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A Religious Vaccination? How Christian Communities React to Right-Wing Populism in Germany, France and the US

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 July 2021

Tobias Cremer*
Affiliation:
Pembroke College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
*
*Corresponding author. Email: tobias.cremer@pmb.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Right-wing populists across Western democracies have markedly increased references to Christianity in recent years. While there is much debate about how and why they have done so, less attention has been paid to how Christian communities react to this development. The present study addresses this gap through a comparative analysis of Christian responses to right-wing populist politics in Germany, France and the US. It relies on quantitative studies, survey data and the qualitative analysis of 39 in-depth interviews with right-wing populist leaders, mainstream party politicians and church officials. The findings of this analysis suggest a potential ‘religious vaccination effect’ among Christian voters against right-wing populism but underline its connection to elite actor behaviour. Specifically, the availability of a ‘Christian alternative’ in the party system, as well as religious leaders’ willingness and ability to create a social taboo around the populist right seem critically to impact religious immunity to populism.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Government and Opposition Limited

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