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Nations under God: How Church–State Relations Shape Christian Responses to Right-Wing Populism in Germany and the United States

Pembroke College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 1DW, UK
Academic Editor: Jocelyne Cesari
Religions 2021, 12(4), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040254
Received: 4 March 2021 / Revised: 30 March 2021 / Accepted: 2 April 2021 / Published: 6 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Right-wing populists across many western countries have markedly intensified their references to Christianity in recent years. However, Christian communities’ reactions to such developments often vary significantly, ranging from disproportionate support in some countries to outspoken opposition in others. This paper explores the role of structural factors, and in particular of Church–State relations, in accounting for some of these differences. Specifically, this article explores how Church–State relations in Germany and the United States have produced different incentives and opportunity structures for faith leaders when facing right-wing populism. Based on quantitative studies, survey data, and 31 in-depth elite interviews, this research suggests that whereas Germany’s system of “benevolent neutrality” encourages highly centralised churches whose leaders perceive themselves as integral part and defenders of the current system, and are therefore both willing and able to create social taboos against right-wing populism, America’s “Wall of separation” favours a de-centralised religious marketplace, in which church leaders are more prone to agree with populists’ anti-elitist rhetoric, and face higher costs and barriers against publicly condemning right-wing populism. Taking such structural factors into greater account when analysing Christian responses to right-wing populism is central to understanding current and future dynamics between politics and religion in western democracies. View Full-Text
Keywords: right-wing populism; religion; nationalism; secularization; church and state; Trumpism; US constitution; civil religion; AfD right-wing populism; religion; nationalism; secularization; church and state; Trumpism; US constitution; civil religion; AfD
MDPI and ACS Style

Cremer, T. Nations under God: How Church–State Relations Shape Christian Responses to Right-Wing Populism in Germany and the United States. Religions 2021, 12, 254. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040254

AMA Style

Cremer T. Nations under God: How Church–State Relations Shape Christian Responses to Right-Wing Populism in Germany and the United States. Religions. 2021; 12(4):254. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040254

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cremer, Tobias. 2021. "Nations under God: How Church–State Relations Shape Christian Responses to Right-Wing Populism in Germany and the United States" Religions 12, no. 4: 254. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040254

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