Conan Doyle's London Church

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Conan Doyle's London Church is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Reynolds's News on 26 august 1923.

Conan Doyle's London Church

Reynolds's News
(26 august 1923, p. 2)

A Religion to Sweep the Earth.

By Sir A. Conan Doyle.

Just returned from a spiritualistic lecture tour of the United States, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave to "Reynolds's" Special Commissioner the following interesting account of his impressions.

Sir Arthur says that the Church which takes up spiritualism will "sweep the earth," and prophesies that if the Churches refuse to accept the message, Christianity will be dead in a couple of centuries.

He intends to establish in London a Church in which spiritualism will be preached every Sunday.

I have paid two visit to America to lecture on spiritualism, and the most noteworthy sign during my recent tour was the very gratifying change of attitude on the part of the Press. The newspapers no longer "guy" the thing — and that is true right across the continent. The great majority take the view that there is a case, and that the message has been an extraordarily winning one. They simply cannot afford to ridicule; readers will not "stand for it," as they say.

I should say that the interest in different rather than greater in America as compared with this country. When it comes to educated men professing spiritualism fully, we are in advance here — the standard of intellectual interest is more marked.

I found among professional men numbers of Nicodemuses who came by night. They confessed to me their belief, but from their public position they found it difficult to come forward as whole-hearted advocates.


On the phenomenal side, Americans are leading; on the intellectual side we are in front. But we have no mediums in this country to compare with the Jonsons of Los Angeles.

My wife and I went to a seance given by them. There were twenty people in the room, in which there was a cabinet, like a little sentry box, to prevent the spirit vapour in which materialisation takes place from being dispatched, and to confine it to on portion of the room. Jonson and his wife sat outside the cabinet, and Jonson himself went into a trance. In the course of two hours no fewer than fourteen spirit persons came out of that cabinet — men, women, and children. We spoke to them, and all were recognised by somebody or other present. One, a child, spoke for eighteen minutes, answering questions as to life in the other world.

People may say that I was dreaming or lying, and that I did not see these spirits, or speak with them at all. But was my wife dreaming? Were the eighteen others present dreaming or lying?


Over here people do not realise how great has been the progress in the last few years. Take the case of what is known as the Oscar Wilde script, which came over about a couple of months ago, through the medium of Mrs. Travers Smith and another. It may be read in this month's "Occult Review." If any man has got the least sense of literary style he will know that this is the writing of Wilde himself. I pledge my name as a literary critic that this is Wilde's work, and not that of any imitator. There are a large number of phrases which nobody but Wilde could possibly have used. You may forge a man's signature, and you may even forge his style, but you cannot forge the soul behind the style. There is really no form of proof which has not been put before our stupide eyes.

Not long ago there was a seance given by a medium named Jean Gusik in Paris, to which Dr. Geley brought thirty-four people, among them editors of prominent French newspapers, and other leading men not selected for any known favour to spiritualism. After the seance the whole of the thirty-four signed a document that there was no question at all of the genuineness of the thing. The spirits were asked to do a thing, and they did it. The thirty-four said that there was intelligence behind the phenomena. Whose intelligence was it? Not that of the medium, who was in a deep trance. Whose then? That is it question which science has got to weigh. It is the most vital in the world.

The man who denies the physical phenomena is an ignorant person who does not know what is happening.


It is commonly said that scientists are sceptical of the truth of spiritualism. There are some remarkable names to the contrary. The men who do not believe are the men who have not examined. If a man of science has not examined the evidence, his opinion is worth no more than that of a tram conductor.

The scientists who believe are the men who have applied scientific methods. They have stated the grounds for the conclusions to which they have come. These are the real experts.

The others decry the new thing which they have not tested. It can the same with the Darwinian theory. Huxley and a few others stuck up for it at first against the crowd, just as Crookes and Lodge and Wallace have for the truth of spiritualism.

The history of mesmerism tells the same tale. For seventy years it was condemned by experts as ridiculous rubbish, while all the time in almost any village fair you might find people who exhibited mesmeric powers. So they changed the name and called it hypnotism, and as hypnotism it holds its due place.

Medical men, too, are extremely conservative. They hate a natural fear of quackery and unorthodox methods, so spiritualism is absolutely taboo. But they are busy men, with no time to spare, and they form their ideas on what they read in the daily papers.

It is said that people have suffered physically through spiritualism. There are weak-minded persons who are carried away by whatever comes along. Our people in the main are healthy and sane and happy. They have au enormous stay in the troubles of life. I have come across one case only of a girl who lost her balance through spiritualism; but there was some insanity in her family.


Of the Churches, the Anglicans take the broadest view. The Church which adopts spiritualism will sweep the earth. We do not want to drag down the Churches; we want to make them stronger. But if they do not accept spiritualism, Christianity will be extinct within a couple of centuries. People will break away and form Spiritualistic Churches. There are 400 of them over here now. A great new religion is springing up, because the orthodox religions will not accept what we know to be true. They should allow mediums in the Churches, in order to keep people in touch with the other world. They want to get back to first hand knowledge. Now they have formulas.

What I want to see now is a dignified church established in London, and put into it the very best man we have got, so that he may preach this doctrine every Sunday. It is the next thing I have to attempt.