'On very slippery ground': the British churches, Archbishop Fisher and the Suez crisis

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This article examines the reactions of the churches to the Suez crisis, focusing in particular on the leadership of the Church of England. It argues that the fact of religious establishment required a response from the Archbishop of Canterbury who proved a surprisingly robust critic of the military intervention, albeit at the cost of alienating many in the pews. Whilst making use of his access to political elites, he nonetheless remained keen to work with other church leaders in developing a shared critique based on rejection of the use of force and Britain’s right to be judge in its own case, instead stressing the need for an international resolution of the crisis. Yet as the crisis developed it became apparent that church leaders were not always able to speak for church members, who were as bitterly divided as the rest of society over both the specific issue and the wider argument how best to respond to Britain’s declining role in the world. This in turn presaged future debates, as increasingly specialist church agencies and religious leaders found themselves taking positions on social and political affairs that were often at odds with those of many within their own constituencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-358
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary British History
Issue number3
Early online date6 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Suez crisis
  • Churches
  • Archbishop of Canterbury
  • War
  • Middle East


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