American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism

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Overview

"In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, many of America's Christian evangelicals have denounced Islam as a "demonic" and inherently violent religion, provoking frustration among other Christian conservatives who wish to present a more appealing message to the world's Muslims. Yet as Thomas Kidd reveals in this sobering book, the conflicted views expressed by today's evangelicals have deep roots in American history." "Tracing Islam's role in the popular imagination of American Christians from the colonial period to today, Kidd demonstrates that Protestant evangelicals have viewed Islam as a global threat-while also actively seeking to convert Muslims to the Christian faith-since the nation's founding. He shows how accounts of "Mahometan" despotism and lurid stories of European enslavement by Barbary pirates fueled early evangelicals' fears concerning Islam, and describes the growing conservatism of American missions to Muslim lands up through the post-World War II era. Kidd exposes American Christians' anxieties about an internal Islamic threat from groups like the Nation of Islam in the 1960s and America's immigrant Muslim population today; and he demonstrates why Islam has become central to evangelical "end-times" narratives. Pointing to many evangelicals' unwillingness to acknowledge Islam's theological commonalities with Christianity and their continued portrayal of Islam as an "evil" and false religion, Kidd explains why Christians themselves are ironically to blame for the failure of evangelism in the Muslim world." American Christians and Islam is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the causes of the mounting tensions between Christians and Muslimstoday.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Kidd has produced a gem of a book. It needs to find a high place on interreligious as well as public-policy bibliographies.
— John T. Pawlikowski
Journal of the Ecclesiastical History
Kidd's book ably captures the bombast and the predicament of American evangelicals as they attempted to reconcile the missionary imperative with a scrambled sense of eschatological geography.
— Nicholas Guyatt
Catholic Historical Review
The story that Kidd tells is compelling and enlightening in its nuanced depiction of conservative American Christian views on Islam and Muslims across three centuries. . . . [T]his book is a well-written and enlightening overview of the American Evangelical approach to Islam.
— Akram Fouad Khater
International Bulletin of Missionary Research
[T]his book makes . . . [an] invaluable contribution . . . to our understanding of the history of evangelical attitudes toward Muslims and Islam.
— Alan M. Guenther
Restoration Quarterly
Kidd accomplishes the aims of his book well, illuminating nearly four hundred years of conservative American Christian interpretations of Islam. The length of the time period and the particular focus on American Christian views make this volume a unique, welcome addition to the field. The book is academic but accessible to a wide audience, a wellspring of primary source information and a penetrating survey. Scholars of American religious history and upper-level students of the subject will consult this volume for years to come.
— James Gormam
Foreign Affairs - Walter Russell Mead
This concise and well-organized study offers readers an excellent summary of American popular attitudes toward Islam from the eighteenth century onward.
Father; Orthodoxy Today - Patrick Henry Reardon
Kidd's is a sympathetic and well-informed voice of sanity and Christian equanimity in the midst of this turmoil. His closing appeals to reason, civility, and charitable discourse could provide a better setting, I believe, for a fruitful mission to Islam. Otherwise, one fears what level of catastrophe may be required to discredit Dispensationalist craziness.
Christian Century - Anne Blue Wills
Offers an informative tonic that might move Christians in the U.S. beyond deeply embedded suspicions and into more hospitable encounters with Muslims at home and abroad.
Contemporary Islam - Heather J. Sharkey
A key strength of American Christians and Islam is that it surveys a spectrum of American Christian and evangelical thought vis-à-vis Muslims across three centuries, and does so in a manner that is very clear, so that even a reader new to the subject could appreciate it. Assigned in a class on Middle Eastern or Islamic studies, this book would be guaranteed to stimulate lively debate.
Modern Reformation - Adam S. Francisco
As Islam continues its slow be steady growth in America, evangelicals of whatever strip would be wise to consult American Christians and Islam, particularly as they continue to seek ways to approach Islam with sobriety and faithfulness.
Touchstone - Sandra Tonies Keating
Thomas Kidd has done a great service with his publication of American Christians and Islam. Although there is an endless array of studies on various aspects of the relationships between Muslims and Christians throughout the past 1,400 years, this is, to my knowledge, the first to examine American Evangelical attitudes toward Islam. Kidd presents a vast amount of material in a clear, readable manner, and his book should be of interest to anyone trying to understand the extremely complex dynamic of contemporary Muslim-Christian relations.
Journal of American History - Edward E. Curtis IV
This timely book about American Christian attitudes toward Islam and Muslims is a useful addition to the growing literature on Anglo-American engagements with Islam and Muslims since the colonial age. It is noteworthy primarily for its chronological range and its coverage of American missionaries to the Muslim world.
Journal of Ecumenical Studies - John T. Pawlikowski
