A sociological approach to Christian-Muslim relations
McCallum, Richard John
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The increasingly politicized presence of Muslim communities in Britain today is raising issues not only for society in general but for other faith communities as well. Among these the Evangelical constituency, including the members of various Christian diasporas, is struggling to find a coherent response which is true to its Bible-based, activist roots. This thesis discusses the relationship of religion to the theoretical notion of the public sphere. Specifically it hypothesizes an Evangelical micro public sphere as the framework for an empirical exploration of the responses of British Evangelicals to Muslims since the events of 11th September 2001. It describes the formation, composition and discourse of this sphere drawing on data gathered from books, articles, lectures and interviews with key participants. The data reveal a marked tension, indeed a polarization, amongst Evangelicals, with an increasingly sharp disagreement between ‘confrontationalists’ and ‘conciliators’. A detailed analysis of the interaction of this sphere with Muslims, the national media and church leaders follows, leading to a concluding discussion of the future trajectory of the British Evangelical movement. Whilst it is still too early to say whether Evangelicalism will be strengthened or weakened, its encounter with Islam is likely to be an increasingly significant factor in British public life for the foreseeable future.
Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust
St Lukes College Foundation
PhD in Sociology