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date: 04 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines the evolution and growth of the secular movement in nineteenth-century England. It traces the different strands of atheist and agnostic thought and shows how these were galvanized and lead by a succession of leaders with different aptitudes and ideological agendas. Carlile inherited the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution whilst George Jacob Holyoake and Charles Bradlaugh made it a more respectable indigenous movement which nonetheless offered a home for species of radical religious thought throughout the second half of the century. The essay also investigates the ideological undercurrents that exerted influence upon the movement and individuals within it alongside the campaigns which motivated and demanded sustained action from both of these.

Keywords: atheist, secular movement, Bradlaugh, Holyoake, Carlile, radical, anti-clericalism, agnostic, ideological

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