become a holy concept and nationalism an ersatz religion22. Later the association between gymnastics and nationalism spread to other countries and for similar reasons23. It could be called Bismarck’s unintended contribution to the growth of sport. Gymnastics and rifle-shooting received an enormous boost from defeats in war with Prussia, first in Denmark in the 1860s then in France in the 1870s. The religious accompaniments of patriotic sport varied widely. In France after 1870 two gymnastic and sporting movements developed, the first Republican and the second Catholic, both strongly embued with patriotic and anti-German feeling24. The « Muscular Judaism » preached by the Zionist Max Nordau offered not so much reform as an abolition of Judaism as it had been understood for centuries. Harking back to what he called « the weapon-happy Jews » of ancient times, Nordau poured scorn on the modern Jew with his weak muscles, buried in study of the Bible and the Talmud25. However, Irish nationalism was closely linked with Catholicism and when in 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association was formed to promote what were seen as traditional Irish sports in opposition to the « foreign games » such as football and cricket, the patrons of the Association comprised two Nationalist politicians and a Catholic archbishop26. In other words, gymnastics and other patriotic sports in 19th century Europe had no intrinsic religious or secularist meaning, but these meanings varied according to the different political and religious situations in different parts of Europe.

  • 27 Michael Krüger, Leibesübungen im 20. Jahrhundert. Sport für alle, 2nd edn., Schorndorf, Verlag Kar (...)

16A more thorough-going mixing of sport, nationalism and preparation for war in combination with a consistent secularism came only in the 20th century, reaching its fullest development in the German Democratic Republic. Walther Ulbricht, himself a sportsman, urged everyone to practise sport several times a week, and within six months of the state’s establishment in 1949 sport and swimming were made compulsory parts of the school syllabus, in spite of severe shortages both of trained teachers and of sporting facilities. In 1958 he promulgated a new version of the Ten Commandments, which spelled out the more constructive part of his programme for the destruction of religion. The declared aims of sports education included not only physical fitness, but the inculcation of Socialist ethics, team spirit, discipline and the ability to defend the Fatherland. Military education was part of sports teaching in schools and of the training of sports teachers. Meanwhile the very high level of investment in elite sport reflected not only the contribution that success in high-profile events, notably the Olympic Games, might make to national prestige, but also the hope that such successes would be a source of pride to the people and would reinforce their loyalty to their Socialist Fatherland and its government. Seldom has the association between sport and good citizenship been so clear and seldom has it been so explicitly secular27.

  • 28 Julia Braun, « ‘‘Jedermann an jedem Ort – einmal in der Woche Sport” : Triumph und Trugbild des DD (...)

17In these last examples, sport was seen primarily as a tool in the service of nationalism or, in the case of the GDR, of Socialism, rather than being an end itself. This is similar to the instrumental use of sport by those religious organisations which have provided a large sporting programme primarily because it is seen as a means of attracting young people to the church. The GDR offers a striking example of the subordination of the sporting to the political. In spite of the early emphasis on sport for all, mass sport was subsequently marginalised by the channelling of resources to the training of elite athletes. Moreover, those selected to receive an intensive sporting education needed not only to be outstandingly talented but also to come from what were regarded as politically reliable families28. However, in my next example sport come to be regarded not only as valuable in itself, but in some people’s eyes as uniquely so.

Sport and Character-Building

18The second answer to the question, « Why does sport make you a better person ? » was « Because it builds character ». These claims originated in mid-19th century Britain, and I will concentrate here on the British example, though similar ideas soon developed in the United States and then in many other countries. « Character » was a key concept in British and American Protestant thinking in the later nineteenth century. It reflected a move away from the overwhelming emphasis by early nineteenth-century Evangelicals on human sinfulness and the necessity for an experience of conversion. By the later years of the century, Protestants were moving towards a more optimistic belief in the human capacity for good, together with a stress on what was called « practical Christianity », including work to reform society. « Character » included physical fitness and ability to endure pain, but also discipline, the spirit of « fair play », and team spirit – qualities remarkably similar to some of those which East German sports education aimed to produce.

  • 29 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 29-85.
  • 30 Norman Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit : The Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature (...)
  • 31 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 52-5.

19These ideas had their roots both in educational thinking and in theology. In the early 19th century it had often seemed that the worlds of religion and of sport were at war with one another, but from around 1850 there were the beginnings of a rapprochement29. More specifically, clergy were turning from attacking the « bad » sports, involving cruelty to animals or connected with gambling, to promoting « good » sports, among which cricket, which was beginning to be seen as « the national game », had a special place. The leaders of this Christian sporting movement, the best-known of whom were the writers, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes, came mainly from the liberal « Broad Church » wing of the Church of England and in 1857 a journalist invented the term « Muscular Christianity » to describe their message. They were driven by a range of concerns. Their advocacy of sport was part of a crusade against the asceticism preached by many Catholics and High Church Anglicans, and what they regarded as the narrow puritanism of the Evangelicals. Using their favourite term of abuse, they called these « Manicheanism ». They decried any attempt to separate the things of the soul from those of the mind or the body, and they declared that sports and other forms of physical recreation were among God’s good gifts, and should be enjoyed as one part of a full life, both by laypeople and by the clergy30 .Kingsley, an Anglican clergyman, and Hughes, a barrister and later a Liberal Member of Parliament, were also members of the short-lived Christian Socialist movement, which was focused on what was called « The Condition of England » and aimed to improve the living and working conditions of the working class, one aspect of which was the need for more time and better facilities for leisure31.

