The radical right in Europe

Cultural shifts and religious nativism

Authored by: Michael Minkenberg

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Politics and Ideology

Print publication date:  August  2021
Online publication date:  August  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367417826
eBook ISBN: 9780367816230
Adobe ISBN:


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The return of religion into the political landscape in most liberal democracies and the “resacralization” of politics is accompanied by the return of antiliberal religion and its marriage to nativist ideas and the radical or populist right (Davie, 2010; Haynes, 2014; Hennig and Weiberg-Salzmann, 2020; Marzouki et al., 2016). Yet, in the academic debate about the radical right so far, religion is rarely introduced as an analytical category and only slowly entering the research agenda (for an overview, see Camus, 2011; Minkenberg, 2018a). This article discusses the relationship between religion and radical right ideologies and its role in radical right mobilization in the context of a profound cultural change in European societies since the 1980s. For this purpose, the article offers a concept of right-wing radicalism, which is centred on the idea of antiliberal ultranationalism and nativism and includes religion as a major determinant of out-group/in-group distinctions. It then takes a look at the changing context of the contemporary radical right and finally discusses the programmatic development and organizational profile of major radical right actors, as far as religion is concerned. It is argued that while religious beliefs may not be a core element of radical right ideologies, in an era of accelerated religious and cultural pluralization, religion functions as a proxy for xenophobia in its strategy and mobilization against the perceived threat of rapid sociocultural change and its putative carriers.

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