Sunday School Movement
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Sunday School Movement
Page 138

Founder Robert Raikes

Raikes PictureThe noisy children and the seemingly insignificant event that happened on that Sunday afternoon in 1780 was to become the beginnings of the Sunday School movement and set Robert Raikes mind thinking about the deprivation which existed amongst these poor people generally and especially the little ones. So began the Sunday school movement and the crusade to eliminate injustice and hardship mainly through the pages of the Gloucester Journal, of which Raikes was the proprietor and editor.

Corrupt Prison Administration

Raikes also sought the reform of a corrupt prison administration. He preached against the uncontrolled sale of strong drink, particularly of the gin being sold to children on just about every street corner. "Gin" was called "mother's Ruin" for good reason as it made men impotent, and women sterile, and was a major reason that the birth rate in London was exceeded at this time by the death rate! Gin started out as a medicine to cure gout and indigestion, but most attractive of all, it was cheap. In the 1730s notices appeared all across London reading, "Drunk for 1 penny, Dead drunk for tuppence, Straw for nothing!" Gin was cheap and became the drink of the poor and was sold by barbers, peddlers, grocers and even on market stalls.

William Hogarth

"Bootleggers" sold their wares under such fancy names as "Cuckold’s Comfort," "Ladies Delight" and "Knock Me Down." The horror of the situation in London was portrayed in a print by William Hogarth (1697-1764) the English painter and social critic called "Gin Lane." This showed a drunken woman with ulcerated legs, taking snuff as her baby falls into the gin-vault below. Hogarth had a strong Christian background and this shows in illustrating his rendering "The Fellow Prentices at their Looms" subtitles the industrious apprentice with Proverbs 10.4 "Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth" and the idle apprentice with Proverbs 23.21 "for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." Robert Raikes was disgusted by this drunkenness and instigated a crusade for education which he believed to be an effective means of reform. He started what we call today the "The Sunday School movement."

"Sunday School Movement"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2019

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