American Society of Church History 2
The past half-century has produced a rich and fraught literature on the relationship between religion and the national community. Whereas previous studies tended to focus only on the relationship between the institutions of “church” and state, Robert Bellah’s important 1968 article argued that national identity itself is rooted in a highly developed “civil religion” constituted by the participation of the general population. Scholarship of nation and religion then turned towards secularism, with Talal Asad and others showing that the secular and the religious are equally foundational to our modern concepts of democracy and citizenship. Recently, the work of scholars like Rogers Brubaker and Genevieve Zubrzycki have highlighted the kaleidoscopic relationships between religion and nationalism, moving beyond established frameworks like civil religion and secularization theory. Continuing this momentum, we offer three historical case studies of religious nationalism that extend beyond national borders, have changed radically over time, or exist in contentious relationship with other nationalist models and faiths. Our aim is to synthesize the historical, cultural, material, and political conditions of these nationalist contexts to consider a new framework for understanding religion and nationalism, that accounts for both particularities as well as broadly shared trends.