Social Gospel, liberal movement within American Protestantism that attempted to apply biblical teachings to problems associated with industrialization. It took form during the latter half of the 19th cent. under the leadership of Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch, who feared the isolation of religion from the working class. They believed in social progress and the essential goodness of humanity. The views of the Social Gospel movement were given formal expression in 1908 when the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America adopted what was later called "the social creed of the churches." Advocated in the creed were the abolition of child labor, better working conditions for women, one day off during the week, and the right of every worker to a living wage. With the rise of the organized labor movement in the early 20th cent. the Social Gospel movement lost much of its appeal as an independent force. However, many of its ideals were later embodied in the New Deal legislation of the 1930s.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.