NORTH BELLMORE, NY, Dec. 14, 2005- After the 9/11 terrorists attacks on the U.S., evangelical leaders--from Franklin Graham to Jerry Vines of the Southern Baptist Convention-- emerged as the strongest critics and even antagonists of Islam. Numerous surveys have likewise found evangelicals in general to have more negative views on Islam than other Americans.
This rhetoric is reflected in evangelical books and articles that have been published in the last decade, but particularly since 9/11. A new study by Richard Cimino, editor of Religion Watch newsletter, finds that this discourse sheds as much light on how evangelicals view the challenges of pluralism and relativism in American society as it does about their views on Islam. The study, entitled, “No God In Common: American Evangelical Discourse on Islam After 9/11,” is published in the December issue of the Review of Religious Research.
Through conducting an analysis of popular evangelical books published before and after 9/11, the study finds that most of the post-9/11 literature draws sharper distinctions between Islam and Christianity, as well as asserting that Islam is essentially violent. This polemic against Islam takes three forms: evangelical apologetics to prove the truth of Christianity against Islam; prophetic literature linking Islam as the main protagonist in end-times scenarios; and charismatic literature applying “spiritual warfare” teachings to Islam. The growth of evangelical apologetics against Islam is especially prevalent, with a new breed of ex-Muslim evangelicals issuing sharp critiques that stress the radical separateness of Christianity from Islam.
The article concludes that new patterns of interaction between Islam and Christianity and greater pluralism in American society are challenging evangelical identity, leading to the erection of new boundary markers between evangelicalism and other religions. These new boundaries can strain interfaith relations yet they may also strengthen evangelical identity.
A longer and modified version of the article by Richard Cimino is available free of charge on the Religion Watch website; just click on: http://www.religionwatch.com/doc/2005-Cimino-Evangelicals-Islam.pdf
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