  • 32 Malcolm Tozer, The Ideal of Manliness : The Legacy of Thring’s Uppingham, Truro, Sunnyrest Books, (...)
  • 33 Malcolm Tozer, Physical Education at Thring’s Uppingham, Uppingham, Uppingham School, 1976, p. 26- (...)

20The changes at this time can be seen most clearly in the so-called « public schools », attended by the sons of the upper and upper middle classes32. One of the most influential pioneers was the Rev Edward Thring, headmaster of Uppingham from 1853 to 1887. Already in the 1850s, he was the first British headmaster to make football compulsory and to provide his school with a purpose-built gymnasium. As a sports-lover himself, he joined the boys in cricket and football. These measures were part of a programme of all-round education, which also included more emphasis on music and art. The aim was partly to provide less intellectual boys with spheres in which they could excel. More generally, Thring’s purpose was to educate the whole person, « body, intellect and heart », recognising that each part was essential and all were inter-related. Each of the many sports practised at Uppingham had its special role. Some were simply fun, some were for training the body, and some for encouraging the competitive instinct. At the top of the hierarchy stood football and cricket, which were character-forming : they depended on team-spirit and they encouraged such qualities as courage, self-control and observance of rules33.

  • 34 J.F.C. Harrison, A History of the Working Men’s College, 1854-1954, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul (...)
  • 35 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 94-9, 101-3.
  • 36 J.A. Mangan, The Games Ethic and Imperialism, Harmondsworth, Allen Lane Press, 1986, p. 174.
  • 37 C.E. Tyndale-Biscoe, Building Character in Kashmir, London, Church Missionary Society, 1920, p. 13 (...)

21The Christian sporting movement began in the elite boys’ schools, but soon spread much more widely. For example, the Working Men’s College founded in London in 1854 by members of the Christian Socialist movement, soon added cricket, rowing and boxing to the educational programme34. From the 1860s, first Anglican and then Dissenting congregations were forming clubs for sport, most often cricket, and from the 1880s the public schools for girls were providing large amounts of sport35. British sports were also being taken to Asia and Africa by Christian missionaries and teachers in Christian mission schools36. A striking example was C.E. Tyndale-Biscoe, head of an Anglican school in Kashmir from 1890 to 1947. In spite of resistance from many of the boys, not to mention their parents who saw all this as a waste of time, he made rowing, boxing, football and cricket major parts of the curriculum. He persisted, because he saw « manly » sports as schools for Christian virtues, and he believed that the best Christians were those with bodies and characters trained on the sports field or the river. In his book Building Character in Kashmir He explained that « to be a Christian one has to strive after perfect manliness – strength of body, strength of intellect, strength of soul – and to show that strength by practical sympathy for « the weak ». « But », he added, « how can a slacker and a weakling desire such a life ? »37.

  • 38 Tozer, Uppingham, p. 140-43.
  • 39 Tozer, Manliness, p. 260, 280.
  • 40 John Lowerson, Sport and English Middle Classes, 1870-1914, Manchester, Manchester University Pres (...)

22The growing emphasis on sport from the 1850s onwards was intended as part of a broader education. By the later 19th century, however, critics argued that sport, rather than being one part of a balanced education, was becoming more important than the academic, the cultural or the religious and rather than being underpinned by religious and ethical values, it was coming to be seen as something inherently good in itself, which could produce better people and would make attending church or reading the Bible unnecessary. Once again, Thring’s Uppingham provides a clear example of the wider trends. Thring in the 1850s had been one of the first headmasters to promote sport and make it an integral part of the curriculum. Yet by the 1870s he was already agonising in his diary about the disproportionate place which sport had come to occupy in the school’s life and the adulation accorded to outstanding footballers and cricketers38. In the early 1900s a former teacher at Eton, the most prestigious of the public schools, commented that to criticise sport would require more courage than to criticise anything else : « For the ordinary Englishman », he claimed, « a belief in games is a part of faith and morals »39. As one contemporary football enthusiast wrote in 1905 « there is more moral training for youth in the playing of this game than there is in going to church, and listening to dull sermons, and in the monotonous repetition of dull formulae.40 »

  • 41 Department for Media, Culture and Sport, Game Plan, with Foreword by Tony Blair, London, Her Majes (...)

23Secularism had no part in these trends, but we can see here the basis for an implicit secularity, which would reach full development in the later 20th and early 21th centuries. It is reflected in the claims for sport made even by democratic governments led by professing Christians. Thus, the Game Plan produced by Tony Blair’s government in Britain in 2002 included far-reaching statements of the benefits of sport both to the individual and to society. « Sport defines us a nation. It teaches us about life. We learn self-discipline and teamwork from it. We learn how to win with grace and lose with dignity. It gets us fit. It keeps us healthy ». The document further claimed that sport could reduce crime and increase social inclusion, and that international sporting success benefited everyone by producing a « feel-good factor »41.

  • 42 McLeod, 1960s, p. 204-5.

24More significant than the rhetoric of governments is the changing practice of parents. One of the factors in the decline of British Sunday Schools in the 1970s and ‘80s was the increasing availability of Sunday sport. Soon there would be many parents who were as anxious to ensure that their children spent most of Sunday in sport as they once would have been to ensure that they went to Sunday School. A telling example is that of a working-class Lancashire mother, who had been brought up as a Methodist and who saw herself as a Christian, though she no longer went to church. She was talking to an oral historian about how she had brought up her two boys born in the 1970s. « We tried Sunday School, we tried clubs. It didn’t work ». So she switched to sport and she believed that it had taught the boys « discipline » and « morals ». It seems that sport and Sunday School had become interchangeable – wholesome activities which would keep the children out of mischief and help them to grow up into decent adults. A woman interviewed in another oral history project about how she had brought up her daughter, born in 1968, and son born in 1970 said that their daughter went to Sunday School for a time, but it did not last. Now their Sunday revolved round sport. A working-class father recalled that his wife had taken their son, born in 1960, to the Catholic church until he was about seven or eight, but then the boy started playing football. Before long the parents spent Sunday watching their son playing. The father declared that he regarded going to a football match as being as good as going to church42.

