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Bewildered with a variety of opinions: Religion and the State in Upper Canada, 1791-1854 Scott McLaren Humanities & Religious Studies Librarian PhD candidate,

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Presentation on theme: "Bewildered with a variety of opinions: Religion and the State in Upper Canada, 1791-1854 Scott McLaren Humanities & Religious Studies Librarian PhD candidate,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bewildered with a variety of opinions: Religion and the State in Upper Canada, Scott McLaren Humanities & Religious Studies Librarian PhD candidate, Book History and Print Culture

2 British North American Colonies

3 Map of Upper Canada 1800

4 Church Establishment Symbiotic relationship between church and state where each shores up the others interests Britain’s established churches: Church of England and Church of Scotland What could the state give the church? What could the church give the state? William Warburton (1748) and the doctrine of “public utility” William Paley (1783) and the exclusively religious role of the church

5 Revolutionary War Church of England established in the middle colonies and Congregationalists in the New England colonies 1 st Amendment (1791): Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

6 Methodist Episcopal Church Christmas Conference (1784) Travelling preachers Arminian theology and republicanism Revivalism and religious competition

7 John Graves Simcoe “Every establishment of Church and State that upholds the distinction of ranks and lessens the undue weight of the democratic influence, ought to be introduced” “I have always been extremely anxious, both from political as well as more worthy motives that the Church of England should be essentially established in Upper Canada”

8 Preventing a second revolution Constitutional Act (1791) and the formation of “Clergy Reserves” for the “maintenance of a Protestant clergy” Jacob Mountain appointed first British North American bishop in 1793 Simcoe’s Marriage Act of 1793 restricts the solemnization of marriage to Church of England clergymen Simcoe sets aside land in principle towns and helps to pay for the construction of churches

9 Methodism in Upper Canada William Losee appointed to form a preaching circuit outside Kingston in 1791 The “Canada Fire” and the introduction of camp meeting revivalism m/journals/1805sep28.ht m m/journals/1805sep28.ht m

10 Anglican response “The Methodists are making great progress among us and filling the country with the most deplorable fanaticism. You can have almost no conception of their excesses. They will bawl twenty of them at once, tumble on the ground, laugh, sing, jump, and stamp” John Strachan, 1806

11 Postwar developments Strachan becomes a member of the Executive and Legislative councils and gains the complete confidence of L-G Sir Peregrine Maitland ( ) Methodists continue to make massive advances and form their own conference in 1824 Anglican fortunes do not rally in spite of additional clergy and SPG grants Strachan continues to be unable to establish a university controlled by the Church of England

12 Upping the ante… Mountain’s episcopal charge in July 1820 calls Methodists  “self-appointed Teachers”  who “proceed from error to error”  who are “extravagantly enthusiastic”  who cause “mischief” through their “ignorance and folly” Strachan’s 1825 eulogy for Mountain calls Methodists  “[…] uneducated itinerant preachers who, leaving their steady employment, betake themselves to preach the Gospel from idleness or a zeal without knowledge, by which they are induced, without any preparation, to teach what they do not know, and what from their pride they disdain to learn”

13 Egerton Ryerson “Received on trial” in 1825 Son of a U.E.L. settler Educated in the province’s state-supported grammar schools Familiar with William Paley and Blackstone’s commentaries A fervent and articulate proponent of revivalism and the possibility of immediate conversion

14 Contesting in the public sphere What is the public sphere?  A space where anyone can voluntarily participate  Separate from the influence and control of the state  Transforms publishing from a merely public activity into that space where the reading public adjudicates disputes on the basis of rational argument  Emphasis on Kantian rationality to the total exclusion of other factors attendant on personal modes of communication such as rank and status  See Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

15 Religion and the public sphere Church of England  Emphasis on rationality  Reluctant to sever its concerns and welfare from the state  Antidemocratic views oppose taking a reading public as impersonal adjudicators Methodism  Emphasis on egalitarianism and voluntarism

16 Christian Guardian Egerton Ryerson elected first editor in 1829 Quickly becomes the highest circulating weekly in Upper Canada with subscribers within and without Methodism Serves as a platform to attack Strachan and the advocates of church establishment

17 Clergy Reserves Land, land, land: the problem of free land Lease or sell? Obstacle to infrastructure The Church of Scotland and the meaning of “Protestant Clergy”

18 British Wesleyans Merger in 1833 to resituate Methodism as a loyal religious movement Continual conflict with Wesleyans over political use of Christian Guardian Collapse of union in 1840 Changes in Britain alter Wesleyan position Reunified in 1847 Clergy Reserves secularized in 1854

19 Protestant Consensus Church of England drops its pretensions to establishment (Strachan dies in 1867) Methodism become more moderate—less emphasis on revivalism, decline of camp meetings, formal educational standards for ministerial candidates Ryerson becomes Chief Superintendent of Education in 1844 Normal School in St James Square established in 1847 to educate teachers—eventually evolves into the ROM and Ryerson University.


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