Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy
238 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268200602 | May 2021
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268200596 | May 2021
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268200626 | May 2021
Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy highlights the use of religious identity to fuel the rise of illiberal, nationalist, and populist democracy.
In Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy, David Elcott, C. Colt Anderson, Tobias Cremer, and Volker Haarmann present a pragmatic and modernist exploration of how religion engages in the public square. Elcott and his co-authors are concerned about the ways religious identity is being used to foster the exclusion of individuals and communities from citizenship, political representation, and a role in determining public policy. They examine the ways religious identity is weaponized to fuel populist revolts against a political, social, and economic order that values democracy in a global and strikingly diverse world. Included is a history and political analysis of religion, politics, and policies in Europe and the United States that foster this illiberal rebellion.
The authors explore what constitutes a constructive religious voice in the political arena, even in nurturing patriotism and democracy, and what undermines and threatens liberal democracies. To lay the groundwork for a religious response, the book offers chapters showing how Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism can nourish liberal democracy. The authors encourage people of faith to promote foundational support for the institutions and values of the democratic enterprise from within their own religious traditions and to stand against the hostility and cruelty that historically have resulted when religious zealotry and state power combine.
Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy is intended for readers who value democracy and are concerned about growing threats to it, and especially for people of faith and religious leaders, as well as for scholars of political science, religion, and democracy.
David Elcott is the Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and director of the Advocacy and Political Action specialization.
C. Colt Anderson is the outgoing dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University.
Tobias Cremer is a Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford, and a recent Ph.D. from Cambridge.
Volker Haarmann is the chair of the Department of Theology of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland.
"The four writers of Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy, all of them religious, are unusually frank in recognizing the possible affinities between their religions and a nationalist politics. At the same time, they are wonderfully (and thankfully) persuasive in providing an account of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism that can stand alongside and support liberal democracy." —Michael Walzer, author of The Paradox of Liberation
"A timely, constructive, and empirically grounded exploration of the tensions among religion, identity, and liberal democracy in the United States and around the world." —Robert D. Putnam, co-author of American Grace
"Engaging and insightful, Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy helps us recognize the striking patterns of dangerous nationalisms that threaten to divide humanity and distort democracy around the globe. The authors' comparative perspective helps us see our own context in a clearer light, and the activist reading of history and the present ask us, as readers and people of faith, to take action." —Jeannine Hill Fletcher, author of The Sin of White Supremacy
“This is a solid, timely book on a surprisingly neglected topic: the religious views and responses to the rise across the West of national populism. It succeeds at being both a scholarly and an activist and prescriptive look at the Christian and Jewish reactions to the populist surge in the twenty-first century.” —José Pedro Zúquete, author of The Identitarians
"It is vital for citizens of liberal democracies to understand the populist movements that are challenging democracy from within. By explaining how religion has been co-opted by nationalist populism, and by showing how religion can help provide an antidote to populism, this learned and insightful book helps us appreciate the dilemmas of contemporary democratic politics." —Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith
"Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy is an impassioned defense of the sane and sound forms of religion that engender and protect democracy, human rights, and love of neighbor. It is obviously a labor of love produced by those who have lived their lives in support of those values that will mend our broken world." —Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of Churches
"Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy . . . impart[s] a cogent, academic, and rich way of understanding how religion has been turned political weapon; it gives significant advice about what to do to address the problem . . . [and] explains how religious claims have been warped and understood to be more about belonging than believing." —Foreword Reviews (starred review)
"In this trenchant analysis, Elcott . . . teams up with other researchers to explore the ways religion impacts politics in the U.S. and Europe. . . . This is a startling reminder of the insidious potential of religious identity being overtaken by extremist political forces." —Publishers Weekly
"Elcott and his colleagues are to be commended for lobbying that religion, when properly practiced, exposes “divisions between 'us' and 'them' ” not as appeals to purity but exercises in apostasy. Hope, not fear, thus paves the way forward." —The Journal Gazette
“Elcott and his colleagues . . . offer a broad perspective on how religious faith has been misused in the development of national identities. In rich, complex prose, the authors provide examples of how religion has been used for both good and evil in the development of nation states. Indeed, the authors are stark in highlighting the ways in which religious belief has been weaponized to promote intolerance and disenfranchisement.” —The Arlington Catholic Herald
"Elcott and his coauthors have come together across religious and cultural divides and exemplified a clear commitment to liberal democracy. Their work challenges faith leaders and laypersons alike to do the same and join together across seemingly insurmountable boundaries to work towards a global emphasis on human rights and dignity for all people. " —Reading Religion
"This book is a useful primer on how authoritarian leaders manipulate religion to encourage human division, tribalism, and nationalism and how religion offers the means to promote liberal democracy." —Choice