Politics and Religion


On the Public Discourse of Religion: An Analysis of Christianity in the United Kingdom

Steve Kettella1 c1

a1 University of Warwick


Debates over the involvement of religion in the public sphere look set to be one of the defining themes of the 21st century. But while religious issues have attracted a large degree of scholarly attention, the public discourse of religion itself, in terms of the effort to assert and legitimize a role for faith in the public realm, has remained notably under-researched. This article marks an initial step to address this deficiency by deconstructing the public discourse of Christianity in the United Kingdom. It argues that, while appealing for representation on the grounds of liberal equality, the overall goal of this discourse is to establish a role for itself as a principal source of moral authority, and to exempt itself from the evidentially-based standards and criteria that govern public life.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Steve Kettell, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. E-mail: s.kettell@warwick.ac.uk

Steven Kettell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. He is the author of The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy-Making: From the Gold Standard to the Euro and Dirty Politics? New Labour, British Democracy and the Invasion of Iraq. He is also a founder and co-Executive Editor of British Politics. His current research projects are centered on Britain's role in the “war on terror,” and on the relationship between politics and religion in the United Kingdom.


I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editors of Politics and Religion for their useful comments on an earlier version of this paper. I would also like to thank Alison Elliot and Heinrich Bedford-Strohm for their helpful provision of research material.