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On Wit, Irony, and Living With Imperfection: How Britain Said No to Abstinence

By Jessica Warner, Janine Riviere and Jenny Carson

Abstract

Christian perfection, the evangelical doctrine that gave rise to abstinence as it is understood and practiced in America, originated in Britain with John Wesley and the Methodists. We examine why that doctrine floundered in its country of origin, opening the door to a more pluralistic and evidence-based approach to problems such as alcohol and drug abuse. Although social and political factors were important (the stratification of British society stood in the way of holding everyone to the same moral standard, and the drink trade was far better organized than its American counterpart), Britain’s intellectual elite also played a vital role, heaping ridicule on the temperance movement and subjecting it to a devastating critique

Topics: Public Health Then and Now
Publisher: American Public Health Association
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2374830
Provided by: PubMed Central
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