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2. Religion & civil society in Britain and the English-speaking world – What’s the English for “laïcité”? / Religion et société en Grande-Bretagne et dans le monde anglophone – Comment dit-on « laïcité » en anglais ?
III. La religion modérée par l’Etat / When the State sets limits to religion

John Clifford, Militant Evangelicals, and the Colonial Model for ‘Secular’ Schools (1870s-1920s)

Geraldine VAUGHAN


À l’époque de l’avènement de l’instruction primaire obligatoire dans l’ensemble du monde britannique, le pasteur baptiste John Clifford, ainsi que d'autres militants évangéliques, plaident en faveur d’une éducation « laïque » (secular) financée par l’État. Pour ces derniers, l’instruction « laïque » comprend nécessairement un enseignement moral et religieux non-confessionnel, fondé avant tout sur une vision protestante de la Bible. En la matière, Clifford et les associations évangéliques trouvent dans les Dominions un modèle pour la création d’écoles publiques « laïques ». Cet article explore donc les arguments avancés par les évangéliques impérialistes qui défendent une vision du citoyen britannique (en métropole et dans les colonies) idéal – un homme libre, formé dans des écoles publiques dans un esprit protestant, et qui garantirait la perpétuation de la « race impériale ». Face à eux sévit l’adversaire catholique, qui érige ses propres écoles confessionnelles et exige une aide financière publique. Après avoir exploré les significations du terme secular education dans les Dominions, cet article examine les luttes entre militants évangéliques et catholiques sur le financement étatique des écoles confessionnelles. Enfin, cette étude considère la crise scolaire dans la colonie canadienne de Manitoba (1891-1897), afin de comprendre ce qui est à l’œuvre dans les tensions entre groupes religieux militants, Églises et État.

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1In 1911, the American historian David S. Muzzey, writing on the issue of State, Church and education in modern-day France, wrote that, ‘… education in every land and every epoch is but the expression, like every public activity, of the social ideal of that land and epoch… The moral ideal of a community, whether it be to form saints or to train soldiers, to make scholars or to produce millionaires, will be reflected in the curricula of schools’ (Muzzey 180-1). In the early decades of compulsory primary education, his thoughts reflected the crucial agency of schools in the training of future citizens. Furthermore, at a time of growing secularization, Muzzey investigated in what ways Churches and State competed and/or collaborated on the issue of public education.

2Schooling offers a perfect area of investigation for exploring the questions surrounding religion and State in the public sphere. Competition between Secularists, religious actors and non-denominational enthusiasts was fierce at the time of the institution of mandatory primary education in the Anglophone world. The perspective adopted in this article is that of militant Evangelical views, with a focus on the writings of the Baptist minister and Liberal activist John Clifford (1836-1923) who published in 1898 God’s Greater Britain. This opus was a collection of letters sent to the editor of The Christian World Magazine after a seventh-month tour of the globe in 1897. Written in order to ‘foster the interest of Britishers in each other, and bind in closer union the farsundered members of our vast empire,’ the book tackled the issue of religion, empire and education (Clifford preface). The son of Derbyshire labourers, himself a factory worker at the age of eleven, Clifford was a self-taught pastor, educational campaigner, and well-known figure in Evangelical and Non-Conformist circles. He stood in favour of instructing the poor and supported the implementation of free public education (Clifford, 49) yet he opposed State support for denominational schools (Bernstein 25). Accordingly, in 1893-94, he fought against the imposition of religious tests on teachers by the London School Board. He pursued his militant career by leading a passive resistance crusade against the 1902 Education (England) Act which extended rate aid to denominational schools. His lifelong fight against State-funded denominational schools stemmed from his profound theological belief in the separation between State and Church. Clifford acted as a non-Conformist champion who served as president of the Baptist Union (1898-1899), chairman of the National Council of Evangelical Free Churches (1898), and later leader of the Baptist World Alliance (1905-1911) (Honeycutt 81; Bernstein 32).

