From the Gates of Vienna to the Gates at Heathrow: Christian Soldiers and the Islamic Invasions of New Europe

Patrick Hyder Patterson
UC San Diego

Targeting several key Eastern and Western European polities, the project determines how and why those Europeans whose political activism comes from Christian religious commitments have welcomed or rejected the new presence of Muslims, and how they have drawn on (and mobilized for political purposes) a potent collection of centuries-old images, fears, remembrances, stereotypes, and history-laden received traditions concerning the nature of Islam and its followers. The study traces and interprets the shifting approaches taken since the 1960s as these critical brokers of integration – political Christians in church and lay organizations and party groups – have argued over whether Islamic views of society are compatible with Europe’s dominant liberal-secular and (post-) Christian cultural, political, and legal traditions. The project puts Samuel Huntington’s persistent and seductive “clash of civilizations” thesis to a rigorous and much needed empirical test, establishing how the civilizational view has, in practice, found militant adherents (“Christian soldiers”) in the East and the West, and, just as important, explaining those crucial instances in which some political Christians have opted to become not soldiers but peacemakers instead, thus undercutting the widely popular Huntingtonian view that religious differences are paramount and that conflict is virtually inevitable.