My Books

TransformingPostCatholicCoverTransforming Post-Catholic Ireland: Religious Practice in Late Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland is the first major book to explore the dynamic religious landscape of contemporary Ireland, north and south, and to analyse the island’s religious transition. It confirms that the Catholic Church’s long-standing ‘monopoly’ has well and truly disintegrated, replaced by a mixed, post-Catholic religious ‘market’ featuring new and growing expressions of Protestantism, as well as other religions. It describes how people of faith are developing ‘extra-institutional’ expressions of religion, keeping their faith alive outside or in addition to the institutional Catholic Church.

Drawing on island-wide surveys of clergy and laypeople, as well as more than 100 interviews, this book describes how people of faith are engaging with key issues such as increased diversity, reconciliation to overcome the island’s sectarian past, and ecumenism. It argues that extra-institutional religion is especially well-suited to address these and other issues due to its freedom and flexibility when compared to traditional religious institutions. It describes how those who practice extra-institutional religion have experienced personal transformation, and analyses the extent that they have contributed to wider religious, social, and political change. On an island where religion has caused much pain, from clerical sexual abuse scandals, to sectarian violence, to a frosty reception for some immigrants, those who practice their faith outside traditional religious institutions may hold the key to transforming post-Catholic Ireland into a more reconciled society.

Read the first chapter for free on the Oxford University Press webpage.

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Comments about the Book:

‘In the island of Ireland secularization came late and came fast. Gladys Ganiel offers new ways into this transformation. One such is the concept of “extra-institutional” religion which exists ‘on the margins’. In the course of Ganiel’s empirically driven analyses we meet real people who do real things which matter to themselves and to others. The result is action-research at its very best.’

Professor Grace Davie, Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Religion, University of Exeter

‘The collapse of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been dramatic, but it has not simply left a secular space. Drawing on rich new data, Gladys Ganiel introduces us to the range of “extra-institutional” religion emerging from the wreckage.  Her sharp analysis of what is happening, and her reflections on the significance of these new developments, will be of interest a wide range of readers.’

Professor Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Lancaster University


Journal of Contemporary Religion by Tom Inglis

Reviews in Religion & Theology by Vladimir Kmec

Irish Theological Quarterly Review by Brian Conway

Etudes Irlandaises (Irish Studies) Review by Catherine Maignant

‘Reading Religion’ (website of the American Academy of Religion) Review by Amy Heath-Carpentier

Interview on News Talk FM with Sean Moncrieff

Irish Times Review by Eamon Maher: Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland_ Religious Practice in Late Modernity review

“Essential Reading for Anyone Involved in Christian Church Leadership in Ireland in 2016”: Review by Rev Steve Stockman, Fitzroy Presbyterian in Belfast

Patrick Mitchel: Questions for the Churches from Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland

Report on Author Meets Critics Session in Dublin, April 2016 (Brian Conway, Siobhan Garrigan, Patrick Mitchel)

The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity co-authored with Gerardo Marti

Oxford University Press, 2014 — ORDER ON AMAZON!

deconstructed cover

Winner of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s 2015 Distinguished Book Award

“Christianity is the only mad religion; which is perhaps, the explanation for its survival—it deconstructs itself and survives by deconstructing itself.”  — Jacques Derrida

The Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is a reform movement within Western Christianity that reacts against its roots in conservative evangelicalism by “de-constructing” contemporary expressions of Christianity. Emerging Christians see themselves as overturning out-dated interpretations of the bible, transforming hierarchical religious institutions, and re-orientating Christianity to step outside the walls of church buildings toward working among and serving others in the “real world.”

Drawing on ethnographic observations from emerging congregations, pub churches, neo-monastic communities, conferences, online networks, in-depth interviews, and congregational surveys in the US, UK, and Ireland, this book provides a comprehensive social scientific analysis of the development and significance of the ECM. Emerging Christians are shaping a distinct religious orientation that encourages individualism, deep relationships with others, new ideas around the nature of truth, doubt, and God, and innovations in preaching, worship, Eucharist, and leadership.

More than other expressions of Christianity, the ECM simultaneously reacts against modernity while drawing on distinctly modern conceptions of self and community to produce a form of religiosity well-suited to our era. The significance of the ECM extends far beyond the individuals and congregations that identify with the movement as the imperatives that drive this movement accentuate what is driving the future of Western Christianity.

Comments about the Book:

“As growing numbers of Americans say they are ‘nonreligious,’ observers note a comparable shift among those who are religious toward looser, more individualistic, anti-institutional, experimental expressions of faith. Marti and Ganiel have done a superb job of examining these emerging expressions, illuminating both the practices and beliefs of individuals and the innovative congregations they are forming.”

Robert Wuthnow, Gerhard R. Andlinger ‘52 Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University

“In the midst of a polarized landscape, where ‘religion’ and ‘church’ signal a lack of vitality and authenticity, Emerging Churches are putting together something new out of the debris. Marti and Ganiel show us why we should pay attention. They describe the faith found here as neither shopping nor seeking, but a conversation carried on in congregations that are determinedly open and inclusive. This book provides a careful analysis of this much-discussed movement and shows why it is so well-suited to our times.”

