“…and how can the answers to this question be incorporated into a strategic effort at storytelling for social change within conservative evangelicalism? ”
Survey data reveals that most evangelicals have cool feelings about other religions. But in the first phase of grant work our team discovered conservative evangelical churches involved in positive forms of multi-faith engagement that provides strong evidence of warm feelings toward neighbors of other religions. Why do the churches we’ve identified pursue a different approach that embraces love of neighbor and immigrant rather than defensive and confrontational postures? Social psychology reveals that conservatives value purity as a moral foundation, and related to this are concerns for contamination and a feeling of disgust from potential sources of “pollution.” This seems to underlie evangelical concerns about syncretism. The second phase of this project will include two components of research. The first component involves various aspects of social psychology and psychological assessment scales, especially moral psychology related to purity and disgust, as well as a study of conceptual metaphors used to understand those in other religions. The second component is storytelling for social change. These two areas of research will come together to help understand the psychological and theological challenges evangelicals must overcome in multi-faith engagement, and how to make strategic use of stories in order to create a new narrative in this area for evangelicalism. Project outcomes will incorporate the insights of our research.