  • 43 Laura Potter, ‘How to get your Kids into Sport for Life,’ Guardian, 9 July 2022.

25In similar fashion, the Guardian, Britain’s leading left-liberal paper, published an article in 2022 with the title « How to get your kids into sport for life ». While in earlier times clergymen complained about families where the mother took the children to church while their father headed for the pub, a sports psychologist quoted in the article complained of families where sport was the responsibility of the father, while mothers took little interest. She added sternly : « It’s really important that both parents do this equally »43.

« The First Truly International Faith »

  • 44 John J. Macaloon, This Great Symbol : Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Ga (...)

26My third example is that of the modern Olympic movement of which the principal founder was the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Coubertin came from a Catholic and royalist aristocratic family. He, however, was a Republican in politics, and was distanced from the church. He was an anglophile and was particular impressed by the English public schools and the role within them of sport. After several visits to English schools in the 1880s he aimed to introduce English educational ideas into French schools. Then in 1889 he travelled to the United States to study the role of sport in American universities. But in the 1890s his thoughts increasingly focused on reviving the Olympic Games44.

  • 45 Pierre de Coubertin, Selected Writings, edited by Norbert Müller, English translation, Lausanne, I (...)
  • 46 T.R. Wright, The Religion of Humanity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986 ; Todd H. Weir, (...)
  • 47 Barbara Keys, « The Ideals of Global Sport », in Id. (ed.), The Ideals of Global Sport : From Peac (...)

27The modern Olympics began in Athens in 1896 and except when prevented by war or pandemic have taken place at four-yearly intervals ever since. Clearly these are much more than sporting events and, in particular, international politics has come to play a major role. This is ironical as Coubertin had an ambitious and very optimistic vision of what the Games might be and do. For him, « Olympism », as he called it was a religious movement and one with the potential to unite humanity and contribute to peace. Indeed, he thought that it could become the first truly international faith. The many rituals surrounding the Games were deliberately intended to reinforce this religious meaning45. Gymnastics in Germany and the promotion of sport in British schools had their roots in liberal forms of Protestantism ; on the other hand, while Coubertin did not explicitly reject Christianity, his Olympism belongs with the « Religions of Humanity » which flourished in the 19th century both in Europe and in the Americas, notable examples including the Positivism of Auguste Comte and the German « Free- Religious » movement46. In claiming to be religions, in spite of having no God, they redefined the sacred to be embodied in Humanity and everything that contributes to Humanity’s fullest moral, social and cultural development. In Coubertin’s view, sport could make a unique contribution to the fulfilment of these objectives. The modern Olympic movement has inherited a large part of his vision. The version of the Olympic Charter promulgated in 2016 no longer uses the word « religious » but defines Olympism as « a philosophy of life based on respect for universal ethical principles ». It describes the practice of sport as a human right and declares that the goal of Olympism is « to place sport in the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity »47. While this can be seen as part of the rhetoric of self-justification common to the mission statements of institutions and businesses of all kinds, what is more striking is the extent to which this rhetoric is believed.

  • 48 Guardian, 5 July 2017.
  • 49 Keys, op. cit., p. 1.

28The ever-increasing diversity of modern societies is a crucial factor in the special standing which sport has achieved. In times of war, politicians, however irreligious they may be at other times, still turn to traditional religions because of their unique ability to proclaim the sacredness of the national cause and inspire self-sacrifice. At other times these leaders may prefer to turn to sport, which is seen as one of the few things which can transcend differences of religion, politics, ethnicity or social class. A survey of British opinion in 2017, at a time when many sports seemed to be mired in scandal, found that 71 % of those polled nonetheless agreed with the statement that « Sport is a force for good »48. When a president or prime minister attends a place of worship this will attract favourable comment from some observers and criticism from others ; when he or she attends a football match it is completely uncontroversial – even if like Angela Merkel or Boris Johnson they had no previous interest in the sport. Nelson Mandela was genuinely interested in sport, and he tried to use pride in the national football, rugby and cricket teams as a means of uniting South Africans across all the boundaries of race and ethnicity. In a ringing statement of faith, he declared : « Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. …Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.49 »

29So here again we can see an implicit secularity. Sport, whether seen as a « religion » or as a « philosophy of life » has taken over some of the roles previously accorded to religion and maybe, though this is seldom stated explicitly, renders older forms of religion superfluous.

Sport and Spirituality

30My fourth example had its beginnings in the later 20th century. It was based on the idea that sport, and especially jogging or running, is good, not only because it keeps you fit, but because it opens the way to new experiences, and maybe new insights into the nature of reality, and also offers healing for those in distress. While 19th century educationalists had seen special value in team sports, the new generation of runners in the 1970s was attracted by the individualism of their sport. It accorded with the contemporary belief that everyone should find their own « path », unfettered by institutions and dogmas. Some runners saw it as the cure for their depression ; some simply enjoyed the free movement and the sense of being at ease in their body ; some experienced feelings of oneness with nature and the universe ; some prayed or meditated as they ran.

  • 50 Hal Higdon, « Is Running a Religious Experience ? », in Shirl J. Hoffman (ed.), Sport and Religion(...)

