Religious Studies

profile image for Professor Gordon Lynch

Professor Gordon Lynch

Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology


Office: Cornwallis North West 210


My research focuses on meanings and values that shape contemporary life, whether these take conventionally religious forms or not. In my earlier work this led me to explore the ways that media and popular culture as sites of 'religious' meaning, as well as new forms of progressive religion in the West.

More recently, my focus has shifted to the ways in which modern societies are still influenced by symbols of the morally-pure sacred and the evil-profane. This has involved thinking about the role that morally-charged stories and images play in contemporary life, including the ways that certain ideas, people or actions are understood as socially polluting. This again has led me to think about the ways in which public media circulate stories in terms of the sacred and the profane, as well as influential forms of the sacred in the modern world such as nationalism and humanitarianism.

A central concern in this work has been to explore how powerful moral motivations can lead to policies and actions that are socially harmful. Building on an initial case study of the abuse and neglect of children within the Irish industrial school system, I have become increasingly interested in child welfare initiatives delivered by governments, charities and religious organizations that were once considered morally legitimate but have since become the focus of moral censure. I am also interested in how public acts of memory for historic child abuse operate as projects of moral repair. My latest book project, Remembering Child Migration, examines the ways in which the humanitarian motivations of child migration schemes in American and Britain were implicated in the suffering that children experienced through them. Alongside the book, I am the academic curator of ‘On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants’, an exhibition running at the V&A Museum of Childhood from October 2015 until June 2016, and have helped to lead a music project, The Ballads of Child Migration, which has created new songs by leading British folk musicians reflecting children’s experiences of these schemes. This work has been substantially helped by an AHRC Follow-On Funding award.

I have a range of experience in taking academic research to wider public audiences. I have written for The Guardian, and have a longstanding collaboration with TrueTube, a leading provider of free on-line educational materials for religious education, citizenship and PSHE at Key Stages 3 and 4. The work with TrueTube has so far led to four films on my work on the sacred, used by over 60,000 students, and a recent film on the Magdalene Laundries which won a national Learning on Screen award in 2014. A new film with them on the British child migration schemes will be released in autumn 2015.

My doctoral students work broadly in the cultural study of religion, and I am particularly interested in projects exploring moral meanings in social life. I am the lead supervisor for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award project exploring women's experiences of living and working in Magdalene Laundries in post-independence Ireland and have previously supervised two other AHRC CDA projects to completion. Current and recent topics for my PhD students include the study of conservative Evangelical subjectivities, ordinary ethics in the context of student activism at British universities in relation to Palestine-Israel, visitor engagement with religious objects at the British Museum, the meanings and uses of 'natural birth', the role of PR in the construction of media narratives about Islam and the transmission of Catholicism in a secondary school. Current and former students have won AHRC awards on student-led funding streams and have gone on to post-doctoral posts and fellowships.

