• Mathew Guest Durham University, UK


This article is a critical engagement with political scientist William Connolly’s book Christianity and Capitalism: American Style. Connolly’s analysis of the ways in which evangelical Christianity and capitalist agendas interrelate in the US context is outlined and critiqued in terms of its tendency to homogenise the US evangelical movement and overstate its incorporation of right wing political interests. Its theoretical framework is also critiqued, but developed in light of its potential to generate insights into the global context of evangelical influence, including as a vehicle for capitalist values. This is explored in terms of US influence upon British evangelicalism and what this reveals about the circulation of evangelical-capitalist ideas within a transatlantic context. A case study is offered of the Willow Creek sponsored Global Leadership Summit by way of illustration.

Keywords: Capitalism, Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, New Right, Spiritualities


Andersen, A., Tilley, J. and Heath, A.F. 2005. Political Knowledge and Enlightened Preferences: Party Choice through the Electoral Cycle, British Journal of Political Science, 35: 285–302.
Atherton, John. 2008. Transfiguring Capitalism: An Enquiry into Religion and Global Change. SCM Press, London.
Beckford, James A. 2005. Social Theory and Religion, CUP, Cambridge.
Bielo, James S. 2009. The ‘Emerging Church’ in America: Notes on the interaction of Christianities, Religion, 39: 219-32.
Branaugh, Matt. 2008. Willow Creek’s ‘Huge Shift’: Influential megachurch moves away from seeker-sensitive services, Christianity Today, 15/5/08, see http://www.
christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/june/5.13.html (accessed 16/7/10)
Brouwer, S., Gifford, P. and Rose, S. 1996. Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism, Routledge, London.
Bruce, Steve. 2002. God is Dead: Secularization in the West, Blackwell, Oxford.
Carrette, Jeremy and King, Richard. 2005. Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion, Routledge, Abingdon.
Caswell, Bruce. 2009. The Presidency, the Vote, and the Formation of New Coalitions, Polity, 41 (3): 388-407.
Coleman, Simon. 2000. The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel Of Prosperity. CUP, Cambridge.
Coleman, Simon. 2002. The Faith Movement: A Global Religious Culture, Culture and Religion, 3 (1): 3-19.
Connolly, William E. 1999. Why I am Not a Secularist. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London.
Connolly, William E. 2008. Capitalism and Christianity, American Style. Duke University Press, Durham and London.
Davie, Grace. 2000. Religion in Modern Europe: A Memory Mutates. OUP, Oxford.
Davies, Douglas and Guest, Mathew. 2007. Bishops, Wives and Children: Spiritual Capital Across the Generations. Ashgate, Aldershot.
Einstein, Mara. 2008. Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age. Routledge, London and New York.
Frykholm, A.J. 2004. Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. OUP, New York.
Gribben, Crawford. 2006. After Left Behind – The Paradox of Evangelical Pessimism, in Kenneth G. C. Newport and Crawford Gribben (eds), Expecting the End: Millennialism in Social and Historical Context, Baylor University Press. Waco, TX.
Guest, Mathew. 2007. In Search of Spiritual Capital: The Spiritual as Cultural Resource, in K. Flanagan and P. Jupp (eds), A Sociology of Spirituality, Ashgate, Aldershot.
Heelas, Paul. 1999. Prosperity and the New Age Movement. The Efficacy of Spiritual Economics, in Bryan Wilson and Jamie Cressell (eds), New Religious Movements. Challenge and Response. Routledge, London.
Heelas, Paul and Woodhead, Linda. 2005. The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Blackwell, Malden, MA, Oxford, Carlton.
Hunter, James Davison and Yates, Joshua. 2002. In the Vanguard of Globalization: The World of American Globalizers, in Peter L. Berger and Samuel P. Huntington (eds), Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World, OUP, Oxford and New York.
Jenkins, Richard. 1992. Pierre Bourdieu. Routledge, London.
Kellstedt, Lyman A. and Green, John C. 2003. The Politics of the Willow Creek Association Pastors, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42 (4): 547-61.
Kennedy, John W. 2008. Preach and Reach: Despite his liberal record, Barack Obama is making a lot of evangelicals think twice, Christianity Today, October: 26-30.
Kotler-Berkowitz, L.A. 2001. Religion and Voting Behaviour in Great Britain: A Reassessment, British Journal of Political Science, 31(3): 523–55.
Krueger, David A. 2009. Review of William E. Connolly (2008) Capitalism and Christianity, American Style, Duke University Press, Durham and London, The Journal of Religion, 89 (3): 444-46.
Lindsay, D. Michael. 2007. Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. OUP, Oxford.
Martin, David. 2005. On Secularization: Toward a Revised General Theory, Ashgate, Aldershot.
McAndrew, Siobhan. 2010. Religious Faith and Contemporary Attitudes, in Alison Park et al (eds) British Social Attitudes: The 26th Report, Sage, London.
Murray, Paul ed. 2010. Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning:Exploring a Way for Contemporary Ecumenism, OUP, Oxford.
Norris, Pippa and Inglehart, Ronald. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, CUP, Cambridge.
Northcott, Michael. 2004. An Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire. I B Tauris, London & New York.
Penning, James M. 1994. Pat Robertson and the GOP: 1988 and Beyond, Sociology of Religion, 55 (3): 327-44.
Penning, James M. and Smidt, Corwin E. 2002. Evangelicalism: The Next Generation, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.
Pritchard, G.A. 1996. Willow Creek Seeker Services: Evaluating a New Way of Doing Church. Baker Books, Grand Rapids.
Roberts, Richard. (ed.).1995. Religion and the Transformations of Capitalism: Comparative Approaches. Routledge, London.
Smith, Christian. 2000. Christian America: What Evangelicals Really Want. University of California Press, Berkeley and London.
Stackhouse, Jnr, John G. 2008. A Variety of Evangelical Politics, Christianity Today, November: 52-57.
Stark, Rodney. 2008. What Americans Really Believe: New Findings from the Baylor Surveys of Religion. Baylor University Press, Waco: TX.
Steger, Manfred B. 2008. The Rise of the Global Imaginary: Political Ideologies from The French Revolution to the Global War on Terror, OUP, Oxford.
Van der Veer, Peter. 1995. Conversion to Modernities: The Globalization of Christianity, Routledge, London.
Verter, B. 2003. Spiritual Capital: Theorizing Religion with Bourdieu against Bourdieu, Sociological Theory, 21(2): 150-74.
Weber, Max. 1958. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Scribners, New York.
Witton, Marsha. 1995. ‘Where Your Treasure Is’: Popular Evangelical Views of Work, Money, and Materialism, in Robert Wuthnow (ed.) Rethinking Materialism: Perspectives on the Spiritual Dimension of Economic Behaviour. William B. Eerdmans, London.
Wuthnow, Robert. 2009. Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches. University of California Press.