31In 1978 Hal Higdon, a writer for the American magazine Runner’s World, asked « Is Running a Religious Experience ? » He offered no answer to this question, but he found plenty of people who said « Yes »50 :

For an increasing number of people today, running has become if not an organized religion,
at least the most important activity in their life. In fact, it has become a way of life and all hope.
Running is something that consumes their previously idle hours, or previously wasted hours : a
purifying activity that often dominates their weekends with races and preparations for future
races, becoming their Sabbath, taking over their Sunday mornings.

32Clearly they did so for a number of different reasons, including most obviously benefits to physical health, but often moral benefits as well. One literally said that running had made him a better person, citing not only fitness, but greater patience, consideration and tolerance – though he was even less tolerant than before of « sloth, obesity, excessive drinking and smoking ». Several claimed to have received new spiritual insights from running. One former Catholic who was repelled by the commercialisation of high-profile events, thought that : « Your everyday joggers and runners are the ones who are more spiritually enlightened and closer to God. …Joggers are less concerned with victory over their fellow runners and more involved with peace among their fellow man ». And many saw running as a way to connect with nature, whether because, as one interviewee put it, it « reflects God’s glory », or whether running is itself, as one suggested, « one of the religions of tomorrow ». If so, among its attractions is that it is open to almost any individual interpretation.

  • 51 Jürgen Martschukat, The Age of Fitness, English translation, Cambridge, Polity, 2021 [published in (...)

33The historian Jürgen Martschukat, focusing mainly on the United States and Germany, argues that the passion for running of all kinds, from jogging to marathons, and for « fitness » more generally began in the United States in the later 1960s and ‘70s and soon spread to other countries. The New York Marathon began in 1970 ; Berlin followed in 1974, Paris 1979 and London in 1981. Gyms, described by Time magazine in 1981 as « secular cathedrals for the worship of the body » attracted ever-increasing numbers in the 1980s. Martschukat roots these trends in the interaction between two currents of ideas : on the one hand the counter-culture of the later 1960s with its cult of individual freedom, and on the other neo-liberalism with its emphasis on individual responsibility and reward, and its optimistic view of what the unfettered individual can achieve51.

  • 52 Guillaume Cuchet, Le catholicisme a-t-il encore de l’avenir en France ? Paris, Éditions du Seuil, (...)

34Guillaume Cuchet, in his account of the rise of running in France since around 1980, adopts a more psychological approach. Noting that a high proportion of runners are middle-aged, he links it with the mid-life crisis and the first symptoms of approaching old age and mortality. He refers to an old Catholic canticle still well-known in the 1950s, which runs « Je n’ai qu’une âme qu’il faut sauver. De l‘éternelle flamme il faut la préserver », and he quotes a sociologist who suggested this should now read « Je n’ai qu’un corps et c’est lui qu’il faut sauver »52.

  • 53 Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead, The Spiritual Revolution : Why Religion is giving way to Spiritual (...)
  • 54 Higdon, op.cit., p. 79.

35A further influence might be added, namely the new forms of spirituality identified by the sociologists of religion, Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead, in their book The Spiritual Revolution. Since the 1960s, they argue, in countries such as Britain and the United States, « religion is giving way to spirituality ». This « spirituality », they argue, disavows subordination to any external authority, whether it be sacred books, institutions of any kind, or simply social conventions. Instead, it proclaims the right of each individual to find their own path in conformity with their own individual needs53. Though Heelas and Woodhead say nothing about sport, one of the runners interviewed by Higdon offers a perfect example of the trends they identify. For her a « love’ of running had taken the place of her luke-warm adherence to the Jewish faith. « It is the first time in my life that I have ever believed in something unambivalently ». Whereas « traditional religion » meant « abandoning of power to something outside », « a belief in running, “the new religion”, is a belief in oneself, in one’s power, in one’s ability to improve, discipline and take control of one’s life »54.

« Football is my Religion »

36Any of these four lines of thinking could develop in conjunction with more traditional forms of religion. They could open the way to new conceptions of the sacred – to a religion or, in the more recently popular terminology, a spirituality, freed from older forms. And they could also open the way to an implicit or even an explicit secularity in which sport replaced older forms of faith and fulfilled most of their functions. Which of these possibilities became a reality varied across time and place.

  • 55 Charles Edwardes, « The New Football Mania », Nineteenth Century, 32 (1892), p. 622-32, as cited i (...)
  • 56 Arnold Bennett, The Card, London, Methuen, Centenary Edition, 2011, p. 287-303.

37However, one other version of « the religion of sport » should be mentioned – perhaps the most widespread. When anyone claims that sport is their religion, they most often mean that they are a devoted supporter of a football club. In this case its exponents make no claims to virtue, though they would take pride in their loyalty to their club. They wear the scarf or the shirt ; they faithfully attend away matches in far-flung parts of the country ; they have opinions on all of the current players and on the manager and the owner. Football fandom in England and Scotland goes back to around 1890 and has since spread to many other countries ; baseball fandom in the USA goes back to about the same time. From the later 19th century rises in real wages and reductions in working hours were providing new opportunities for men in the working and lower middle class. In Britain, for example, the growing practice of closing factories around the middle of the day on Saturday opened up Saturday afternoon as the principal time for playing or watching sport. In 1888 the Football League was formed and in 1892 a journalist was commenting on what he called « The New Football Mania ». He commented that in the industrial towns of central and northern England football had become « a passion and not merely a recreation »55. Already in the 1890s attacks on referees and sometimes on players of the visiting team were common. Football clubs were becoming the clearest embodiments of the identity of a town or of a local community within a larger city, star players were becoming local heroes, and though most fans were working class men and youths, mayors and members of parliament found it politically profitable to highlight their association with the local team. This point was taken up by the novelist, Arnold Bennett in The Card (1911), which is set in Bennett’s native Stoke-on-Trent. The hero, Denry Machin’s, ambition is to become the youngest ever mayor of the town, and he sees his chance when the local football team runs into financial difficulties and is threatened with closure. He is a businessman, with no previous interest in football, but he undertakes a crash course in learning about the game. He finds out that a star player, himself a native of Stoke but now playing for York, is on the transfer list. Machin pays the transfer fee and brings the player to Stoke, following which, the local team’s fortunes revive and Machin is rewarded by being elected mayor56.