Kidd has produced a gem of a book. It needs to find a high place on interreligious as well as public-policy bibliographies.
Journal of the Ecclesiastical History - Nicholas Guyatt
Kidd's book ably captures the bombast and the predicament of American evangelicals as they attempted to reconcile the missionary imperative with a scrambled sense of eschatological geography.
Catholic Historical Review - Akram Fouad Khater
The story that Kidd tells is compelling and enlightening in its nuanced depiction of conservative American Christian views on Islam and Muslims across three centuries. . . . [T]his book is a well-written and enlightening overview of the American Evangelical approach to Islam.
International Bulletin of Missionary Research - Alan M. Guenther
[T]his book makes . . . [an] invaluable contribution . . . to our understanding of the history of evangelical attitudes toward Muslims and Islam.
Restoration Quarterly - James Gormam
Kidd accomplishes the aims of his book well, illuminating nearly four hundred years of conservative American Christian interpretations of Islam. The length of the time period and the particular focus on American Christian views make this volume a unique, welcome addition to the field. The book is academic but accessible to a wide audience, a wellspring of primary source information and a penetrating survey. Scholars of American religious history and upper-level students of the subject will consult this volume for years to come.
Orthodoxy Today - Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
Kidd's is a sympathetic and well-informed voice of sanity and Christian equanimity in the midst of this turmoil. His closing appeals to reason, civility, and charitable discourse could provide a better setting, I believe, for a fruitful mission to Islam. Otherwise, one fears what level of catastrophe may be required to discredit Dispensationalist craziness.
Foreign Affairs
This concise and well-organized study offers readers an excellent summary of American popular attitudes toward Islam from the eighteenth century onward.
— Walter Russell Mead
Orthodoxy Today
Kidd's is a sympathetic and well-informed voice of sanity and Christian equanimity in the midst of this turmoil. His closing appeals to reason, civility, and charitable discourse could provide a better setting, I believe, for a fruitful mission to Islam. Otherwise, one fears what level of catastrophe may be required to discredit Dispensationalist craziness.
— Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
Christian Century
Offers an informative tonic that might move Christians in the U.S. beyond deeply embedded suspicions and into more hospitable encounters with Muslims at home and abroad.
— Anne Blue Wills
Contemporary Islam
A key strength of American Christians and Islam is that it surveys a spectrum of American Christian and evangelical thought vis-à-vis Muslims across three centuries, and does so in a manner that is very clear, so that even a reader new to the subject could appreciate it. Assigned in a class on Middle Eastern or Islamic studies, this book would be guaranteed to stimulate lively debate.
— Heather J. Sharkey
Modern Reformation
As Islam continues its slow be steady growth in America, evangelicals of whatever strip would be wise to consult American Christians and Islam, particularly as they continue to seek ways to approach Islam with sobriety and faithfulness.
— Adam S. Francisco
Touchstone
Thomas Kidd has done a great service with his publication of American Christians and Islam. Although there is an endless array of studies on various aspects of the relationships between Muslims and Christians throughout the past 1,400 years, this is, to my knowledge, the first to examine American Evangelical attitudes toward Islam. Kidd presents a vast amount of material in a clear, readable manner, and his book should be of interest to anyone trying to understand the extremely complex dynamic of contemporary Muslim-Christian relations.
— Sandra Tonies Keating
Journal of American History
This timely book about American Christian attitudes toward Islam and Muslims is a useful addition to the growing literature on Anglo-American engagements with Islam and Muslims since the colonial age. It is noteworthy primarily for its chronological range and its coverage of American missionaries to the Muslim world.
— Edward E. Curtis IV
Touchstone
Thomas Kidd has done a great service with his publication of American Christians and Islam. Although there is an endless array of studies on various aspects of the relationships between Muslims and Christians throughout the past 1,400 years, this is, to my knowledge, the first to examine American Evangelical attitudes toward Islam. Kidd presents a vast amount of material in a clear, readable manner, and his book should be of interest to anyone trying to understand the extremely complex dynamic of contemporary Muslim-Christian relations.
— Sandra Tonies Keating
Contemporary Islam
A key strength of American Christians and Islam is that it surveys a spectrum of American Christian and evangelical thought vis-à-vis Muslims across three centuries, and does so in a manner that is very clear, so that even a reader new to the subject could appreciate it. Assigned in a class on Middle Eastern or Islamic studies, this book would be guaranteed to stimulate lively debate.
— Heather J. Sharkey
Modern Reformation
As Islam continues its slow be steady growth in America, evangelicals of whatever strip would be wise to consult American Christians and Islam, particularly as they continue to seek ways to approach Islam with sobriety and faithfulness.
— Adam S. Francisco
From the Publisher
"This concise and well-organized study offers readers an excellent summary of American popular attitudes toward Islam from the eighteenth century onward."—Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs

