Saving the People. How Populists Hijack Religion
London : Hurst Publishers
Western democracies, right-wing populism, religion, islam
Western democracies are experiencing a new wave of right-wing populism that seeks to mobilise religion for its own ends. With chapters on the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland and Israel, Saving the People asks how populist movements have used religion for their own ends and how church leaders react to them. The authors contend that religion is more about belonging than belief for populists, with religious identities and traditions being deployed to define who can and cannot be part of ‘the people’. This in turn helps many populists to claim that native Christian communities are being threatened by a creeping and highly aggressive process of Islamisation, with Muslims becoming a key ‘enemy of the people’. While Church elites generally condemn this instrumental use of religions, populists take little heed, presenting themselves as the true saviours of the people. The policy implications of this phenomenon are significant, which makes this book all the more timely and relevant to current debate.