Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy is an important text that sheds new light on the global political scene.
Arguing that it is important to separate those who claim religion as a shield from criticism from those who practice religion as a matter of faith, the book uses a recent protest in Germany as an example of how religious claims have been manipulated to authoritarian ends: Islamophobic marchers sang Silent Night during the demonstration, but were present not to honor God; instead, they were pushing an illiberal, antidemocratic agenda.
Antidemocratic leaders and groups, the text shows, often co-opt religious language, traditions, and history to drive their quests for power. Thus, when Trump supporters hear the former president talk about ending corruption, they understand that he means reversing the “moral failings” of the nation (like, from their perspectives, abortion and gay rights), and not addressing grafts or double-dealing. And such rhetoric works, because “when faith is inextricably wedded to the political realm, determining what is true and pure is enigmatic.” In this morass, everything becomes harder to understand—which is very much the point of antidemocratic movements.
The text is skillful when it comes to imparting 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. It highlights the trends used to challenge Catholics, Jews, and Protestants across the world, from the US to Europe. Its work is nuanced and informed, contributing toward its ultimate call for liberal-minded religious people to redouble their efforts to fight for social justice.
Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy is a significant text that explains how religious claims have been warped and understood to be more about belonging than believing.
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