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Religious nationalism can be understood in a number of ways, such as nationalism as a religion itself, a position articulated by Carlton Hayes in his text Nationalism: A Religion, or as the relationship of nationalism to a particular religious belief, dogma, ideology, 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 borders are relatively recent or that 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) became challenged. In such a scenario, appealing to a national sense of Islamic identity, as in the case of Pakistan (see two-nation theory), 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, making the appeals to religion more 'authentic' by bringing more explicitly theological interpretations to political life. Thus, appeals to religion as a marker of ethnicity create an opening for more strident and 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.

Buddhist nationalism

See also: Category:Buddhist nationalism

Buddhist Nationalism is mainly prevalent and influential in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and is also present in Cambodia and Thailand.[3]

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism is a political ideology that combines a focus on Sinhalese culture and ethnicity with an emphasis on Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority belief system of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.

The Patriotic Association of Myanmar and 969 movement have the goal to "organise and protect" the Burman people and their Buddhist religion, which is influenced by Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar.

Christian nationalism

Main article: Christian nationalism

Christian nationalists focus more on internal politics, such as passing laws that reflect their view of Christianity. In countries with a state Church, Christian nationalists, in seeking to preserve the status of a Christian state, uphold an antidisestablishmentarian position.[4][5][6] They actively promote religious (Christian) discourses in various fields of social life, from politics and history to culture and science; with respect to legislation for example, Christian nationalists advocate Sunday blue laws.[7] Distinctive radicalized forms of religious nationalism or clerical nationalism (clero-nationalism or clerico-nationalism) were emerging on the far-right of the political spectrum in various European countries especially during the interwar period in the first half of the 20th century.[8]

Hindu nationalism

Main articles: Hindu nationalism, Hindutva, and Indian nationalism

Given the extensive linguistic, religious, and ethnic diversity of the Indian population,[15] 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,[16] cultural, or third-world nationalism. Commentators have noted that in modern India, a contemporary form of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, has been endorsed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.[17]

Hindutva (meaning "Hinduness"), a term popularised by Hindu nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923, is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India.[18] Hindutva is championed by right-wing Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), widely regarded as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's parent organisation, along with its affiliate organisations, notably the Vishva Hindu Parishad.

Islamic nationalism

Main articles: Islam and nationalism, Islamic state, and Muslim nationalism in South Asia

Unlike the secular form of nationalism which is espoused in most other countries, Pakistani nationalism is religious in nature, consisting of Islamic nationalism. Religion was the basis of the Pakistani nationalist narrative. (see Secularism in Pakistan)[19] Pakistani nationalism is closely associated with Muslim heritage, the religion of Islam, and it is also associated with Pan-Islamism, as it is described in the Two-nation theory. It also refers to the consciousness and the expression of religious and ethnic influences that help mould the national consciousness. Pakistan has been called a "global center for political Islam".[20] Hamas is a party which mixes Palestinian nationalism with Islamism. Turkish-Islamic nationalism and Kurdish-Islamic nationalism are more examples of religious nationalism. Jaish ul-Adl mixes Baloch nationalism with Islam. The Taliban's ideology combines Islamism with Pashtunwali. Somali Islamist movement Al-Shabaab incorporates Somali religious nationalism and anti-imperialism into its Salafi Jihadist ideology.[21][22]

Nationalism in modern paganism

Paganism resurfaces as a topic of fascination in 18th to 19th-century Romanticism, in particular in the context of the literary Viking revivals, which portrayed historical Celtic, Slavic and Germanic polytheists as noble savages.

Romanticist interest in non-classical antiquity coincided with the rise of Romantic nationalism and the rise of the nation state in the context of the 1848 revolutions, leading to the creation of national epics and national myths for the various newly formed states. Pagan or folkloric topics were also common in the musical nationalism of the period.[23][24]

Organisations such as the Armanen-Orden represent significant developments in neo-pagan esotericism and Ariosophy after World War II, but they do not all constitute forms of Nazi esotericism. Some northern European neopagan groups, such as Theods, Ásatrúarfélagið, and Viðartrúar, have explicitly stated that neo-Nazism is not common among their members.

Jewish nationalism

Main article: Religious Zionism

Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Orthodox Judaism. Before the establishment of the State of Israel, most Religious Zionists were observant Jews who supported Zionist efforts to rebuild a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. After the Six-Day War, and the capture of the West Bank, right-wing supporters of the Religious Zionist movement integrated themselves into Israeli nationalism and they eventually founded a new movement which evolved into Neo-Zionism, the ideology of Neo-Zionism revolves around three pillars: the Land of Israel, the People of Israel, and the Torah of Israel.[25]


Main article: State Shinto

The "State Shinto" term was used to categorize, and promote, Imperial Japanese practices that relied on Shinto to support Japan's nationalistic ideology.[26]: 133 [27]: 97  By refusing to ban Shinto practices outright, Japan's post-war constitution was thus able to preserve full freedom of religion.[26]: 133 


Main article: Khalistan movement

The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, called Khālistān ('Land of the Khalsa'), in the Punjab region.[28] The proposed state would consist of land that currently forms Punjab, India, and Punjab, Pakistan.[29]

Other religious movements and nationalism

In the 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 in Jeolla province in southwestern Korea. 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 in the United States Department of State's human rights reports.[30]

