The Church of Scotland's special commission on communism, 1949-1954: tackling 'Christianity's most serious competitor'

Elaine W. McFarland, Ronald Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article analyses the origins, aims and impact of the Church of Scotland's Special Commission on Communism, 1949-1954. The case study not only extends our understanding of Christianity's response to the Cold War, but also helps underline organised religion's complex engagement with modern secular society, which communism was believed to represent in an extreme form. Rather than an outburst of crude McCarthyism, the Commission's work actually underlines the limits of clerical anti-communism. The dominant issue for its members was not the political struggle between East and West, or the economic one between capitalism and communism, but a deeper conflict between the Christian and anti-Christian interpretation of life and the human personality. As a result the Commission saw its task as building a constructive Christian alternative to the conditions that had created communism, combining theology with a new 'Christian sociology'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-361
Number of pages25
JournalContemporary British History
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009

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Christianity
communism
Religious buildings
church
Economics
anti-communism
theology
Cold War
cold war
capitalist society
capitalism
religion
personality
sociology
outburst
Religion
interpretation
Church of Scotland
Communism
economics

Keywords

  • Church of Scotland
  • communism
  • 20th century history

Cite this

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The Church of Scotland's special commission on communism, 1949-1954: tackling 'Christianity's most serious competitor'. / McFarland, Elaine W.; Johnston, Ronald.

In: Contemporary British History, Vol. 23, No. 3, 01.09.2009, p. 337-361.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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