Muscular Christianity was a worldwide Protestant phenomenon begun in the 19th century. The rise of YMCA's throughout the western can be used to trace its growth and movement. Its appearance in America has been dated to 1880 by a Harvard University-published scholar.
Brett and Kate McKay wrote:
|“|| Historian Clifford Putney defines Muscular Christianity “as a Christian commitment to health and manliness,” and as a label and a philosophy, it originated in England in the 1850s, growing out of the novels of Thomas Hughes (Tom Brown’s School Days) and Charles Kingsley (Westward Ho!). Both men believed the Anglican Church was becoming too soft and effeminate, and created protagonists in their books who embodied an ideal counterbalance — young men who managed to combine the virtue and ethics of gentlemanly Christians, with masculine athleticism, camaraderie, and honor.
While Muscular Christianity took off first in England because industrialization and urbanization (and accompanying concerns about a decline in manliness) occurred earlier there than in the States, it eventually migrated to American shores in the 1870s. And here the movement would find an even greater and longer-lasting impact; it remained popular from around 1880 until 1920, and as we’ll see later, continues to influence American culture today.
Quote relating to Muscular Christianity
“Among all the marvelous advances of Christianity either within this organization [the YMCA] or without it, in this land and century or any other lands and ages, the future historian of the church of Christ will place this movement of carrying the gospel to the body as one of the most epoch making.” –G. Stanley Hall, “Christianity and Physical Culture” (1901)