Fuller Theological Seminary has received a $250,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for a three-year research-to-resources project that aims to shape public discourse about people of other faiths and witness—with special focus on Islamophobia and migration in a global society—so that such discourse is characterized by convicted civility, not fear and rancor. In this joint project between Fuller’s Schools of Theology and Intercultural Studies, principal investigators include President Emeritus Richard Mouw, professors Amos Yong, William Dyrness, Roberta King, Ryan Bolger, and Kirsteen Kim, and PhD candidate Matthew Krabill.
The relationship between American evangelicals and those of other faiths has long been a tenuous and delicate one. Frequently marked by a polemic and defensive posture, evangelicals have in numerous instances alienated communities of other faiths, often unintentionally. Following 9/11, many evangelicals have responded through expressions of fear and condemnation, even demonizing Islam as a religion and Muslims as people. Since 2001, several polling projects identify American evangelicals—more than any other religious group—as holding the most negative views and attitudes toward adherents of other religions.
“We live in a divisive era, increasingly so since last year’s presidential election, with heightened displays of xenophobia especially among evangelical Christians,” says Dr. Yong, director of the Center for Missiological Research and professor of theology and mission at Fuller. “In the latter half of the second decade of the twenty-first century, evangelical churches across North America remain in need of developing theologies of other faiths and cultures, and practices for relating to and interacting with members of such groups, that are more welcoming than alienating.”
This project seeks to build relationships with Muslim and Buddhist scholars, clergy as well as adherents of other faiths. Through various symposia and lectures open to the public, the hope is that sincere, honest, and civil dialogues take place. The research sponsored by the grant will be translated into print and digital materials and broadly shared through FULLER studio and various academic publications.
“We are so grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for enabling Fuller to engage these pressing issues in a way that promotes human flourishing and therefore fulfills the good news of Jesus Christ,” adds Dr. Mouw.