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Author Philip Jenkins

Philip Jenkins is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and serves as co-director for the program on historical studies of religion in the Institute for Studies of Religion. He is the author of numerous books, including “The Great and Holy War: How WWI Became a Religious Crusade.”

The Last Crusade?

Whatever happened to America’s crusades? Once upon a time, crusades were an integral part of American rhetoric, indicating a noble or righteous struggle inspired by higher motives. All sorts of political causes were “crusades,” not to mention the overtly military ones. You actually could write an excellent history of American religion and reform through the […] Read More

Does the Bible speak? If so, how? An oft-told tale of the Spanish conquest of the Americas tells of the Inca ruler Atahualpa. When he met the conquistadors in 1532, some Catholic priests reputedly gave him a Bible, telling him it contained the word of God. Atahualpa put the book to his ear, but hearing […] Read More

Kevin M. Kruse has a new book called “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.” It’s a scholarly and well-researched work on a significant topic, but its assertions have been misinterpreted by several reviewers. Don’t blame the book, blame the reviewer. Kruse, a Princeton University history professor, argues that much of what […] Read More

International media coverage in recent years has focused significantly on responding to ISIS. As a result, the increasing tension between the U.S. and Russia and China has received less attention than it should. By sane and carefully thought-out responses, the U.S. can defuse such situations, but it has to understand exactly what it is dealing […] Read More

Judging by media coverage over the past few years, it would be easy to assume that the West is locked in a death struggle with radical Islam. Against that view, I want to make two arguments. Although the first is (or should be) strictly noncontroversial, the second may be surprising. To begin, let us agree […] Read More

In a recent Times Literary Supplement, David Motadel reviewed James Noyes’ 2013 book, “The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam.” The review and the associated scholarship raise important questions about how we conceive of, teach about and, significantly, how we will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the […] Read More

There has been a sharp decline in public concern (or panic) about dangerous religious cults in the United States in recent years. I believe this might mark a significant social trend, and perhaps even a bellwether for secularization. Throughout American history, a recurrent narrative has warned of the danger of small, tight-knit groups following a […] Read More

Freemasonry has had a pervasive influence on Anglo-American culture.  Usually open and generous in its racial and religious attitudes, there is one enormous exception to that rule: Roman Catholics. Much of European and American politics over the past two centuries has involved an often-bitter confrontation between Masons and Catholics. Why is that? Modern Freemasonry developed […] Read More

Japanese Christians were in a weaker position at the end of the 16th century than most realized, even though 250 churches had been established in the nation between 1549 and 1582. From multiple sources, Japanese authorities were receiving alarming signals about what the long-term intentions of the visitors might be. Some loud-mouthed Europeans were heard […] Read More

This year marks a singularly grim anniversary in Christian history. In 2014, it is exactly 400 years since the start of the horrific persecution that destroyed the once flourishing church in Japan. When we think of persecutions on this scale, we normally tend to set them in an ancient or medieval context. The world of […] Read More