Socialist Sunday Schools were set up in the 1880s as an alternative to Christian Sunday Schools in the UK, and later the US. They arose in response to the perceived inadequacy of orthodox Sunday schools as a training ground for the children of socialists and the need for an organised, systematic presentation of the socialist point of view to teach its ideals and principles to children and young people.
The illustration on this poster is based on a plaque showing the Socialist 10 Commandments at the William Morris Hall in Walthamstow, opened on 13 December 1909 by artist and socialist Walter Crane. The town was a hive of working class agitation, organising and self-help and workers had clubbed together to build the hall which they named in honour of the Arts and Crafts Movement leader and socialist dynamo who was born in the town.
Socialist Sunday Schools encountered a lot of opposition because they were 'seen as subversive and as poisoning the minds of the young people of the country with their political and anti-religious doctrines and teachings' and there were those who tried to discredit the Schools by accusations of blasphemy and revolutionary teachings.
These days the word ‘socialist’ is rarely used except as a term of abuse or contempt. The Socialist 10 Commandments remind us that the movement embraced an admirable, enlightened and progressive vision. Who could possibly find fault with that?