I believe...

July 5, 1996

"Intensely" is Patrick Collinson's reply to the question of how he experienced religion as a child. "We were an undenominational evangelical Christian family,"he recalls. "Wewere associated with these foreign missionaries, theso-called Faith Missions operating in Muslim countries, and we would go to any church or chapel where they were involved.

"My father was brought up as a Quaker, but he broke away from them; my mother had been with the Church of Scotland. I was supposed to be a missionary - two brothers and one sister became missionaries."

Does Collinson's religious background - heis now an Anglican - have an impact on his work? "Onehas to be methodologically atheist. I have a long-running fencing match with [fellow historian] Eamon Duffy, who resented the label I gave him of 'Catholic historian'. He calls me a Protestant historian, which I suppose I am. There are ways one can't escape from one's background.

"I suppose I have a general difficulty with Catholicism, and a particular difficulty with the more conservative dissenting churches. And I'd probably run a mile from those Puritans that I study if I met them in the street."

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