I am researching the relationship between American evangelical Christians and Islam, how this relationship changed after 9/11, and how it affects American attitudes and policy as a whole. This topic is relevant to the containment attitudes that formed towards Islam after 9/11, especially since these two groups form the centers of the sides of the current dichotomy between “American” and “terrorist.”
There are two major areas of research which I will incorporate into my research. The first category is studies on the political rise of evangelical Christians in America. For example, they were very influential in the school desegregation controversies in the 1950s, but are much more influential in today’s politics. They receive outsize attention as a bloc in the electoral process even though they are not particularly politically homogenous. Many politicians’ rhetoric has hosted evangelicals up above the rest of the American population as the epitome of Americanism. On the other hand, research into political and religious rhetoric points to a serious animosity of evangelicals towards Islam, strengthened by the attacks on 9/11. Many books that strongly attack Islam were written by evangelical leaders after 9/11, and many of the same politicians that court evangelicals also spew seriously prejudiced views and rhetoric against Muslims. In addition, evangelicals, being more intrinsically religiously motivated, are more likely to respond to religious rhetoric in politics, eventually resulting in a wedge driven between them and other politically active groups, which are more likely to respond negatively to religious rhetoric in politics. The gap that my research fills is at the intersection of these two areas, studying the effect that 9/11 had on this new political emphasis of evangelicals. While these two events have been studied separately, a causal connection between them has never been studied.