Stead on the Men and Religion Forward Movement

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The Men and Religion Forward Movement

W. T. Stead (The Review of Reviews, April, 1912)
Reprinted in Frederick Whyte, The Life of W. T. Stead, (London: Johnathan Cape, 1925), vol. II, pp. 312-313

A very remarkable religious movement has been in progress during the winter in America, which has attracted much too little attention in this country. For some time past it has been noted in the United States that the Churches are falling more and more into the hands of women. They say that on an average there are three women Church members to one male. To arrest this tendency and to restore the requisite masculine element to popular religion in the States, a syndicate was formed for the purpose of uniting evangelical Churches in America, and of combining efforts to bring men and boys into the Church. Women apparently are left out of the movement altogether. It began last Summer with a representative conference at Silver Bay, in the State of New York, which was attended by delegates from all parts of the Union. It was decided to hold a series of eight-day missions, having as their objective the reviving of the interest of men and boys in the work of the Church. The dominant idea of the promoters was to bring business methods into religion, and to work for the attainment of moral ends with the same energy, concentration and common-sense that are used in the making of a great fortune. Selected teams of speakers were sent to the various cities with the object of getting the Churches into line in the first case, and in the second case for the getting of the men and boys into the Churches. The objects of the Men and Religion Forward Movement are divided under seven different heads: — (1) Membership; (2) boys’ work; (3) Bible study; (4) evangelism; (5) social service; (6) home and foreign missions; (7) inter-Church work.

With the view of enthroning God in the conscience of man, they undertook a religious and sociological survey of the territory, and suggested no fewer than sixty charts which were to be made as the result of this exhaustive series of censuses. The department for social service naturally appeals most to the world at large. The Social Institute programme is very comprehensive. It appeals to our readers because it is an attempt to realize on a national scale the ideals of our old Civic Church, plus a distinctly evangelistic element which the Civic Church movement lacked. I am interested and surprised to find an almost entire absence of any allusion, direct or indirect to the fact of existence after death. The committee has been kind enough to ask me to address a meeting, held under their auspices, on the “World’s Peace,” in Carnegie Hall, New York, on April 21st, at which President Taft and others will be among the speakers. I expect to leave by the Titanic on April 10th, and hope I shall be back in London in May.