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This article unearths the little-remembered history of British fundamentalist organisations of the Cold War era. These bodies constituted the last embers of an organised movement in Britain: the British Evangelical Council after 1953; the English Consultative Committee and the British Council of Protestant Christian Churches from the mid-1950s; the Christian Bible Unity Fellowship in the 1960s; and the British and European Reformation Fellowship in the 1980s. Based on archival and published material, the article argues that these organisations tried to render US-style fundamentalism into a new Anglicised version, but that each failed due to confessional disagreements and personal rivalries.
Traditionally, the British reaction to the League of Nations has been narrated in terms of an almost uniform acceptance. British Churches, in particular, have been seen as among its most enthusiastic supporters and principal campaigners for its creation. In fact, a significant amount of debate over the League erupted in the Church of England and the Free Churches. In these debates, Christian Socialists emerged as passionate League enthusiasts and conservative premillenarians as equally passionate opponents. Throughout, many of the key church leaders who were publicly supportive of the League continued to harbour deep private reservations.
From the very beginning of the Cold War, fundamentalist Christian organizations in the United States were engaged in a strident polemical campaign against the modern ecumenical movement and its American supporters in the major mainline churches. Consistently, this movement and its Social Gospel supporters were perceived as allies or tools of the Soviet Union, or at the very least as unwitting co-conspirators in world revolutionary projects that posed a direct threat to US national security. In the late 1940s and the early 1950s, the American Council of Christian Churches and other key fundamentalist organizations of the era developed a set of key theological arguments about the perceived un-Americanism of said churches and their clergy. Later in the 1950s, the fundamentalists allied with others on the religious and political right to push for a series of Congressional and FBI investigations into perceived subversion as practised by these churches. While ultimately unsuccessful in terms of their originally stated goals, these prolonged fundamentalist campaigns became a crucial site for disseminating the faith-based conceptions of Americanism and un-Americanism that eventually cohered in the contemporary religious right. This paper will investigate the Cold War fundamentalist discourse on un-Americanism and subversion in an effort to illumine the contours of perceived religious otherness in this exceptionally religious nation.
Recent scholarship has argued that Cold War anticommunism was key among the tools with which conservative evangelicals in the United States negotiated their return to the mainstream of American public conversation. While useful, such renderings of the anticommunist leaven in the repoliticization of religious conservatives remain misleading as long as they remain pivoted on the small cadre of reputedly moderate new evangelical intellectuals. Entirely obscured in such portrayals is the agency of the militant separatist fundamentalists whose engagement with anticommunism was at once broader in scope, more systematic, organized and pervasive, and of significantly earlier lineage than that of their new evangelical rivals. The roots of the Christian Right do indeed lie in Cold War Christian anticommunism but the lines of influence stretch as much, if not more, from the fundamentalists gathered around the controversial pastor Carl McIntire and his American (and International) Council of Christian Churches as they do from the new evangelicals. A pivotal transitional figure who nurtured, renovated, and passed on to a new generation the anticollectivist public doctrines of the original fundamentalist movement. In his anticommunist work McIntire pioneered, as well, the faith-based mass demonstration and petition, the political use of Christian radio, and the lobbying of government officials that the later Christian Right perfected.
Far from being limited to conspiracist McCarthyism, American anticommunism always spanned the entire ideological spectrum. Recognizing this, in his classic studies of the initial Western reception of Bolshevism, Arno J. Mayer divided early anticommunists into mutually antagonistic “parties of order” and “parties of movement” and claimed that these two fought each other almost as much as they combatted the Bolsheviks themselves. Mayer's conceptualization spoke to a profoundly important dimension in Western anticommunism, both before and during the Cold War, in that it exposed a sort of civil war between Western liberals, conservatives and socialists in which each of these groups tended to define their ideological rivals as the allies, unconscious tools or prototypes of Soviet Bolshevism.
This article looks at a largely neglected aspect of nineteenth- and twentieth-century religio-political activism and public doctrine, the conservative politics of premillennialist Protestantism. It approaches this subject through a case study of the doctrines and activities of the Catholic Apostolic Church, a relatively small premillennialist and Pentecostal faith-community extant from the 1830s through to the mid-twentieth century. The translation of these doctrines into Conservative party politics by Henry Drummond MP and by the seventh and eighth dukes of Northumberland is given especial attention.
The emerging fundamentalist movement made its first foray into extra-ecclesiastical politics during the League of Nations controversy of 1919–20. Both of the two main wings of fundamentalism—dispensational premillennialists and conservative Calvinists—took part in this controversy because both of them regarded the proposed League as an important, inherently religious issue. Both kinds of fundamentalists opposed the League, and both used the ratification debate to articulate their own types of Christian anti-internationalism. In the process they lent much Christian rhetoric to the political opponents of the League, the “Irreconcilables,” who were interested in exploiting it for their ostensibly purely secular critiques. Despite the fundamentalists' success in preventing League ratification, the controversy made them acutely aware of the political power and appeal of their liberal Protestant rivals. These had exerted themselves on behalf of the League, imparted their own religious complexion to the pro-League argument, and, not least, had managed officially to enlist almost all denominations to their side.
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