Constituting religious publics: the tale of two non-conformist churches in London

Watson, Sophie and Dodsworth, Francis (2011). Constituting religious publics: the tale of two non-conformist churches in London. Culture and Religion, 12(1) pp. 1–19.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14755610.2011.557011

Abstract

This article explores the constitution of religious spaces and publics in the city through case studies of two non-conformist protestant churches in London: City Temple and the Metropolitan Tabernacle. This approach allows us to unpack broad arguments about changing religious cultures in the modern city by highlighting the specificities of everyday religious cultures. Despite similar histories, from Victorian prominence to wartime destruction and post-war decline and revival, there are considerable differences between these communities. One presents itself as an inclusive site for multicultural interaction, while the other foregrounds their traditional doctrinal principles. The more traditional approach has been far more successful, offering a sense of stability, tradition and belonging, which is clearly attractive to many churchgoers. This is simultaneously a multi-ethnic gathering and a ‘mixophobic’ place, in which a clearly bounded identity community is established, and where there is little encounter with those of different views.

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