a1 University of Oregon
In the history of Protestant Christianity, sectarian movements have often served to bridge the gulfs which have opened between conventional forms of religious life and new secular aspirations among the lower classes. The emergence of the Labor Church movement in England during the closing decade of the last century may be seen in part as an attempt at such a reconciliation. For it was dedicated to the idea that the emancipation of the working classes from capitalism was a religious movement, that the improvement of social conditions was as important as the development of personal character. And yet its leader, John Trevor, repudiated the dogmatic implications of the sectidea and viewed the Labor Church as a search for a truly free religion. In fact it quickly severed all ties with the traditional faith and embarked on a quest for radically new religious meaning.