This thesis seeks to examine the influence of the Methodist Church in Victoria, Australia, on public policy in the twentieth century using the issue of Temperance as a case study.
Methodists had a tradition of social activism dating back to their eighteenth-century founder John Wesley. While the Church took up many causes, Temperance had become its signature concern. The secular Temperance movement in Victoria, Australia was unable to bring about significant reform so Methodist activists became the prime instigators of change and secured changes to licensing in 1906.
Methodists adopted a policy of ‘unswerving hostility’ to alcohol but, unable to adapt to social change in the following years, their influence slowly diminished. It was finally eclipsed in 1965 following a Royal Commission on Hotel Trading Hours. The Church, split between those clinging to traditional values and those seeking a better way to engage the community to their point of view, lost its reforming voice.