3Clifford was by no means a lone warrior – many Non-Conformists and Evangelicals shared his educational views and instigated campaigns in favour of undenominational public education in Britain and its Dominions. Such was the case with the Imperial Protestant Federation (IPF), founded in 1898 London by an Evangelical Anglican organiser, Walter Walsh. This umbrella organisation federated ultra-Protestant sects and clubs: by 1906, the IPF claimed 57 affiliated associations across the British world and 1.6 million members on its register (Wolffe 49-50). The IPF included for instance the Calvinistic Protestant Union, the Scottish Protestant Alliance, the Women’s Protestant Union, the (Canada) Protestant Protective Association, the Australian Protestant Defence Association (1902), together with Orange lodges across Britain and its colonies. These bodies shared a broad Evangelical definition of Protestantism and defended the notion that religious beliefs and their political implications formed the basis of a common British heritage and identity (Vaughan Britishers 361-2). Those militant Evangelical bodies communicated by way of public meetings, lectures, special services, and circulated tracts, pamphlets, books and newspapers.

4Clifford and Evangelical militants held clear-cut views on the principle of ‘secular’ public education. As did the bulk of their contemporaries, they also held that ‘secular’ did not mean ‘godless’ but rather embraced a broad (Evangelical) Protestant ethos. For that reason, they were ready to fight partisans of State support for denominational schools, even if it meant forging alliances with determined Secularists who opposed the mere principle of religious instruction. In addition, the Evangelical activists’ thoughts on the issue went far beyond the borders of Britain to embrace the colonial world. What Clifford told a Colonial Missionary Society audience in May 1898 was of role that ‘[c]olonies [had] played and [were] destined to play in the thought and activities of Greater Britain, and in the advance of the civilisation of the world’ (Clifford 170). In sum, the Evangelical secular educational project was an imperial scheme, and its proponents were convinced that the Dominions could impart lessons to the metropole. Clifford had obviously read John Robert Seeley’s best-selling opus The Expansion of England (1883) for he borrowed the latter’s expression in one of his letters: the empire had been established ‘in a fit of absence of mind’ (Clifford 174). This absent-mindedness of Britons was to be transformed into acute imperial consciousness, for Clifford was convinced that the empire was providentially bestowed on the Britons: ‘[a] further debt we owe to the colonies is that of recognising their place in the plan of God’s administration of His kingdom… and that at present we are as indispensable to the process of filling and replenishing the earth as we are supreme’ (Clifford 174). Historian Hilary Carey has summarized this Evangelical imperial project: ‘religion also played a significant role in shaping the idea of greater Britain, a settler realm without an established Church, but with a Christian ethos’ (Carey 39).

5Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to explore the battles waged by Clifford and other Evangelical enthusiasts for secular education in Britain and its Dominions, from the progressive enactment of compulsory primary education in the 1860s up to the 1920s. First, I will investigate the meanings of the term ‘secular’ and study examples of public schooling in the Dominions. Second, I will consider whom militant Evangelicals were up against, namely the partisans of State-supported denominational education who happened to be mostly Roman Catholics. Finally, I shall delve into the Manitoba School Issue as a case study of the battle between militant Evangelicals and Roman Catholics over the matter of public education.

Defining ‘Secular’ Education – the Colonial Example

  • 1 The French historian Élie Halévy, author of the acclaimed History of the English People in the Nine (...)

6‘Secular’ education was understood by most Britons to be characterised by two key features. First, a ‘secular’ education was an education which included a strong moral and ethical dimension. Second, ‘secular’ meant non-religious in the sense that it was supposed to be undenominational. Hence, the adjective ‘secular’ did not signify the suppression of all religious instruction but the imparting of an unsectarian/broad (Protestant) religious education.1 For Evangelical militants, secular education meant State-funded schooling designed to train future British citizens in biblical knowledge and ethics. The Bible and citizenship were intimately connected, for as Clifford argued, the former ‘was one of the best instruments the State possesses for building up the Commonwealth’, for ‘it [was] a book for the human race; a citizen’s book, wholly without any sectarian bias; greater than all the creeds and all the theologies’ (Clifford 56). For advocates of the strict separation between Church and State, public education presented a unique opportunity to appeal to the benevolence of the State and do away with the Churches’ centuries-old monopoly on education. This pertained to the notion of ‘civic Protestantism’, as demonstrated by the Australian historian Richard Ely (Ely 384). The latter described the emergence of a ‘civic Protestant mentality’ which connected ‘good citizenship’ (and patriotism) with a secular and spiritual education.