"Kidd's is a sympathetic and well-informed voice of sanity and Christian equanimity in the midst of this turmoil. His closing appeals to reason, civility, and charitable discourse could provide a better setting, I believe, for a fruitful mission to Islam. Otherwise, one fears what level of catastrophe may be required to discredit Dispensationalist craziness."—Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Orthodoxy Today

"Offers an informative tonic that might move Christians in the U.S. beyond deeply embedded suspicions and into more hospitable encounters with Muslims at home and abroad."—Anne Blue Wills, Christian Century

"A key strength of American Christians and Islam is that it surveys a spectrum of American Christian and evangelical thought vis—vis Muslims across three centuries, and does so in a manner that is very clear, so that even a reader new to the subject could appreciate it. Assigned in a class on Middle Eastern or Islamic studies, this book would be guaranteed to stimulate lively debate."—Heather J. Sharkey, Contemporary Islam

"As Islam continues its slow be steady growth in America, evangelicals of whatever strip would be wise to consult American Christians and Islam, particularly as they continue to seek ways to approach Islam with sobriety and faithfulness."—Adam S. Francisco, Modern Reformation

"Thomas Kidd has done a great service with his publication of American Christians and Islam. Although there is an endless array of studies on various aspects of the relationships between Muslims and Christians throughout the past 1,400 years, this is, to my knowledge, the first to examine American Evangelical attitudes toward Islam. Kidd presents a vast amount of material in a clear, readable manner, and his book should be of interest to anyone trying to understand the extremely complex dynamic of contemporary Muslim-Christian relations."—Sandra Tonies Keating, Touchstone

"This timely book about American Christian attitudes toward Islam and Muslims is a useful addition to the growing literature on Anglo-American engagements with Islam and Muslims since the colonial age. It is noteworthy primarily for its chronological range and its coverage of American missionaries to the Muslim world."—Edward E. Curtis IV, Journal of American History

"Kidd has produced a gem of a book. It needs to find a high place on interreligious as well as public-policy bibliographies."—John T. Pawlikowski, Journal of Ecumenical Studies

"Kidd's book ably captures the bombast and the predicament of American evangelicals as they attempted to reconcile the missionary imperative with a scrambled sense of eschatological geography."—Nicholas Guyatt, Journal of the Ecclesiastical History

"The story that Kidd tells is compelling and enlightening in its nuanced depiction of conservative American Christian views on Islam and Muslims across three centuries. . . . [T]his book is a well-written and enlightening overview of the American Evangelical approach to Islam."—Akram Fouad Khater, Catholic Historical Review

"[T]his book makes . . . [an] invaluable contribution . . . to our understanding of the history of evangelical attitudes toward Muslims and Islam."—Alan M. Guenther, International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"Kidd accomplishes the aims of his book well, illuminating nearly four hundred years of conservative American Christian interpretations of Islam. The length of the time period and the particular focus on American Christian views make this volume a unique, welcome addition to the field. The book is academic but accessible to a wide audience, a wellspring of primary source information and a penetrating survey. Scholars of American religious history and upper-level students of the subject will consult this volume for years to come."—James Gormam, Restoration Quarterly

"In all respects, American Christians and Islam is a well-balanced, long overdue study, delving deep in the folk memory of America, painting a complex and suggestive profile of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim (dis)connection, celebrating both Christianity and Islamism, while formulating no apologies for either. . . . [I]t is an opportune appearance that seeks to do justice to Qur'anic verse and Islamic scholarship, an admirable monograph launching a timely invitation to grasp the true nature of Islam."—Adriana Neagu, American British and Canadian Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691133492
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Kidd is associate professor of history at Baylor University and resident scholar at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. He is the author of "The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America" and "The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism".

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Ch. 1 Early American Christians and Islam 1

Ch. 2 The Barbary Wars, the Last Days, and Islam in Early National America 19

Ch. 3 Foreign Missions to Muslims in Nineteenth-Century America 37

Ch. 4 Samuel Zwemer, World War I, and "The Evangelization of the Moslem World in This Generation" 58

Ch. 5 The New Missionary Overture to Muslims and the Arab-Israeli Crisis 75

Ch. 6 Christians Respond to Muslims in Modern America 96

Ch. 7 Maturing Evangelical Missions and War in the Middle East 120

Ch. 8 American Christians and Islam After September 11, 2001 144

Epilogue 165

Notes 171

Index 195

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