Creating a Narrative Empathy Among Southern Baptist Leaders: Shaping a New Perception of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Jihad
Charles Wesley Powell Dr. D.Min.
The Southern Baptist denomination is the largest Protestant religious group in the United States. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 there has been an increase of negative rhetoric among Southern Baptists towards Muslims. This thesis-project asks to what extent a lack of narrative empathy towards Muslims can be altered in the life of the Southern Baptist leader thus enabling the leader, consequently the denomination, to better understand and communicate the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as embodiments of spiritual discipline and peaceful living. The theoretical framework and in-depth qualitative interviews provide invaluable insights into the dynamics and use of anti-Islamic rhetoric among Southern Baptists. Concrete strategies of action are proposed, such as strategic personal encounters between Southern Baptists and Muslims which when combined with a better understanding of Islam can help uncover the Southern Baptist denominations preconceived prejudices and misunderstandings of Islam that so often hinder constructive dialogue. This project has crucial practical implications that has not yet received scholarly attention.