7The British State had already experimented forms of ‘neutral’ public education beforehand as was the case in Ireland from 1831 with the implementation of ‘national schools’ controlled by a mixed-denomination Central Board. By 1870, around 6,800 schools were part of the project, with one million children enrolled. The definition of ‘secular’ instruction in those schools was analysed by historian Donald Akenson as follows: ‘[l]iterary instruction, it should be emphasized, was not a synonym for ‘secular’ learning; it meant all forms of literary material and moral education, excluding only those matters likely to raise denominational scruples’ (Akenson 97). An ‘inviolable’ line had been drawn between literary subjects and religious instruction – catechism was to be taught by Protestant or Catholic clergy after school hours or on a special day during the week. However, by the late nineteenth century, the majority of national schools had gone back to being denominational schools. Yet, despite the Irish experiment in public ‘neutral’ education being quite short-lived, its success lay in the national school textbooks published by the School commissioners, which were of sound quality and cheap, and thus widely used in English public schools and throughout the colonies. In New South Wales, Governor Richard Bourke had projected in 1835 to install a system of national education modelled after the Irish National Schools (Akenson 187). He admired the general philosophy of the Irish State schooling system as a combination of ‘ordinary’ instruction and ‘non-controversial’ Bible studying – with extracts from the Authorised (Protestant) and the Douay (Catholic) versions (Fogarty 29).

8The colonial experiment was central to Clifford’s definition of separation between Church and State on the schooling issue. He admired the Dominions’ democratic principles, which, according to him, were rooted in their profound rejection of a ‘priestly class’ (Clifford 32). To him, ‘[t]he colonies [were] free from Churches established, endowed and controlled by Parliament. They [had] lifted the conception of the Church into the bracing atmosphere of the New Testament’ (Clifford 145). The enemy of faith, reason and liberty was clericalism, and in God’s Greater Britain, he offered examples of State schooling in the colonies, especially in Australia. His view on the public education system in Tasmania was that, ‘it [was] called “secular”, but it [was] Biblical’ (Clifford 46). In Queensland, the schools were deemed ‘secular’, yet he thought the system to be ‘penetratingly religious’ (Clifford 46). To reflect further on schooling in the Australian colonies, the example of the 1875 Victoria Education Act can be assessed. The latter drew a strict line between denominational religious instruction (which could not take place in the schools) and separate times for a swift non-sectarian reading of the Bible either in its Douay or Authorized version:

9. In every public school four and a-half hours at least shall be set apart during each school-day for secular instruction only; and such schools may open in the morning: a quarter of an hour at least before the time fixed for such secular instruction to commence, for the purpose of reading portions of the Holy Scriptures in the authorised or Douay version. The attendance of children at such reading shall not be compulsory, and no sectarian or denominational religious teaching shall be allowed in any school.2

  • 3 An Act to make more adequate provision for Public Education, 16th April, 1880. In http://www.austli (...)

9Thus, article 9 highlighted the strict separation between denominational and ‘secular’ instruction, added to the fact that in practical terms, children whose parents objected to religious instruction could be sent a quarter of an hour later in the mornings. Furthermore, the religious instruction offered was non-sectarian, based either on the official Protestant or Roman Catholic versions of the Bible. On paper at least, public schools in Victoria were purely ‘secular’ if set against the criteria defined by Evangelicals and militant Protestants. Again, the definition of secular education varied according to the colonial setting – in New South Wales, article 7 of the 1880 Education Act stated that, ‘[i]n all schools under this Act the teaching shall be strictly non-sectarian but the words ‘secular instruction’ shall be held to include general religious teaching as distinguished from dogmatic or polemical theology.’3 In this case, ‘secular’ was akin to a broad Protestant religious teaching which was explicitly designated as non-denominational.

