Guest, et al. “Challenging ‘Belief’ and the Evangelical Bias”

Guest, Matthew, Sonya Sharma, Kristin Aune, and Rob Warner.  2013.  Challenging ‘Belief’ and the Evangelical Bias: Student Christianity in English Universities.  Journal of Contemporary Religion 2(28): 207-223.

Abstract: Popular and academic accounts of university-based religion tend to privilege evangelical Christianity, presented as a morally conservative, conversionist movement at odds with university contexts, which are widely assumed to be vehicles for a progressive Western modernity. This is especially the case in the UK, given the association of higher education with secularisation, yet virtually no research has studied this interface by examining the lives of students. This article discusses findings from the three-year project “Christianity and the University Experience in Contemporary England”, including a nation-wide survey of undergraduate students, in examining how the experience of university shapes on-campus expressions of Christian identity. We argue that a sizeable constituency of undergraduates self-identify as ‘Christian’, but evangelicals emerge not as the dominant majority, but as a vocal minority. The emerging internal complexity is masked by a public discourse that conceives of religion in terms of propositional belief and presents evangelicalism as its pre-eminent form.