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How do people of faith use language to position themselves, and their beliefs and practices, in the contemporary world? This pioneering and original study looks closely at how Christians and Muslims talk to people inside and outside of their own communities about what they think are the right things to believe and do. From debates, to podcasts and YouTube videos, the book covers a range of engaging texts and contexts, showing how doctrine and beliefs are not nearly as fixed and static as we might think, and that people are prone to change what they say they believe, depending on who they are talking to. From abortion, to hell, to whether it's okay to sell alcohol, Pihlaja investigates how Christians and Muslims struggle with different elements of their own faith, and try to make decisions about what to do when there are so many different voices to believe.
In the online world, people argue about anything and everything - religion is no exception. Stephen Pihlaja investigates how several prominent social media figures present views about religion in an environment where their positions are challenged. The analysis shows how conflict creates a space for users to share, explain, and develop their opinions and beliefs, by making appeals to both a core audience of like-minded viewers and a broader audience of viewers who are potentially interested in the claims, ambivalent, or openly hostile. The book argues that in the back-and-forth of these arguments, the positions that users take in response to the arguments of others have consequences for how religious talk develops, and potentially for how people understand and practice their beliefs in the twenty-first century. Based on original empirical research, it addresses long-debated questions in sociolinguistics and discourse analysis regarding the role of language in building solidarity, defining identity and establishing genres and registers of interaction.