10Accordingly, Clifford summarised the meaning of ‘secular education’ in the Dominions, which almost always included ‘a non-theological, non-dogmatic, non-credal, anti-sectarian method of using the contents of the Bible’ – i.e. training which included an ‘unsectarian’ amount of religious teaching (Clifford 52). His observations for the Canadian colonies paralleled the Antipodean case – he quoted the example of the Manitoba Public Schools which allowed religious exercises and teachings such as “‘Scripture reading,” the Lord’s Prayer, and benediction’ to take place before the closing hour in the afternoon (Clifford 54). In Ontario, provisions had been made for a common (public) school system in the 1850s, which included a clause for the establishing of Catholic or Protestant ‘separate schools’, funded by their supporting ratepayers. In that province, the 1871 School Act made elementary education compulsory and free for children up to the age of 12. The educational patchwork in the Canadas offered a variety of legal provisions for ‘common’ and private (denominational) schools that were guaranteed by the 1867 Constitution Act which transferred educational powers to the provinces. For instance, in Saskatchewan and Alberta there existed a separate-school system, along with the common non-sectarian public schools. Both the separate and the ‘non-sectarian’ public schools were administered by either a department or ministry of education with control over curriculum, teacher training, special programmes and inspection.

11Overall, the advent of compulsory primary education resulted in most denominational schools losing State support in the Dominions in the 1880s – although there were of course local variations. The educational system was reorganised with the State seizing control of central educational boards which paid the teachers’ salaries (Fogarty 72). Clifford and his Evangelical counterparts were thus keen to emphasize the modernity and advance of secular education in certain settler colonies. This was connected to the de facto separation between the colonial States and all Christian Churches – in the absence of a formal Established Church, denominational schooling (partly) funded by the local authorities was less pervasive than in the United Kingdom.

Fighting State-Supported Denominational Schools

12Clifford and militant Protestants identified denominational schools as the hotbeds of clericalism and thus launched campaigns against any form of public support towards them. The line of argument was both national and political – financing ‘separate’ schools meant endorsing a system which fostered division amongst the future adult subjects of Britain and its empire. For Clifford, ‘two vital liberal principles were involved: public money was being spent to support institutions over which the public had no control; and people were being forced to support (through the rates) the propagation of religious beliefs to which they were conscientiously opposed’ (Bernstein 25-26). In Ontario for instance, Catholics had a right to a separate system of primary schooling without a dual taxation obligation – i.e. paying for the public-school system and for the denominational system.

  • 4 English translation provided by The American Catholic Quarterly Review 23 (1898). See http://facult (...)

13Accordingly, partisans of the separation between State and Church firmly believed that an undenominational public system of education was key to the crafting of robust future citizens (in line with ‘muscular Christianity’ during the high noon of imperialism). Their main adversary was the Roman Catholic Church, which also had a definite opinion on the issue: education should be constantly infused with Roman Catholic teaching, and ‘secular’ education was considered as ‘godless.’ As the Catholic bishops in Australia bluntly phrased it in 1879, ‘education without Christianity is impossible: you may call it instruction, filling the mind with a certain quantity of secular knowledge, but you cannot dignify it with the name Education’ (O’Farrell 387). This was echoed later by Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Affari Vos (1897), in which a ‘godless’ secular education was defined as ‘a purely scientific education and with vague and superficial notions of virtue’ which would preclude that ‘Catholic children can leave school trained as the country desires and expects.’4 Roman Catholics, who were somehow akin in a way to their Evangelical counterparts, equated religious instruction with good citizenship, by stating that moral instruction should necessarily be spiritual – as the historian Muzzey pointed out: ‘[t]he theoretical reproach of the church against lay education [was] that it [was] impossible to inculcate any true system of morals without the sanction of religious revelation’ (Muzzey 259).

