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Religious nationalism

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Title: Religious nationalism  
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Subject: Nationalism, Types of nationalism, Civic nationalism, Ethnic nationalism, Left-wing nationalism
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Religious nationalism

Religious nationalism is the relationship of nationalism to a particular religious belief, dogma, or affiliation. This relationship can be broken down into two aspects; the politicisation of religion and the influence of religion on politics.[1]

In the former aspect, a shared religion can be seen to contribute to a sense of national unity, a common bond among the citizens of the nation. Another political aspect of religion is the support of a national identity, similar to a shared ethnicity, language or culture. The influence of religion on politics is more ideological, where current interpretations of religious ideas inspire political activism and action; for example, laws are passed to foster stricter religious adherence.[2]

Ideologically-driven religious nationalism may not necessarily be targeted against other religions per se, but can be articulated in response to modernity and in particular, secular nationalism. Indeed, religious nationalism may articulate itself as the binary of secular nationalism. Nation-states whose boundaries and borders are relatively recent, or who have experienced colonialism may be more prone to religious nationalism, which may stand as a more authentic or “traditional” rendering of identity. Thus, there was a global rise of religious nationalism in the wake of the end of the cold war, but also as postcolonial politics (facing considerable developmental challenges, but also dealing with the reality of colonially-defined – and therefore somewhat artificial borders) become challenged. In such a scenario, appealing to a national sense of Islamic identity, as in the case of Pakistan and Indonesia, may serve to override regional tensions.

The danger is that when the state derives political legitimacy from adherence to religious doctrines, this may leave an opening to overtly religious elements, institutions and leaders, to make the appeals to religion more ‘authentic’ by bringing more explicitly theological interpretations to political life. Thus, appeals to religion as a marker of ethnicity creates an opening for more strident, ideological interpretations of religious nationalism.

Many ethnic and cultural nationalisms include religious aspects, but as a marker of group identity, rather than the intrinsic motivation for nationalist claims.


  • Christian 1
    • Polish 1.1
    • Russian 1.2
  • Islamic 2
    • Pakistani 2.1
    • Turkish 2.2
  • Jewish 3
  • Hindu 4
  • East Asian 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Christian nationalists focus more on internal politics, such as passing laws that reflect their view of Christianity. In the United States, Christian nationalism tends to be conservative.


In Poland, nationalism was always characterized by loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church. Groups like the National Revival of Poland use slogans like Polska Wielka Katolicka (Great Catholic Poland) and protest vigorously against legalization of gay marriage and abortion.[3]

On the other hand, conservative religious groups connected with Radio Maryja are often accused of harboring nationalist and antisemitic attitudes.[4]


Religious nationalism characterized by communal adherence to Eastern Orthodoxy and national Orthodox Churches is found in many states of Eastern Europe and in the Russian Federation. Many Russian Neo-Fascist and Neo-Nazi groups such as the Russian National Unity call for an increased role for the Russian Orthodox Church.



Pakistani nationalism is very closely associated with Muslim heritage, the religion of Islam and pan-Islamism as described in Two-Nation Theory. It also refers to the consciousness and expression of religious and ethnic influences that help mould the national consciousness.


The Nationalist Movement Party tried to reach out to practicing Muslims. The party promised to end the ban on females wearing the hijab at government institutions (most pertinent at universities and a very contentious issue in Turkish politics), the opening of Qur'an schools and its mandatory teaching and a number of other measures that would appeal to Muslims.


Religious Zionism is a form of religious nationalism that stresses the importance of the Land of Israel, the Torah of Israel, and the Nation of Israel. Zionism itself is a form of nationalism of Jews and Jewish culture.


Given the extensive linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity of the Indian population,[5] nationalism in India in general does not fall within the purview of a solitary variant of nationalism. Indians may identify with their nation on account of civic,[6] cultural or third-world nationalism. Some commentators have expressed the idea that, in modern India, a contemporary form of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva has been endorsed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, although it is not subscribed to by the majority of Indians.[7]

East Asian

In Korean peninsula the Donghak movement and its leader Choe Je-u were inspired by Korean Catholic missionaries. However, they condemned the 'Western learning' preached by missionaries and contrasted it with the indigenous 'Eastern learning'. They started a rebellion in 1894 at Jeolla province in the southwestern Korea. The rebellion was eventually crushed by Chinese and Japanese troops with Korean court's request causing 300 000 fatalities. It is comparable to the millenarian Taiping revolution led by Hong Xiuquan who was also inspired by Catholic missionaries. The Donghak movement served as a template for the later Daejonggyo and Jeungsan-gyo movements, as well as for other religious nationalist movements. The Buddhist influenced Daejonggyo movement financed guerillas in Manchuria during Japanese colonial rule of both Korea and Manchuria. The North Korean state ideology Juche is sometimes classified as a religion by the United States Department of State human rights reports.[8]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark. "The Worldwide Rise of Religious Nationalism",Journal of International Affairs, Summer 1996, 50, 1.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ India, a Country Study,United States Library of Congress, Note on Ethnic groups
  6. ^ [1],"BBC Article, India's model democracy"
  7. ^
  8. ^
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