See also


  1. ^ Xypolia, Ilia (2011). "Cypriot Muslims among Ottomans, Turks and British" (PDF). Bogazici Journal. 25 (2): 109–120. doi:10.21773/boun.25.2.6. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  2. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark. "The Worldwide Rise of Religious Nationalism", Journal of International Affairs, Summer 1996, 50, 1.
  3. ^ Keyes, Charles (October 2016). "Theravada Buddhism and Buddhist Nationalism: Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand". The Review of Faith & International Affairs. 14 (4): 41–52. doi:10.1080/15570274.2016.1248497. ISSN 1557-0274. S2CID 151536340.
  4. ^ Bloomberg, Charles (1989). Christian Nationalism and the Rise of the Afrikaner Broederbond in South Africa, 1918-48. Springer. p. xxiii-11. ISBN 978-1-349-10694-3.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Jack (2 August 2019). "Christian leaders condemn Christian nationalism in new letter". Religion News Service. Retrieved 14 March 2020. Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State...
  6. ^ Kymlicka, Will (19 April 2018). "Is there a Christian Pluralist Approach to Immigration?". Comment Magazine. Retrieved 14 March 2020. As against both Christian nationalists who wanted an established church and French-republican-style secular nationalists who wanted a homogenous public square devoid of religion, Dutch pluralists led by Kuyper defended a model of institutional pluralism or "sphere sovereignty."
  7. ^ Moleah, Alfred T. (1993). South Africa: Colonialism, Apartheid and African Dispossession. Disa Press. p. 377. ISBN 978-0-913255-02-5.
  8. ^ Feldman et al.
  9. ^ Snyder, Louis L. (1990). Encyclopedia of Nationalism. St. James Press. p. 282. ISBN 978-1-55862-101-5. Major religions in the past, especially Christianity, have attempted to include all their adherents in a large union, but they have not been successful. Throughout most of the Middle Ages in Western Europe, attempts were made again and again to unite all the Christian world into a kind of Pan-Christianity, which would combine all Christians in a secular-religious state as a successor to the Roman Empire.
  10. ^ Snyder, Louis Leo (1984). Macro-nationalisms: A History of the Pan-movements. Greenwood Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-313-23191-9. Throughout the better part of the Middle Ages, elaborate attempts were made to create what was, in effect, a Pan-Christianity, an effort to unite "all" the Western Christian world into a successor state of the Roman Empire.
  11. ^ Parole de l'Orient, Volume 30. Université Saint-Esprit. 2005. p. 488.
  12. ^ Lewis, Bernard Ellis; Churchill, Buntzie Ellis (2008). Islam: The Religion and the People. Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-13-271606-2.
  13. ^ "Małopolska za życiem!". Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Antisemitism Worldwide 2004 - Poland". Archived from the original on 2006-01-05. Retrieved 2006-02-06.
  15. ^ India, a Country Study, United States Library of Congress, Note on Ethnic groups
  16. ^ "India's model democracy". 15 August 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  17. ^ van der Veer, Peter (1994). Religious nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  18. ^ "Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism said Savarkar".
  19. ^ Ahmed, Ishtiaq (27 May 2016). "The dissenters". The Friday Times. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  20. ^ Ḥaqqānī, Husain (2005). Pakistan: between mosque and military. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. p. 131. ISBN 0-87003-214-3. Retrieved 23 May 2010. Zia ul-Haq is often identified as the person most responsible for turning Pakistan into a global center for political Islam. ...
  21. ^ Makhaus, Ken (August 2009). "Somalia: What went Wrong?". The RUSI Journal. 154 (4): 8. doi:10.1080/03071840903216395. S2CID 219626653.
  22. ^ Allen, William; Gakuo Mwangi, Oscar (25 March 2021). "Al-Shabaab". Oxford Research Encyclopedias: African History. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.013.785. ISBN 978-0-19-027773-4. Archived from the original on 29 December 2022. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  23. ^ Bourne, Lois Dancing with Witches. (2006) London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7090-8074-3. p.38. (Hardback edition first published 1998).
  24. ^ Shnirelman 1998 Neo-paganism and nationalism. Eastern European area
  25. ^ Adriana Kemp, Israelis in Conflict: Hegemonies, Identities, and Challenges, Sussex Academic Press, 2004, pp. 314–315.
  26. ^ a b Hardacre, Helen (1991). Shintō and the state, 1868–1988 (1st paperback print. ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691020525.
  27. ^ Shimazono, Susumu (2005-12-01). "State Shinto in the Lives of the People: The Establishment of Emperor Worship, Modern Nationalism, and Shrine Shinto in Late Meiji". Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 73 (4): 1077–1098. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfi115.
  28. ^ Kinnvall, Catarina. 2007. "Situating Sikh and Hindu Nationalism in India." In Globalization and Religious Nationalism in India: The Search for Ontological Security, (Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics 46). London: Routledge. ISBN 9781134135707.
  29. ^ Shah, Mehtab Ali (1997), The Foreign Policy of Pakistan: Ethnic Impacts on Diplomacy 1971–1994, I.B.Tauris, ISBN 9781860641695
  30. ^ Jasper Becker (1 May 2005). Rogue Regime : Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea. Oxford University Press. pp. 78–80. ISBN 978-0-19-803810-8.


Further reading

  1. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark (2010-06-01). "The global rise of religious nationalism". Australian Journal of International Affairs. 64 (3): 262–273. doi:10.1080/10357711003736436. ISSN 1035-7718. S2CID 154834714.
  2. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark (1996). "The Worldwide Rise of Religious Nationalism". Journal of International Affairs. 50 (1): 1–20. ISSN 0022-197X. JSTOR 24357402.