14Evangelical campaigners were thus faced with a powerful enemy – the Roman Catholic Church, a fierce fighter for State-funded denominational schools. The latter argued that since Catholic subjects were also ratepayers, they should get some public funds back to support their own separate system. In the colonies, Quebec was the place where the Catholic majority was most protected by virtue of the constitution. There, a dual-confession public education system prospered. The Canadian Orangeman and Evangelical leader W. H. G. Armstrong clearly linked the educational issue with the constitutional ‘tyranny’ of the Roman Catholic majority. The latter’s control of denominational schools testified to the fact that the Catholic Church ‘…arrogate[d] to herself many of the prerogatives and powers which belong only to the State’ (Armstrong 5).

  • 5 National Library of Australia, Loyalist League of Victoria, The Menace of the RC Schools. How Irish (...)
  • 6 Ibid., 35.

15Alongside the issue of public subsidies for denominational schools, the heart of the problem lay with what Evangelicals termed ‘separateness.’ According to them, separate religious schools, be they Roman Catholic or Anglican, could only lead to strife, division and to the erosion of patriotic feeling. ‘Barriers of race and religion,’ wrote Clifford ‘must not be put up by the State at the threshold of life. It is anti-social. It saturates life with antipathies and bitterness, and destroys the sense of a common citizenship’ (Clifford 71). The association between separateness and anti-Britishness was central to Evangelical arguments against denominational schools. In the Antipodes, the ‘aloofness’ of Catholic education was perceived as a threat to the emergence of a modern Australian-Briton citizenship. The Loyalist League of Victoria, a Protestant Evangelical association, published several pamphlets on the issue. In The Menace of Protestant Lethargy: Roman Catholics and the State (1920), the society assimilated the erection of denominational schools with patriotic disloyalty. Another booklet entitled The Menace of the Roman Catholic Schools. How Irish Rebels are Made (1920) accused Catholic schools of fostering disloyalty to Greater Britain. This resulted from ‘sectarian and anti-national’ teaching, hence ‘no citizen who [wanted] Australians to be a united people, loyal to each other and to the Empire, should, by the gift of money or the expression of sympathy do anything to encourage the building of Romanist schools.’5 On the contrary, they argued, if a secular State education had been secured for all from the start: ‘[t]here would have been less class, less sectarian bitterness, a more united nation, because the people would have known each other better.’6 The same arguments were advanced in the Canadian case. W. H. G. Armstrong came up with a feisty formulation in 1918: ‘[s]eparation results in ignorance, ignorance begets suspicion, and religious and race jealousies are the inevitable result’ – to which he added: ‘[t]he whole tendency of our separate educational system [was] to breed strife … avoiding the possibility of common national desires and aspirations…’ (Armstrong 76).

  • 7 National Library of Australia, Np273H673: History(?) Taught in Roman Catholic Schools in Queensland (...)

16The anti-separation argument was also connected to the teaching of history in Catholic schools. After World War One, and in the context of Irish partition, some ultra-Protestants grew convinced that Roman Catholic children were taught an Irish nationalist anti-Protestant vision of the past. For instance, the Australian Protestant Federation issued a pamphlet in which the author stated that Catholic history schoolbooks called John Knox the ‘ruffian of the Reformation’ and displayed an anti-English vision of Irish history.7 However, this vision of history teaching in Catholic schools in the British world, although it might have been true in rare cases, seems quite out of touch with reality. In the British case, there was no evidence of true bias – Catholic schools had to adopt a standard curriculum in order to be recipients of public funds and thus standards of primary teaching were fairly uniform across the country (Vaughan Distinctiveness 54-55). The Catholic response to accusations of separateness and the fostering of anti-national feelings was similar in all parts of the British World. The latter insisted they were forced to maintain separate schools because the State would not allow Churches to oversee the staffing and educational spirit of publicly funded institutes (O’Farrell 72-73).