  • 57 Alan Edge, Faith of Our Fathers, Edinburgh, Mainstream, 1999 [1st published 1997], p. 18, 157.
  • 58 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 204-5.

38The claim that football had become a new religion was mainly made by critics who thought the game had come to play an exaggerated role in many people’s lives. However, a book published in 1997 declared the author’s sporting faith more explicitly. The book, Faith of our Fathers (the title of a well-known Catholic hymn), drew an extended parallel between the author’s upbringing as a Catholic and as a Liverpool fan. The greatest moment in his life came in 1965 when in the same week Liverpool won the Football Association Cup for the first time and then defeated Inter Milan, who were world club champions. Liverpool fans, he said, felt truly blessed. He explored the « love » that he felt for his club and his reverence for the greatest figures in Liverpool history, notably Bill Shankly, manager in the 1960s and ‘70s57. Shankly was famous for the fact that when ask by a TV interviewer « Football is not a matter of life and death, is it ? » He replied, « No, it’s more important than that ». In a striking example of the sacredness of the club ground, after Shankly’s death in 1981 his ashes were scattered over the Liverpool ground, setting a trend which many others later followed. More recently baptisms and weddings have also been held at football grounds. In an interesting mixing of older and newer conceptions of the sacred, since the 1990s most of the leading clubs have had a chaplain and he or she will often perform these ceremonies58.

39Football fanaticism can take quite extreme forms. I remember seeing a TV documentary with the title « Is Football a Religion ? » One of the fans interviewed said that football had led to his divorce, as his wife had claimed that his devotion to Portsmouth Football Club was like having another woman in their marriage. You could see what she meant when the camera entered one of the rooms in his house which had been turned into a shrine, full of scarves and shirts, photos of the Portsmouth ground and of famous players, and press reports of notable victories.

Sport and Secularisation

  • 59 Ibid., p. 149-63, 221-3.

40Returning to the question of the relationship between secularisation and the rise of sport : as well as the more subtle challenges which I have discussed, sport presented religions with a more obvious challenge, namely competition for the use of time. Religion can make big claims on the time of the committed believer, and sport makes equally big claims on the committed player or fan. Britain, where Sabbatarian restrictions were unusually strong in the nineteenth century, provides a clear example. Already in the Victorian era, as Saturday became the main day for sport, Jews faced a dilemma. Was it possible to take part while being an observant Jew ? By the end of the nineteenth century Christians were beginning to face the same problem, as some private golf courses opened on Sundays, and Sunday also became a popular day for cycling, though municipal sports facilities continued to be closed on Sundays until after World War I or, in many cases, until during or after World War II. From the 1960s and more especially from the 1990s, competition for the use of time became more acute. Professional sport on Sundays was very rare before the 1960s and only became common in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Then in the ‘90s, the concentration of youth sport on Sundays not only made it difficult for youngsters to attend church, but also drew their parents, willingly or unwillingly, to accompanying them. Then the advent in 1992 of football’s Premier League and of Sky Sports meant that televised sport was spreading to every day of the year (Christmas Day alone being excepted) and any hour of the day when there might be a television audience. Those sportspeople who had a strong religious commitment would find ways of reconciling the two kinds of commitment and at least until the 1960s, or even a bit later, this was not too difficult for Christians, though Jews faced bigger problems. However, for less strongly committed church-goers, the pull of sport was likely to be irresistible59.

  • 60 Allen Guttmann, From Ritual to Record : The Nature of Modern Sports, 2nd edn. New York, Columbia U (...)

41In 1978 the American sports historian, Allen Guttmann, published an influential overview of Western sports history from the ancient Olympics to the present day. His thesis was neatly summarised in his title, From Ritual to Record : the Greek Olympics were held in honour of Zeus, but the modern Olympics are all about national prestige and the individual pursuit of records. In other words, sport began by being an aspect of religion, but is now thoroughly secular. Indeed, in his scheme of the seven ways in which sport has changed over the past millennia, secularisation is given pride of place60. Although, as I have suggested, the rise of sport has in some ways contributed to secularisation, the relationship between religion and sport in the modern world has been more complex and at times more intimate than Guttmann’s scheme allows.

  • 61 Hugh McLeod, « ”The Saving of the Body” : Sport at Church in England since 1850 », in Andrew Kloes(...)
  • 62 Joe D. Willis and Richard G. Wettan, « Religion and Sport in American : The Case for the Sports Ba (...)
  • 63 Miroslav Ponczek and Adam Fryc, « Catholic Popes and the Modern Sports Movement, from the Mid-Nine (...)
  • 64 http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/2000/apr-jun (accessed 20 April 2007).

