There was a profound paradigm-shift in British culture in the 1950s and 1960s. My articles argue that a real understanding of this period requires us to historicize this shift, rather than simply accepting the new paradigm’s categories and assumptions.
‘Notes Toward a Postsecular History of Modern British Secularization‘, Journal of British Studies 60 (April 2021), 310-333.
This is a position-piece that argues that the analytical framework currently used by the British secularization debate is a secular-ideological legacy of the 1960s, and that we need a new postsecular framework for understanding ‘secularization’ if we want to understand the phenomenon properly.
‘”Christian Civilisation”, “Modern Secularisation”, and the Revolutionary Re-imagination of British Modernity, 1954-1965′, Contemporary British History 34,4 (2020), 603-628.
This is a first attempt to historicize the 1960s ideology of modernity, which still implicitly structures most histories of post-1945 Britain written today, especially ‘religious’ history. It argues that the Cold War crises of the 1950s and early 1960s, which brought Britain to the brink of thermonuclear extinction, triggered the invention of a radical new ideology of modernity, which had profound consequences for secularization ideology.
This is a shorter piece, written for a special issue of Society honouring the late great sociologist David Martin. It argues that Martin’s early work contains unmissable insights for today’s secularization debates.
‘Christianity and the Invention of the Sexual Revolution in Britain, 1963-1967’, Historical Journal 60,2 (2017), 519-546.
This position-piece argues that the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s was actually a media construct, partly invented by Christians, which then directly created the real sexual revolution of the 1970s.
‘From Religion to Revolution: Theologies of Secularisation in the British Student Christian Movement, 1963–1973’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 66,4 (2015), 792-811.
This early article offered a focussed look at the Student Christian Movement. During the 1950s the SCM was Britain’s largest student religious body (and one of Britain’s largest student bodies full stop), but in the early 1960s it embarked on a series of rapid political radicalizations that ultimately led to its near-collapse. I argued that these changes were primarily driven by the organisation’s embrace of secularisation theologies, rather than being a natural or inevitable consequence of wider social trends.
‘The Invention of a “Secular Society”? Christianity and the Sudden Appearance of Secularization Discourses in the British National Media, 1961–4’, Twentieth Century British History 24,3 (2013), 327-350. (Winner of the 2012 Duncan Tanner Prize)
My first article, almost all of which was written in an exhausted haze in the first two weeks of October 2012. It argued that the sudden upsurge of secularization ideology in early 1960s Britain was chiefly caused by Christians, and itself played a major role in the so-called ‘religious crisis’ of the 1960s.