The Manitoba Schools Case (1891-1897)

  • 8 Protestant Times, June 1898, 89.

17During the 1890s and the ensuing decades, the ‘Manitoba School Case’ became the common rallying point for militant Protestants, as it symbolized the fight against any educational constitutional gain for Roman Catholics. As such, the founding statement of the IPF, reported in the Protestant Times, claimed that one of its objects was to monitor the resolution of ‘the Manitoba School Question.’8 The facts went thus: in 1871, an ‘Act to Establish a System of Education in the Province of Manitoba’ had put in place a separate scheme of State-sponsored Catholic and Protestant denominational schools, akin to the arrangement which existed in Ontario. Yet, sustained pressure and campaigning from the Evangelical and secularist lobbies in the 1880s drove colonial authorities to redefine the system. The Reverend William Caven, of the Equal Rights Association, an ultra-Protestant lobby, argued that the maintenance of Separate (i.e. denominational) schools should be suppressed by virtue of the separation of Church and State which prevailed in the Canadian Confederation:

  • 9 Library and Archives of Canada, Mic. F. CC-4 no. 00521, Equal Rights. The Letters of the Rev. Willi (...)

...that a country such as ours must have liberty to deal with all questions which immediately affect the development of national life, and that, irrespective of the traditions and practice of the old lands … we must in our new country keep Church and State separate, refusing to bestow from the public exchequer endowments, or subventions, or gifts upon Churches…9

18Untiring militant Protestant pressure certainly contributed to the definite abolition of State support towards denominational schools in 1891. Subsequently, the withdrawal of public subsidies for denominational schools sparked off a crisis which lasted until 1896. There ensued a very complex legal battle which was fought in colonial and imperial justice courts. Although the Canadian Supreme Court had declared the law unconstitutional (1891), the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council, in other words the highest court in the British Empire, quashed the judgement of the Supreme Court. As can be seen in this case, the fights over secular and denominational education were constitutional issues per se, involving complex intertwining of Dominion and metropolitan actors.

19In 1896, the Laurier-Greenway settlement (named after the Canadian and Manitoba Premiers) permitted Catholics to reintegrate the public system by guaranteeing the Catholic minority separate hours of religious instruction outside of regular teaching hours, as well as the teaching of the French language. This was inscribed in the 1897 Law:

(3) Such religious teaching to take place between the hours of 3.30 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and to be conducted by any Christian clergyman (…)

(5) Where ten of the pupils in any school speak the French language (or any language other than English) as their native language, the teaching of such pupils shall be conducted in French (or such other language), and English upon the bilingual system.10

20The settlement did not satisfy militant Evangelicals – who deemed it too great a concession to the French-speaking Catholic population in Manitoba. It was also shunned by Catholics who wanted to reverse to the pre-1890 situation whereby denominational schools received funding via public rates (Miller 474-494). The Catholic reaction to the 1897 law was summarized by the highest authority – namely Leo XIII in his encyclical Affari Vos, published on 8 December 1897:

No doubt, the question at hand is one of the highest and most serious import: the decision arrived at seven years ago on the school question by the Legislature of the province of Manitoba. At the time of the union of their province with Canada, Catholics in Manitoba had secured the right to educate the youth in public schools that respected their beliefs; and yet this right the Legislature of Manitoba has now abolished by a most harmful law. For it cannot be permitted to our children to seek the benefits of education in schools that ignore the Catholic faith, or even openly combat it, and where their beliefs would be despised and its fundamental principles repudiated.11

21Thus, the Manitoba Educational fight contained the main ingredients of secular educational battles with the campaigning for abolition or withdrawal of public funds for Catholic schools, and the appeal to local, provincial and imperial authorities. The battle was waged on the grounds that Church and Education should be separated in favour of a broad Evangelical system of public education.

