Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin, London, and New York, 1870-1914

By Hugh McLeod | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Religion in the City

COMPARISON BETWEEN BERLIN, London and New York at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century shows some striking differences in patterns of religious belief and practice, and in the part played by religious institutions in the life of the city. Thus it will be recalled that adult church attendance in New York's Manhattan borough on a Sunday in 1902 was equal to 37 per cent of the non-Jewish adults living in the borough, and that in the County of London the rate of adult attendance at church or synagogue in 1902-3 was 22 per cent. No such detailed figures are available for Berlin; but a count of attendance at churches of the Evangelical Landeskirche on one Sunday in 1913 found that approximately 0.6 per cent of the Protestant population were present at morning service. 1 If that figure is doubled to allow for those attending in the evening; 2 if another 1 per cent is added for those attending free churches; 3 and if we make the (possibly generous) estimate that 30 per cent of Roman Catholics went to church on that day, 4 we arrive at an attendance rate for the whole Christian population of the city of around 6 per cent. 5 A second comparison is of the ratio of ministers of religion to total population in 1910 or 1911. In New York the ratio was 1:1,318; in London 1:1,358; in Berlin 1:5,064. 6

Clearly, the differences between the three cities were far more complex than can be conveyed through such statistics. Nonetheless, the figures help to bring out the fact that the religious situations in these three giant cities differed in major ways, and that historians' preoccupation with the connection or lack of connection between urbanization and secularization has led them to neglect the huge differences between the religious histories of the various metropolitan centres of Europe and North America.

Rather than looking for a consistent relationship between urban growth and religious growth or decline, we should be looking at the specific context in which urban growth took place and the social forces that urbanization brought to the

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Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin, London, and New York, 1870-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Europe Past and Present Series *
  • Piety and Poverty *
  • Contents v
  • Maps vii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction xix
  • Part One Three Cities *
  • Chapter 1 Berlin 3
  • Chapter 2 London 29
  • Chapter 3 New York 49
  • Part Two the Cities Compared *
  • Chapter 4 Religion in the City 83
  • Chapter 5 Religion and the Working Class 103
  • Part Three Religion in Everyday Life *
  • Chapter 6 Heart of a Heartless World? 129
  • Chapter 7 Male and Female 149
  • Chapter 8 Religion in a Half-Secular Society 175
  • Conclusion 201
  • Abbreviations 211
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliographical Note 253
  • Index 257
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