‘I was following the lead of Jesus Christ’: Christian Anti-Fascism in 1930s England

  • Tom Lawson


Religion has recently re-emerged from the shadow cast by the idea that the history of modernity and post-modernity could only be sought in secular terms. There has been a flurry of publications reasserting the centrality of religion, especially Christianity, in twentieth-century Britain.1 The study of political extremism has also been reinvigorated using the concept of ‘political religion’.2 However the role of Christians and their churches in the history of British political extremism, both in terms of support and opposition, remains — despite notable exceptions — underexplored.3 This chapter attempts to fill a small part of that gap by exploring Christian anti-fascism in Britain. In doing so it will further assert the importance of Christian discourse in the history of modern Britain by demonstrating that Christians — especially the Church of England — provided both a language of opposition to fascism and inspired anti-fascist action. But it will also be noted how Christian faith could also underpin fascist politics too. I will thus seek also to problematise the history of anti-fascism by exploring its discursive basis in order to demonstrate how far fascism and anti-fascism could share a vocabulary. As such the history of Christian anti-fascism might occasion some recasting of the binary opposition between fascism and anti-fascism which has characterised historiography thus far.


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© Tom Lawson 2010

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  • Tom Lawson

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