Story: Atheism and secularism

Keeping Sundays sacred

Keeping Sundays sacred

This 1911 postcard shows a policeman shining his torch on a wowser (a slang term for an overly judgemental and prudish person), who has crossed out many popular aspects of Sunday life on a blackboard, leaving only church, compulsory prayers, collections, church bazaars, cold water and scandal. The card was used to lobby people to vote against prohibition in the first national alcohol licensing referendum, held in 1911. Although prohibition received 55.8% of the vote, it would only have been introduced if 60% of voters supported it. Rationalists and many others disagreed with how churches wanted to limit recreational and social activities on Sundays.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0220-5
Cartoon by Ercildoune Frederick Hiscocks

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Atheism and secularism - A Christian legacy', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 February 2019)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 4 Apr 2018