By Jyl Hall Smith
Lately I have been working with International Leadership Focus on webinars to discuss the dangers of Christian Nationalism in the U.S. Thankfully there are other American Christians taking public stands against this problem. However, one thing sometime missed in U.S. discussions on Christian Nationalism is how much it is growing around the world.
In one of our webinars Camilla Bocaniala led with some information on instances of nationalistic growth outside of the U.S. This is important for Americans to know, because our media coverage of foreign affairs has gone down exponentially in the last twenty years. Camilla shared the following:
- In Hungary, President Victor Orban has sought to consolidate authoritarian rule, through anti-refugee populism framed as rescue of the Christian nation from “Muslim invasion”. In effect, Hungary has become the first ever non-democratic country in the EU.
- In Poland, the conservative government managed to secure re-election based on a platform of “sacred tradition”. The government has followed through with their promises, instituting LGBTQ-free zones and criminalizing abortion. It has created enormous tensions, pitting the religious right against the more liberal-minded. Many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Poles have recently emigrated to escape persecution.
- In Italy and Austria, political leaders have used more or less explicit Catholic symbols in order to foster anti-Muslim Christian tribalism. In the name of this anti-muslim Christian tribalism, Mr. Salvini, in his role as Italian Minister of Interior, spearheaded an anti-immigration policy that barred humanitarian rescue ships from Italian ports . Just last year, at least 979 migrants died in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean, and this is only counting those we’re aware of. Between 2014 and 2018, for instance, about 12 thousand people who drowned were never found (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1082077/deaths-of-migrants-in-the-mediterranean-sea/).
- In France and the Netherlands, right-wing populists like Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders resort to language that presents ‘Judeo-Christianity’ (a term coined in the 1820s which gained traction after World War II) as a pillar of the European enlightenment and civilization. Marine Le Pen and her party, the National Front, has certainly had an ambivalent relationship with the church. Still, Le Pen invokes the heritage of the Church to explain the core of her nation’s identity. Rogers Brubaker, a sociologist at the University of California, LA, states that Le Pen’s brand of Christianity as a form of identity has emerged in response to widespread Muslim immigration into the country over the last 10 or 15 years: In her view, “We are Christians,” Brubaker said, “precisely because they are Muslims. Otherwise, we are not Christian in any substantive sense.” Over the last few years, Marie Le Pen has successfully managed to rid the party of its anti-semitic reputation, and attract more religious voters, particularly Catholics.
Some of the most poignant nationalism I have seen is in the Balkans where we lived for three years. Serbian Christian Nationalism of course led to genocide in the 90’s and is increasing again.
There is also the pop-culture example of Megxit in the UK that is revealing growing nationalism and ethnocentrism in England as well. Of course, British nationalism is best illustrated through Brexit.
My guess is the that the international growth of Christian Nationalism is due to the growth of globalism. Countries are increasingly confronted with cultures outside of the dominant culture and are responding with ethnocentrism. What do you think is causing the growth of nationalism? Comment below.