42In spite of the element of competition built in to the relationship, and although there are many religious people who see sport as unimportant and sportspeople who regard religion as irrelevant to their lives, the relationship between religion and sport has frequently been friendly and even mutually supportive. Religions have often made use of sports, and sport has also been ready to use religion. As I have suggested, the very exalted view of the benefits of sport which is current to-day can be traced back to the school teachers, youth club managers, priests and preachers of the later 19th century who were evangelists for sport and other forms of physical recreation, believing them to be among God’s gifts to humanity, and one part (among many others) of the good life61. This was the message of William Manning, Episcopal Bishop of New York, who in 1926 decided to install a series of windows in his cathedral devoted to different areas of human achievement. These included such relatively uncontroversial themes as motherhood, medicine and music. But less expectedly he included a « Sports Bay », depicting baseball, rowing and other sports62. Successive Popes have given their blessing to sport in general or to specific events and locations, none more frequently or more enthusiastically than John Paul II63. Addressing participants in the Giro d’Italia in 2000, he warned against the abuses of sport, but went on to declare that « when sports are played in the right way, they are an extraordinary expression of a person’s best inner energies and of his ability to overcome difficulties, to set himself goals to be reached through sacrifice, generosity and determination in facing the difficulties of competition »64 .

  • 65 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 183-9.

43In Britain and Ireland the clearest embodiment of the mutually supportive relationship between the worlds of religion and of sport was for many years the « Sportsmen’s » or « Sportsmen’s and Sportswomen’s Services » held in churches of most Protestant denominations from the 1890s to the 1970s, reaching their peak in the 1930s. Members of local sporting organisations attended en masse, sporting paraphernalia would decorate the building, a famous footballer or cricketer would give the Bible readings, and the preacher would celebrate the value and importance of sport while emphasising the need for it to be played in a better spirit than often was the case. The popularity of such services was reflected in the fact that although the idea originated with some enterprising clergymen, the initiative later often came from the sporting organisations, which requested their continuation even during World War II65.

  • 66 Ibid., p. 236-41.

44Especially in the United States, but also in other countries too, there are many sporting stars who draw strength from their religion in their difficult profession. Some also see themselves as Christian or Muslim evangelists, using their sporting fame as a platform from which to proclaim their faith. In Britain the best-known example was the Olympic champion triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards, who frequently spoke about his Evangelical faith during his brilliant career, though ironically he would renounce his faith after his retirement, claiming that it had acted as the most powerful form of sports psychology. Another would be the England cricketer Moeen Ali, whose readiness to speak about his Muslim faith provoked the ire of one journalist who warned « You are playing for England, Moeen Ali, not for your religion »66 .

  • 67 J. Stuart Weir, « Sports Chaplaincy : A Global Overview », in Andrew Parker, Nick J. Watson and Jo (...)

45Not only individual athletes, but also managers and administrators are ready to make use of religion. Recognising the mental as well as physical toll of elite sport, sporting authorities have in recent years increasingly sought the assistance of religious professionals. The sports chaplaincy movement developed from the 1960s in the United States, first in American football, then in baseball, and later in basketball. In English football the first chaplain was appointed in the 1960s, but the movement grew much more slowly, before taking off in the 1990s. Now about three-quarters of the clubs in the Premier League have a chaplain. While all of these are Christians, of varying denominations, they recognise that players come from a very wide range of religious backgrounds, and that their job as chaplains is not to proselytise but to provide spiritual or moral support for all those who want it. Though independent of any particular religion, the Olympic movement is not anti-religious : since 1988 the organisers of the summer Olympics have provided teams of chaplains, and at London in 2012 there were 162 officially provided chaplains, representing five religions67.

Conclusion

46I have argued that in interpreting the secularising tendencies in 19th and 20th century Europe, as well as examining the impact of secularist movements or of impersonal processes of social change, we should also look at how movements which were not intrinsically irreligious, and which might even have begun with a religious rationale, could come over the course of time to take over many of the functions of religion, and could even come to be seen as offering a new form of salvation, superseding older forms. This is most obviously true of the emancipatory political movements which proliferated from the 1790s onwards. And, as Koenigsberger and Obelkevich have shown, music in particular, though perhaps the arts in general became a new religion for a middle-class public many of whom (especially in Germany and France, though less so in Britain) were distanced from their churches and synagogues and were looking for the sacred in new places. I am suggesting that the same could be true of sport.

  • 68 Robert Ellis, The Games People Play : Theology, Religion and Sport, Cambridge, Lutter-
    worth Press, (...)
  • 69 Sam Leith, « David Baddiel – Football fills a God-shaped Hole », Guardian, 18 March 2023.

47Sport as a « new religion », whether explicit, or more often implicit, has both strengths and limits. It is certainly the most important thing in many people’s lives, and when they say it is « their religion » that is often what they are saying. Support for a sporting club can also provide a powerful identity, and even those less partisan may rank the excitement and sometimes the beauty of a hard-fought sporting encounter among their most intense and memorable experiences. For participants it is necessarily all-absorbing. Sports, I have suggested, can offer forms of salvation, albeit of varying kinds. Football fandom offers a collective salvation shared with thousands of fellow-believers, experiencing together the joy of notable victories, the desolation of humiliating defeat, and a pride in their loyalty to the club even at times of repeated failure. A more individualised salvation is offered by the passion for running which started in the United States in the later 1960s and spread from there to other countries. The author and marathon-runner Jamie Doward described his « conversion » to running as a way out of the prolonged depression that had followed the death of his mother. It brought him « a sense of inner peace and a recalibration of our souls ». « Running is the secular equivalent of the Sunday service. The marathon is modernity’s equivalent of the medieval pilgrimage.68 » There are also others who have no religious or political faith and see sport as offering not salvation, but merely the best that their life has to offer - like the British comedian, David Baddiel, who says that he wants to believe in God, but since he cannot, Chelsea Football Club fills the resulting gap in his life69.

