Defenders of the faith: why right-wing populists are embracing religion BY TOBIAS CREMER for New Statesman
GNN Note – I agree with a lot of what the authors presents, but not all. Populist are trying to save their countries, heritage and culture and their Christian faith is a big part of what they are fighting for.
Populist leaders style themselves as protectors of Christianity while revolting against immigration and “the liberalism of the rich”.
In front of secular Dresden’s baroque Frauenkirche, a large crowd has gathered. Many are carrying oversized crosses; others candles. Occasionally Christmas carols and church hymns are intoned. A few hundred kilometres to the west, in Paris, the former capital of laïcité (secularism), thousands of people rally in veneration of a Catholic saint, while in Milan a speaker addresses supporters as “apostles” and swears on the Bible to “put the gospel into action”. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a Florida pastor bears witness to what he calls “a deeply religious experience”, as several thousand activists begin their gathering by reciting the Lord’s prayer and singing “God bless the USA”.
What’s remarkable about these events is that none of them occurred during any kind of religious service or gathering. Instead, they were organised by right-wing populist movements: the first happened during a demonstration by the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” (Pegida) in Dresden, the second during the annual commemoration march for Joan of Arc by the Front National in Paris, the third at a campaign speech of the Lega leader Matteo Salvani in Milan, and the fourth during a Donald Trump rally.
These events are symptomatic of two broader trends taking hold in many western democracies: first, the rise of right-wing populism, and second, the resurgence of religion, which – over a century after Nietzsche declared that “God is dead” – is again fundamentally reshaping politics.