With God in the workplace: industrial chaplains in Scottish heavy industry, 1970s-1990

Ronald Johnston, Elaine W. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws on a series of interviews with retired industrial chaplains and those involved with industrial mission in the Scottish workplace. Initially intended in the early 1950s to be part of the Kirk’s efforts to take religion into the workplace and halt a slide in faith, the Scottish Churches’ Industrial Mission was by the mid-1960s more of a ‘showing the flag’ exercise than a mission in the sense of saving workers’ souls. Nevertheless, the industrial chaplains operating across Scottish industry at this time were an important and neglected religious presence in Scottish society during a period characterised by rapid secularisation. This remained the case into the 1990s. The main argument here is that this general acceptance of the industrial chaplains by workers in heavy industry presents further evidence that declining church membership did not accurately reflect declining religious belief.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalOral History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • religion
  • Scottish history
  • workplace
  • industry


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