I have previously served as co-chair of the Media, Religion and Culture group within the American Academy of Religion, chair of the Sociology of Religion study group within the BSA, and am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Lynch, G. (2012). The Sacred in the Modern World: A Cultural Sociological Approach. [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2012). On the Sacred. [Online]. London: Acumen. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2007). New Spirituality: An Introduction to Belief Beyond Religion. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Lynch, G. (2004). Understanding Theology and Popular Culture. Oxford: Blackwell.
Lynch, G. (2003). Losing My Religion: Exploring the Process of Moving on from Evangelical Faith. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
Lynch, G. (2002). Pastoral Care and Counselling. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Lynch, G. (2002). After Religion: 'Generation X' and the Search for Meaning. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
Edited book
Lynch, G. and Lövheim, M. (2011). The Mediatisation of Religion. [Journal]. Lynch, G. and Lövheim, M. eds. Taylor and Francis. Available at:
Lynch, G., Mitchell, J. and Strhan, A. eds. (2011). Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lynch, G. ed. (2007). Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Foskett, J. and Lynch, G. (2001). Pastoral Counselling in Britain. [Special Issue of Journal]. Lynch, G. and Foskett, J. eds. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lynch, G. and Lees, J. eds. (1999). Clinical Counselling in Pastoral Settings. London: Routledge.
Lynch, G. (2014). Saving the Child for the Sake of the Nation: Moral Framing and the Civic, Moral and Religious Redemption of Children. American Journal of Cultural Sociology [Online] 2:165-196. Available at:
Day, A. and Lynch, G. (2013). Introduction: Belief as Cultural Performance.: Special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Religion, 28:2, edited by Gordon Lynch and Abby Day. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Special Issue of Journal] 28:199-206. Available at:
Lynch, G. and Sheldon, R. (2013). The Sociology of the Sacred: A Conversation with Jeffrey Alexander. Culture and Religion [Online] 14:253-267. Available at:
Lövheim, M. and Lynch, G. (2011). The Mediatisation of Religion Debate: An Introduction. Culture and Religion [Online] 12:111-117. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2011). What can we Learn from the Mediatisation of Religion Debate? Culture and Religion [Online] 12:203-210. Available at:
Beck, G. and Lynch, G. (2009). ‘We Are All One, We Are All Gods’: Negotiating Spirituality in the Conscious Partying Movement. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 24:339-355. Available at:
Campbell, H., Lynch, G. and Ward, P. (2009). “Can You Hear the Army?” Exploring Evangelical Discourse in Scottish Youth Prayer Meetings. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 24:219-236. Available at:
Lynch, G. and Badger, E. (2006). The Mainstream Post-Rave Club Scene As a Secondary Institution: A British Perspective. Culture and Religion [Online] 7:27-40. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2006). The Role of Popular Music in the Construction of Alternative Spiritual Identities and Ideologies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion [Online] 45:481-488. Available at:
Lynch, G. and Pattison, S. (2005). Exploring Positive Learning Experiences in the Context of Practical Theological Education. Teaching Theology and Religion [Online] 8:144-154. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1998). Counselling and the Dislocation of Representation and Reality. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling [Online] 26:525-531. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1998). The Application of Self-psychology to Short-term Counselling. Psychodynamic Counselling [Online] 4:473-485. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1997). Therapeutic Theory and Social Context: A Social Constructionist Perspective. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling [Online] 25:5-15. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1997). The Oedipus Complex in the Work of Sigmund Freud and Heinz Kohut: A Post-modern Critique. Psychodynamic Counselling [Online] 3:371-385. Available at:
Book section
Lynch, G. and Brown, C. (2012). Cultural Perspectives. in: Woodhead, L. and Catto, R. eds. Religion and Change in Modern Britain. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 329-351.
Lynch, G. (2012). Media and the Sacred: An Evaluation of the ‘Strong Program’ within Cultural Sociology. in: Gillespie, M., Herbert, D. E. J. and Greenhill, A. eds. Social Media, Religion and Spirituality. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co, pp. 16-35.
Lynch, G. (2012). Living with Two Cultural Turns: The Case of the Study of Religion. in: Roseneil, S. and Frosh, S. eds. Social Research after the Cultural Turn. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 73-92. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2010). Generation X Religion: A Critical Approach. in: Collins-Mayo, S. and Dandelion, P. eds. Religion and Youth. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 33-38.
Lynch, G. (2009). Object Theory: Toward an Intersubjective, Mediated and Dynamic Theory of Religion. in: Morgan, D. ed. Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 40-55. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2009). Religion, Media and Cultures of Everyday Life. in: Hinnells, J. ed. The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 543-557.
Lynch, G. (2009). Cultural Theory and Cultural Studies. in: Lyden, J. ed. The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 275-291.
Lynch, G. (2008). Religious Experience and Popular Culture: Developing a Critical Frame of Enquiry. in: Zock, T. H. ed. At the Crossroads of Art and Religion: Imagination, Commitment, Transcendence. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers, pp. 71-84.
Lynch, G. (2008). The Dreams of the Autonomous and Reflexive Self: Exploring the Religious Significance of Contemporary Lifestyle Media. in: Spalek, B. and Imtoual, A. eds. Religion, Spirituality and the Social Sciences: Challenging Marginalisation. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 63-76.
Lynch, G. (2007). Film and the Subjective Turn: How the Sociology of Religion can Contribute to Theological Readings of Film. in: Johnston, R. K. ed. Reframing Theology and Film: New Focus for an Emerging Discipline. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, pp. 109-125.
Lynch, G. (2007). What is This “Religion” in the Study of Religion and Popular Culture? in: Lynch, G. ed. Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture. London: I B Tauris & Co Ltd, pp. 125-142.
Lynch, G. (2006). Beyond Conversion: Exploring the Process of Moving Away from Evangelical Christianity. in: Partridge, C. and Reid, H. eds. Finding and Losing Faith: Studies in Conversion. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, pp. 23-38.
Lynch, G. (2005). Theologie säkularer Kultur. in: Betz, H. D. et al. eds. Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
Lynch, G. and Pattison, S. (2005). Pastoral and Practical Theology. in: Ford, D. F. and Muers, R. eds. The Modern Theologians. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 408-426.
Lynch, G. (2015). British Child Migration to Australia: A Historical Overview. Child Migration Project.
Total publications in KAR: 41 [See all in KAR]
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Gordon Lynch teaches modules on the sacred and on the sociology of religion.

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Religious Studies, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or email Religious Studies

Last Updated: 01/08/2016