Nancy T. Ammerman, author of Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life

Review by Randall Reed in Church History

Authors Meet Critics at the 2016 American Academy of Religion Meeting, San Antonio

Review by Ralph Kunz in Ecclesial Practices

Freestyle Christianity Podcast

Review by William H. Willimon in The Christian Century

Review by Matthew Guest in Journal of Contemporary Religion

Review by James Spickard in American Journal of Sociology

Review by Stephen Fouse in Religion

Review by Josh Packard in Sociology of Religion

Review by James Wellman on Patheos

Review by Ryan Burge in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 

Review by Travis Cooper on the Religious Studies Project

Review by Alan in Belfast, including audio of a discussion at Fitzroy Presbyterian on ‘What can Northern Ireland Evangelicalism Learn from the Emerging Church?’

Review on Patheos by Bradley Wright

Review on Temoins (Witnesses) Blog (in French)

Authors Meet Critics Session at the 2014 Association for the Sociology of Religion Meeting, San Francisco

Click here to read our interview about the book in Bearings magazine

Feature on Temoins (“Witnesses”) Blog (in French)

Feature on Jesus Dust blog

Feature on Religion in American History blog

You can order the book on:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Religion in Times of Crisis, co-edited with Heidemarie Winkel and Christophe Monnot. Part of the Association for the Sociology of Religion’s ‘Religion and the Social Order’ series, Vol 24

Religion is alive and well all over the world, especially in times of personal, political, and social crisis. religioncrisisEven in Europe, long regarded as the most ‘secular’ continent, religion has taken centre stage in how people respond to the crises associated with modernity, or how they interact with the nation-state. In this book, scholars working in and on Europe offer fresh perspectives on how religion provides answers to existential crisis, how crisis increases the salience of religious identities and cultural polarization, and how religion is contributing to changes in the modern world in Europe and beyond. Cases from Poland to Pakistan and from Ireland to Zimbabwe, among others, demonstrate the complexity and ambivalence of religion’s role in the contemporary world.

Review of Religion in Times of Crisis by Chaminda Weerawardhana in Numen

Launch of Religion in Times of the Crisis at the 2014 ASR Annual Meeting

Evangelical Journeys: Choice and Change in a Northern Irish Religious Subculture, co-authored with Claire Mitchell


This book, co-authored with Dr Claire Mitchell, was published by UCD Press in 2011. It draws on interview material with more than 100 evangelicals. We ask why do people born into the same religious community turn out so differently? We tell the stories of pro-life DUP picketers, liberal peace-campaigning ministers, housewives afraid of the devil, students deconstructing their faith and atheists mortified by their religious past. We explore why people have chosen to go in one religious direction or another, and how their religious journeys have unfolded.

A review of the book in the academic journal Journal of Contemporary Religion, by Neil Southern

A review of the book in the academic journal Irish Journal of Sociology, by Mary Gethins

A review of the book in the academic journal Evangelical Quarterly, by Patrick Mitchel.

A review of the book in the academic journal Sociology of Religion, by Kevin McElmurry

Click here to access remarks by Glenn Jordan at the launch of the book at East Belfast Mission in 2011.

Click here to access remarks by Dr Patrick Mitchel and the launch of the book at the Irish School of Ecumenics in Dublin in 2012

A review of the book by ‘Alan in Belfast’ on the Slugger O’Toole blog

An interview about the book on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence

A review of the book from the Church of Ireland Gazette

You can order the book on the UCD Press Website

Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland

imagewas published by Palgrave in 2008.

Prof. John Brewer of the University of Aberdeen has written about the book:

“This is a remarkable first book by an excellent young scholar. It recognizes the importance of religion to Northern Ireland’s sectarian conflict, while not reducing it to a religious war. Above all, it sees religion as a site of reconciliation as much as contest. It is based on impressive empirical analysis that displays the qualities of her insider knowledge, deriving from Ganiel’s extensive period of fieldwork in the North of Ireland and her own evangelical beliefs, but also her outsider status as a North American social scientist, which gives the volume enormous sensitivity as well as a sense of balance. Evangelicals are a key sector of Northern Irish Protestantism, perhaps the dominant theological position within the Reformed tradition there, and Ganiel documents the transitions that are occurring in evangelical identities in Northern Ireland. The arguments are optimistic for Northern Ireland’s future and fully consistent with the country’s latest political developments. Politics, theology and ethnography elide in this volume in wonderfully fertile ways that make it a pleasure to read.”

Writing in Anthropology News, William Girard says:

“Ganiel presents the world of Northern Ireland’s Evangelical communities in an engaging and convincing manner…The fact that Ganiel documents how these Evangelical communities transform in response to policies of the state underscores her larger critique of the modern secular vision of autonomous social spheres…Ganiel’s book offers an important contribution to the theoretical categories in the anthropology of Evangelicalism.”

The book was launched in Belfast on 15 September 2008 by Canon David Porter, the director of the Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral. Porter said the book challenged evangelicals to think about their commitment to social justice and Christian unity.  He urged evangelicals in Northern Ireland not to retreat into pietism or moralism. The book was launched in Dublin on 26 November 2008 by Prof. Jennifer Todd of the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin. She praised Ganiel’s book for documenting important changes in evangelicalism, demonstrating how change occurs at the micro-level, and recognizing the impact of this on politics.

You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon USA

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