Conclusion: Secular Schools and Britishness in an Imperial Context

22The fights over the implementation of ‘secular’ public education, which should probably be renamed (Protestant) ‘unsectarian’ instruction, revealed both militant Evangelicals and Catholic visions of the relationship between the State and the Churches. Clifford, along with other campaigners, was convinced that the future of Britain and its Empire belonged to children whose instruction was Bible-based, transforming them into citizens free from any ecclesiastical and political tyranny. In other words, Clifford connected secular education and democratization, and found that the colonies were more advanced than the old metropole on that issue.

23Partisan Evangelical thinking on the issue equated State secular schooling and the development of a nationalist British sentiment. Whether they called themselves ‘Britons’ or ‘Britishers,’ Evangelicals were keen to foster a British imperialist identity which embraced both colonial and British-metropolitan dimensions. In other words, unsectarian Protestant schooling and Britishness were, for militant Evangelicals, the path to a prosperous, God-ordained British Empire. In God’s plan, the colonies offered an example to follow, as Clifford explained: ‘these colonial laboratories … [were] more English than we [were], more intensively devoted to the regal ideas and basic principles of our collective life than men in London or Glasgow, Cardiff or Dublin’ (Clifford 171). This was why Roman Catholic schools posed an ultimate threat to national imperial unity, for Catholic children were educated in the worship of a foreign sovereign (the Pope) and had distorted visions of Irish history. Overall, State education was a field in which Evangelical militants, on the one hand, and Catholics, on the other, expressed conflicting worldviews and visions of the British empire.

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1 The French historian Élie Halévy, author of the acclaimed History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century, himself a professed Secularist (‘laïque’) from a multi-denominational background, shared with his Fabian friend Graham Wallas his pessimism concerning the advent of true secular education in England in 1908: ‘How many school boards, before Mr. Balfour’s Act, had ever availed themselves of the opportunity given to them of doing away with religious teaching of all kinds, in schools? Not many, I dare say, if any? … I dare say Secularism – even optional Secularism– is doomed, in England’ (Halévy 399).

2 An Act to amend the Law Relating to Public Education, 12th October, 1875. See, accessed 28 February 2019. See C. Campbell, ‘Free, compulsory and secular Education Acts,’ Dictionary of Educational History in Australia and New Zealand (DEHANZ), 28 February 2001,, accessed 28 February 2019.

3 An Act to make more adequate provision for Public Education, 16th April, 1880. In, accessed 28 February 2019.

4 English translation provided by The American Catholic Quarterly Review 23 (1898). See, accessed 19 June 2019.

5 National Library of Australia, Loyalist League of Victoria, The Menace of the RC Schools. How Irish Rebels are made, Melbourne, 1920, 4.

6 Ibid., 35.

7 National Library of Australia, Np273H673: History(?) Taught in Roman Catholic Schools in Queensland. Extracts from Father Gilmour’s BIBLE HISTORY used un R.C. Schools Throughout Queensland, The Australian Protestant Federation, Melbourne, 193?, 4-6.

8 Protestant Times, June 1898, 89.

9 Library and Archives of Canada, Mic. F. CC-4 no. 00521, Equal Rights. The Letters of the Rev. William Caven, D.D. Public Letter of 29 April, 1890, 5.

10 Full text of the law can be consulted online:, accessed 11 July 2020.

11 The full English translation can be consulted online:, accessed 11 July 2020.

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Geraldine VAUGHAN, « John Clifford, Militant Evangelicals, and the Colonial Model for ‘Secular’ Schools (1870s-1920s) »E-rea [En ligne], 19.2 | 2022, mis en ligne le 15 juin 2022, consulté le 25 juin 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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Geraldine VAUGHAN

Geraldine Vaughan (Senior Lecturer, Université de Rouen (GRHis / Institut Universitaire de France) is a senior lecturer in British history at Rouen University. She studies late modern British and imperial religious identities – her forthcoming book Anti-Catholicism and British identities in Britain and its Dominions (1880s-1920s) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) explores ultra-Protestant militancy and issues associated with Britishness throughout Britain and its colonial world.

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