Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy

David Elcott et al. Univ. of Notre Dame, $40 (188p) ISBN 978-0-268-20060-2
In this trenchant analysis, Elcott, a professor of public service at NYU, teams up with other researchers to explore the ways religion impacts politics in the U.S. and Europe. The main areas of concern are how religious ideology can form a bully pulpit, galvanize political viewpoints, and be used to exclude marginalized communities. The authors spend much time tracing the historical roots of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism, and posit that "religion" in political terms doesn't mean beliefs or rituals, but "identity, nostalgic symbols, an incarnated sensibility in which God is manifest in land and flags, history and tradition." Citing examples such as Trump's "Muslim ban" or the banning of headscarves in France and Germany, the authors contend that religion has had a resurgence on the secular global political stage: "Religious identity is a vital talisman of national identity found at the core of most self-defined illiberal movements, such as Catholic Law and Justice in Poland or the Christian Coalition in the United States." The authors also offer an array of solutions to stem the tide of illiberal democracies, particularly focusing on encouraging religious leaders to challenge dangerous political rhetoric, work on behalf of immigrants and refugees, and speak out against religious extremism within their own faiths. This is a startling reminder of the insidious potential of religious identity being overtaken by extremist political forces. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/25/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Religion
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