Nation and Religion: towards Definition of Religious Nationalism

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Abstract


The aim of the article is to study the phenomenon of religious nationalism, i.e. cases when religion and nationalism are closely related and reinforce each other, and religious identity becomes an important and integral part of national identity. The author aims to analyze the political context of cases of religious nationalism in European countries, to describe their essential features and conditions of occurrence, and also to answer the question: are there any political reasons for religious nationalism? Considering the phenomenon of nationalism in the framework of the constructivist approach, the author also employs the methods of comparative analysis, using material from such countries as Ireland, Poland, Greece, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as the Russian case taking place in the Chechen Republic. Summarizing these cases, the author describes the conditions for the emergence of an “alliance” of religion and nationalism. Firstly, it is a religious difference between neighboring communities. Secondly, it is a conflict between them, which contains a threat to identity. In these cases, religion becomes an important marker that distinguishes communities from each other, and begins to perform non-religious functions: the affirmation of national identity, ethnic pride, national honor, protection of sovereignty, and culture. Religious nationalism always stimulates growth of religious commitment of a nation, in which the number of believers may reach 90 percent. But this commitment is not individual, it is not based on a personal choice of faith, but collective and obligatory. Religious affiliation is dictated by loyalty to the nation.


About the authors

Alexey V. Sitnikov

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Author for correspondence.
Email: sitnikov-av@ranepa.ru
84, Prospekt Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119571, Russian Federation

Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, Professor of the Department of State-Confessional Relations

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