48On the other hand, by comparison with religions in the more conventional understandings of the term, there are many things which sport cannot do. To take only two examples, sport cannot offer explanations of why the world is as it is and how it might be changed for the better, and it cannot offer individuals guidance in dealing with the difficult choices which we all face. So, while there are many people who will happily declare sport to be their religion and some who behave as if sport is their religion, it is not surprising that there are also many others, who combine their enthusiasm for sport with religions of a more conventional kind.

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Notes

1 Alan D. Gilbert, The Making of Post-Christian Britain : A History of the Secularization of Modern Society, London, Longman, 1980.

2 Callum G. Brown, The Death of Christian Britain : Understanding Secularisation, 2nd edn., London, Routledge, 2009.

3 Ibid., Callum G. Brown, The Battle for Christian Britain : Sex, Humanists and Secularisation, 1945-1980, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

4 Gérard Cholvy and Yves-Marie Hilaire (eds.), Histoire religieuse de la France contemporaine, 1930-1988, Toulouse, Privat, 1988.

5 Steve Bruce, Religion in the Modern World : From Cathedrals to Cults, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996 ; Clive D. Field, Counting Religion in Britain 1970-2020 : Secularization in Statistical Context, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2021, and many other books by the same author.

6 Wolfgang Emmerich (ed.), Proletarische Lebensläufe, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1974, Rohwolt, I, p. 285, as quoted by Hugh McLeod, Secularisation in Western Europe 1848-1914, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2000, p. 151-2.

7 Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers, London, HarperCollins, 2005, IDEM., Sacred Causes, London, Harper Press, 2006.

8 Geoffrey Robson, « Working Class Evangelists in Early Victorian Birmingham », in Derek Baker (ed.), Religious Motivation : Biographical and Sociological Problems for the Church Historian, Oxford, Blackwell, 1978, p. 390.

9 Neil Johnson, Keir Hardie’s Creed : Faith in Socialism, Eugene OR, Wipf & Stock, 2023, p. 89.

10 Neil Johnson, The Labour Church : The Movement and its Message, London, Routledge, 2018, p. 28.

11 Gerd-Rainer Horn, The Spirit of Vatican II : Western European Progressive Catholicism in the Long Sixties, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 173-213.

12 Danièle Hervieu-Léger, De la mission à la protestation : L’Évolution des étudiants chrétiens, Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 1973, p. 106-21.

13 Hugh McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 146-51.

14 H.G. Koenigsberger, « Music and Religion in Modern European History », in J.H. Elliott and H.G. Koenigsberger (eds.), The Diversity of History, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970, p. 35-78 (here p. 38, 70-71, 73, 76-7).

15 Thomas Nipperdey, Religion im Umbruch, Munich, C.H. Beck, 1987, p. 142.

16 Frances Knight, Victorian Christianity at the Fin de Siècle : The Culture of English Religion in a Decadent Age, London, I.B. Tauris, 2016.

17 McLeod, Secularisation, p. 158, citing Arnold Horowitz, « Prussian State and Prussian Church in the Reign of Wilhelm II », Yale University PhD thesis, 1976, p. 218.

18 Jim Obelkevich, « Music and Religion in the Nineteenth Century », in Jim Obelkevich, Lyndal Roper and Raphael Samuel (eds.), Disciplines of Faith : Studies in Religion, Politics and Patriarchy, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987, p. 550-65 (here p. 562).

19 Ibid., p. 564-5.

20 Hugh McLeod, Religion and the Rise of Sport in England, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022, p. 17-28, 198-200.

21 Michael Krüger, Leibeserziehung im 19. Jahrhundert : Turnen fürs Vaterland, Schorndorf, Verlag Karl Hofmann, 2nd. edn., 2005.

22 Ibid., p. 66

23 Hugh McLeod, « Religion, Politics and Sport in Western Europe, c.1870-1939 », in Stewart J. Brown, Frances Knight and John Morgan-Guy (eds.), Religion, Identity and Conflict in Britain : From the Restoration to the Twentieth Century, Farnham, Ashgate, 2013, p. 195-212.

24 Pierre Arnaud (ed.), Les athlètes de la République : Gymnastique, sport et idéologie républicaine, 1870-1914, 2nd. edn., Paris, L’Harmattan, 1997.

25 Moshe Zimmerman, « Muscle Jews versus Nervous Jews », in Michael Brenner and Gideon Reuveni (eds.), Emancipation through Muscles : Jews and Sports in Europe, Lincoln NE, University of Nebraska Press, 2007, p. 13-26 ; Todd Samuel Presner, Muscular Judaism : The Jewish Body and the Politics of Regeneration, London, Routledge, 2010, p. 1-4.

26 Michael Cronin, Sport and Nationalism : Gaelic Games, Soccer and Irish Identity since 1884, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1999, p. 78-89 ; Paul Rouse, Sport and Ireland, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 210-12, 277-8.

27 Michael Krüger, Leibesübungen im 20. Jahrhundert. Sport für alle, 2nd edn., Schorndorf, Verlag Karl Hofmann, 2003, p. 188-206 ; Gerd Falkner, « Die Einführung des obligatorischen Sportsunterricht in der DDR im Jahre 1950 », Stadion, 37/1, 2011, p. 121-48.

