The Religious Climate of Victorian England Essay

2760 Words 12 Pages
By the turn of the 19th century, the Church of England grew into a dominant bureaucratic monster. Any account of English history shows how politics and religion became so interwoven that it is difficult to draw a clear line between these two forces. The two entities are largely one in the same; tyrannical in wealth and power. The elite strength possessed by the church of England coupled with the vast scope of this organization proved to be more of a detriment as the climate facilitated the growth of numerous internal problems. This, in turn, opened the opportunity for a variety of dissenting groups to mount a formidable uprising.

Pluralism and biblical disagreement among the clergy spread with the introduction of new scientific
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It became increasingly difficult to present a consistent and unified, official position on such controversial matters. These types of scandals resulted in denouncements, demands to recant, deposed officials, and numerous judicial hearings. Many High Church officials clung to the infallibility of the Bible but the damage was done and would obviously not cease. By 1870, intellectual skepticism spread to the point where "if any scholarly undergraduate at Oxford was a Christian or purposed going into the ministry, he was regarded as a freak" (Latourette 294).

Absenteeism and other related abuses by the appointed members of the Church rose in prevalence. There were no clerical pensions or provisions for sickness and so the only option, other than resigning and facing a life of poverty, was to get a leave of absence, which became a readily available option that included a continued salary. Yet, it was rarely the truly desperate who sought out this alternative.

A population of rich clergy who lived like worldly kings existed, while on the other end of the spectrum, a number of poorly paid officials did not make enough to survive. The leave of absence became a popular endeavor for the rich to take paid vacations and for the poor to pursue other careers in order to meet their daily living expenses. In 1831, for instance, "2,268 clergymen held two or more livings; in fact, of these, 352 held three livings, 57 held four and 3 held five" (Kitson