THE HOLY WAR

Religion played an important role in Home Front life, but war also presented churches and the clergy with tough challenges

During World War Two, Britain’s churches offered spiritual solace to the nation, just as they always had. However, being an organisation based on the principles of peace, this era of conflict provided many challenges and even controversy for churches and their congregations.

The relationship between the church and the state could be viewed as uneven: the Church of England had long been there as the spiritual wing of the establishment, but the state engaged with religion at certain times more than others – notably during World War Two. One of the early National al Savings posters pictured a Union flag with a burning crucifix tied to it, accompanied by the slogan “Join the Crusade – Buy National Savings Certificates.”

The relationship was fairly similar with the congregations. Sparsely visited churches suddenly saw an increase in attendees in the early days of the war, particularly during National Days of Prayer, such as May 26, 1940, when the British army was encircled at Dunkirk. Likewise, following the wholesale evacuation of sections of the populace, some remote country parishes suddenly saw busy Sundays, further bolstered by service personnel on church parades.

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