28 Julia Braun, « ‘‘Jedermann an jedem Ort – einmal in der Woche Sport” : Triumph und Trugbild des DDR-Sports », in Thomas Grossbölting (ed.), Friedenstaat, Leseland, Sportnation ? DDR-Legenden auf dem Prüfstand, Berlin, Christoph Links, 2009, p. 177-95 ; Mike Dennis and Jonathan Grix, Sport under Communism : Behind the East German ‘‘Miracle’’, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

29 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 29-85.

30 Norman Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit : The Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature and Religious Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985.

31 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 52-5.

32 Malcolm Tozer, The Ideal of Manliness : The Legacy of Thring’s Uppingham, Truro, Sunnyrest Books, 2015 ; J.A. Mangan, Athleticism and the Victorian Public School, Lewes, Harvester Press, 1986

33 Malcolm Tozer, Physical Education at Thring’s Uppingham, Uppingham, Uppingham School, 1976, p. 26-30, 46, 57, 61-4, 82-6.

34 J.F.C. Harrison, A History of the Working Men’s College, 1854-1954, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954, p. 64-5, 132.

35 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 94-9, 101-3.

36 J.A. Mangan, The Games Ethic and Imperialism, Harmondsworth, Allen Lane Press, 1986, p. 174.

37 C.E. Tyndale-Biscoe, Building Character in Kashmir, London, Church Missionary Society, 1920, p. 13, 16-17.

38 Tozer, Uppingham, p. 140-43.

39 Tozer, Manliness, p. 260, 280.

40 John Lowerson, Sport and English Middle Classes, 1870-1914, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1993, p. 272.

41 Department for Media, Culture and Sport, Game Plan, with Foreword by Tony Blair, London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2002.

42 McLeod, 1960s, p. 204-5.

43 Laura Potter, ‘How to get your Kids into Sport for Life,’ Guardian, 9 July 2022.

44 John J. Macaloon, This Great Symbol : Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1981.

45 Pierre de Coubertin, Selected Writings, edited by Norbert Müller, English translation, Lausanne, International Olympic Committee, 2000, p. 580-83.

46 T.R. Wright, The Religion of Humanity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986 ; Todd H. Weir, Secularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany : The Rise of the Fourth Confession, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

47 Barbara Keys, « The Ideals of Global Sport », in Id. (ed.), The Ideals of Global Sport : From Peace to Human Rights, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019, p. 1-17 (here p. 5).

48 Guardian, 5 July 2017.

49 Keys, op. cit., p. 1.

50 Hal Higdon, « Is Running a Religious Experience ? », in Shirl J. Hoffman (ed.), Sport and Religion, Champaign IL, Human Kinetics Books, 1992, p. 77-81.

51 Jürgen Martschukat, The Age of Fitness, English translation, Cambridge, Polity, 2021 [published in Germany, 2019], p. 7-35.

52 Guillaume Cuchet, Le catholicisme a-t-il encore de l’avenir en France ? Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 2021, p. 86.

53 Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead, The Spiritual Revolution : Why Religion is giving way to Spirituality, Oxford, Blackwell, 2005, p. 3-4.

54 Higdon, op.cit., p. 79.

55 Charles Edwardes, « The New Football Mania », Nineteenth Century, 32 (1892), p. 622-32, as cited in McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 202-3.

56 Arnold Bennett, The Card, London, Methuen, Centenary Edition, 2011, p. 287-303.

57 Alan Edge, Faith of Our Fathers, Edinburgh, Mainstream, 1999 [1st published 1997], p. 18, 157.

58 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 204-5.

59 Ibid., p. 149-63, 221-3.

60 Allen Guttmann, From Ritual to Record : The Nature of Modern Sports, 2nd edn. New York, Columbia University Press, 2004, p. 17-26, 54-5.

61 Hugh McLeod, « ”The Saving of the Body” : Sport at Church in England since 1850 », in Andrew Kloes and Laura Mair (eds.), Modern Social Christianity in Scottish and Comparative Perspective : Essays in Honour of Stewart J. Brown, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming).

62 Joe D. Willis and Richard G. Wettan, « Religion and Sport in American : The Case for the Sports Bay in the Cathedral of St John the Divine », Journal of Sport History, 4/2 (1977), p. 189-207.

63 Miroslav Ponczek and Adam Fryc, « Catholic Popes and the Modern Sports Movement, from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Beginnings of the Third Millennium », Journal of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management, I (2013), p. 111-20.

64 http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/2000/apr-jun (accessed 20 April 2007).

65 McLeod, Rise of Sport, p. 183-9.

66 Ibid., p. 236-41.

67 J. Stuart Weir, « Sports Chaplaincy : A Global Overview », in Andrew Parker, Nick J. Watson and John B. White, Sports Chaplaincy : Trends, Issues and Debates, London, Routledge, 2016, p. 9-19 ; Duncan Green, « Sports Chaplaincy at the Olympics and Paralympics : Reflections on London 2012 », in ibid., p. 55-67.

68 Robert Ellis, The Games People Play : Theology, Religion and Sport, Cambridge, Lutter-
worth Press, 2014, p. 173-5.

69 Sam Leith, « David Baddiel – Football fills a God-shaped Hole », Guardian, 18 March 2023.

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Hugh McLeod, « New Paths to Salvation in 19th and 20th Century Europe »Chrétiens et sociétés, 30 | 2023, 165-189.

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Hugh McLeod, « New Paths to Salvation in 19th and 20th Century Europe »Chrétiens et sociétés [En ligne], 30 | 2023, mis en ligne le 28 mars 2024, consulté le 29 mai 2024. URL : http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/chretienssocietes/10384 ; DOI : https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/chretienssocietes.10384

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Hugh McLeod

University of Birmingham, UK

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