D-Day for God?

The horrors of the Second World War led many in the west to conclude that God was dead. And, as religious belief declined, millions began to turn to drugs, rock music and the psychiatrist's couch

Worshippers inside the Duke Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Surrey, listening to a service in 1954. (Photo by Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the February 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

Later this year we shall be marking anniversaries of two world wars. Friday 6 June is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and July sees nothing less than the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Is there anything new to say about these momentous events? Well, yes there is, as I am going to argue here. One of the more enduring – if indirect – legacies of the two world wars is that they played havoc with our religious beliefs. Because of them, we are at sixes and sevens over whether we believe in God or not, and not only in Britain. A lot of us don’t know whether we believe in anything anymore.

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