Salem Bland and the social gospel in Canada
Allen, Alexander Richard
This study was initially to be an examination of the idea of history in the social gospel in Canada. The paucity of material was prohibitive, however, and led to an attempt to remove that obstacle to some degree. Further, a survey of English-Canadian historiography revealed that while there has been much acknowledgement of the involvement of religion in Canadian social and political development, there has been, especially for the twentieth century, almost no study of the religious dimension of social and political movements. Canadian historiography seems to have heard only the echoes of the great discussion of the dialectic of religion and culture which after the turn of the century cast up such names as Weber, Troeltsch, Tawney, the Niebuhrs and Dawson. Such efforts as have been undertaken seem to have taken their starting points in the "frontier theory" and the early tentative statements of Weber and H. R. Niebuhr. Probably the most significant formative movement in this field in twentieth century Canada has been the social gospel. Although its name is little known, and although it could never claim the allegiance of a majority of Canadian protestants, it exercised an increasing influence from the turn of the century on. It became the unofficial religious expression of the Grain Grower's Associations; it gave the original impetus to the development of social welfare programs; it provided a major, if not the paramount, element in the ideology of the CCF; and it has been a strong influence in the formation of a public opinion hospitable to the development of a social welfare state and a mixed economy. These are large claims, and the greater part of the story has yet to be told. This thesis is but a chapter in it.