Religion across the World
World Religious Affiliation
Religious nationalism is the linking of strongly held religious convictions with beliefs about a people's social and political destiny. It combines religion and nationalism, an extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries. Religious nationalism can arise within any religious faith.
Religious nationalists reject the idea of a separation of church and state. They reject secularism. Instead, they believe laws and government should follow their specific religion's teachings and beliefs. Religious nationalists insist upon a strict interpretation of their religion's teachings and beliefs. However, they pick, choose, and reinterpret those teachings and beliefs to serve and justify their own purposes.
Sociologists look for the causes of religious nationalism and the reasons that have sparked the rise. One theory is that religious nationalism is a reaction against secularism and modernity. A related theory is that it is a backlash against rapid social change because of globalization. Another, as in the case of terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam, is that religious nationalism is a reaction against Western culture and the Westernization of their own culture. Western cultures are much different from and typically more secular than many cultures in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Religious nationalism tends to arise in societies that have little religious diversity, although it can arise in any society.
Extreme religious nationalism often leads to violence. The juxtaposition of religion and violence can seem jarring because most religions espouse peace, compassion, and understanding. But sociologists point out that religious nationalists often see themselves in a religious war. They believe their religious and national identities are under attack. They justify the violence as a defense of that identity, casting themselves as good fighting evil.