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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

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

Patrick Mitchel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199256152.003.0008

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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