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Simon Coleman

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Simon Coleman

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Simon Coleman

This chapter examines anthropological debates over the relationship between religion and politics. Why are religion and politics sometimes considered to be distinct entities (morally as well as empirically), and how have such assumptions been challenged by recent events? Exploring the dilemmas and struggles caused by the very labeling of evangelical Christianity as political, this chapter argues that, rather than dismissing such ‘political evangelicalism’ as not being ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ religion, we need to re-examine the historically and culturally loaded assumptions behind such a view, which does little justice to the complexity of evangelicalism or the different ways in which it can be articulated within different normative registers. Ultimately, participation in evangelicalism may involve dealing in politics as understood by secularist, liberal models; but it may also be about reconstituting it through ‘virtuous’ practices that have not always been appreciated, but which anthropology is well placed to uncover.