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Evangelicalism and National Identity in Ulster, 1921-1998$
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Patrick Mitchel

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256150

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199256152.001.0001

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Generating Distance?: The Changing Identity of Irish Presbyterianism

Generating Distance?: The Changing Identity of Irish Presbyterianism

(p.213) 7 Generating Distance?: The Changing Identity of Irish Presbyterianism
Evangelicalism and National Identity in Ulster, 1921-1998

Patrick Mitchel

Oxford University Press

How the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has interacted with unionism since Partition is investigated in two stages. Analysis of the Church’s relationship with Orangeism; Presbyterian national identity; and PCI attitudes to the Northern Irish state from 1921 to 1972 reveal a denomination ‘at ease in Zion’, spiritually supportive of unionism and Orangeism. In contrast, evidence from 1972 to 1998 points to an identity shift towards a more open evangelical identity. However, organizational inertia, new challenges such as secularization, pietistic attitudes towards political engagement, a continuing reluctance to acknowledge past Presbyterian support for ‘God and Ulster’ and a continuing level of ambivalence towards the status of the Orange Order, all combine to make the church effectively impotent to confront the powerful emotive appeal of nationalism.

Keywords:   britishness, general Assembly, home Rule, orangeism, ian Paisley, presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), reformed, roman Catholic Church, the Witness

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