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Knorre, Boris, and Tobias Koellner. “Patriotism, Nationalism, Illiberalism in Their Relation to Religion: A Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Religions 13, no. 9 (2022): 772.


This article is the introduction to an interdisciplinary Special Issue and serves two purposes. On the one hand, it reviews and analyzes the literature on patriotism, nationalism and illiberalism in relation to religion. On the other, it introduces the individual contributions in the volume. For this, the authors in their articles take a fresh look at the main approaches and emphasize the close relationship between religious fundamentalism, the rise of nationalist movements and the strengthening of authoritarian tendencies available in contemporary academic thought. In so doing, they also address the question of whether there is an “elective affinity” between nationalism and religion but have to answer this negatively because similar phenomena can be found in cultural religion and within atheist groups. Overall, the authors take substantial efforts to show the main patterns and use the latest explanatory models for discussing the separation of national groups, notions of belonging and demarcation in great detail. For the analysis, they also draw attention to the general tendencies towards re-enchantment, de-privatization of religion or the coming of a postsecular era and religious mythologization of national culture. Among others, the texts analyze trends towards the sacralization of territories and the “deification of the native space” as common to post-secular processes. In this context, it is also worth pointing to the inextricable link to religious fundamentalism, a Manichean worldview, millenarianism and militarization. The authors also point to strategies for the transformation of religious fundamentalism into the form of political religions. In many cases, this is accompanied by mobilizationism as a socio-cultural attitude and securitization, as well as the adaptation by religious communities to certain political concepts and ideologies for their political goals, for example, when Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” is used by Orthodox and other religious groups. Last but not least, it is also worth pointing to an increase in authoritarianism, fundamentalism and illiberalism in the overall relationship between the nation and religion.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.