Across the globe we have witnessed particular Christian theological views, often seen as conservative or traditional (but which are often modern innovations) manifesting in various ways that hinder public order or democratic norms. Earlier this year it was revealed that a young Singaporean Christian had planned to attack mosques in Singapore. Elsewhere in the world we have seen Christian ideology becoming increasingly entwined with party politics and individuals’ political identities.
While far-right extremism is often based in race or nationalism, this is frequently combined with religious narratives. Christian Far-Right Extremism (CFRE) is not just a sub-section, but cuts across many groups and ideologies. For instance, in claiming to defend Europe from Islamisation, appeals are often made to a defence of “Judeo-Christian” values. Anti-immigrant rhetoric often targets those perceived as Muslims rather than those seen as Christians. Race, civilisation, and religion overlap with discourses on whiteness, European civilisation, and Christianity. How far Christian theological motifs are central varies between groups but are almost always part of wider enabling worldviews.
This webinar aims to provide participants with a better understanding of CFRE. Our esteemed panellists will approach CFRE from multiple angles, including theology, religious studies, conspiracy theory studies, and political science. They will dig deeper into some key issues important in understanding CFRE groups, rationales, and justifications as they relate to religion and within wider far-right worldviews.
Matthew Feldman is a specialist on fascist ideology and the far-right in Europe and the USA. He has written widely on these subjects, for both academic and general audiences. He has long researched the interaction between politics and faith in the modern world, and has taught these subjects for some two decades to school, undergraduate and postgraduate students. An Emeritus Professor in the History of Modern Ideas, he is also a Visiting Professor at Richmond, the American University in London and a Professorial Fellow at the University of York, having previously held fellowships at the universities of Bergen (Norway), Birmingham and Oxford (thrice). Professor Feldman is the author or editor of more than 20 books, including five book-length studies, and more than 40 articles or academic book chapters.
Professor Feldman has given expert witness testimony in many high-profile terrorist trials relating to radical right extremism – including the first conviction under the UK’s 1996 Chemical Weapons Act. He has submitted evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Anti-Semitism, and on Islamophobia, alongside consultation for various UK police constabularies. Professor Feldman has participated in discussions on radical right extremism in House of Lords and House of Commons debates; briefing sessions with Special Branch, DCLG and the Ministry of Justice; as well as in keynote lectures for prosecutors’ and police officers’ associations; the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Council of Europe’s Debates on Democratic Security. Policy engagement also focusses upon Islamoprejudice – notably three of the first empirical reports on anti-Muslim hate crimes for Faith Matters (2013-5) – alongside contributions on post-‘Brexit’ racism and ‘Islamophobia’. He has also appeared in more than 700 radio and television programmes to discuss fascism, the radical right, and far-right extremism.
Anja Hennig is a lecturer and research associate with the Chair of Comparative Politics, Faculty of Cultural Science at the European University Viadrina (Frankfurt, Germany). Her research areas are comparative politics with particular emphasis on the relationship between religion and politics. She focuses on the topics of morality politics (abortion, gay-rights, bioethics), the radical right and gender issues and liberalism in dispute. Her regional focus is on East Central Europe, Italy, and Spain. Her most recent articles include: “Political genderphobia in Europe: accounting for right-wing political-religious alliances against gender-sensitive education reforms since 2012” (Zeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik, 2018) and (with Madalena Meyer Resende) “Shunning Direct Intervention: Explaining the Exceptional Behavior of the Portuguese Church in Morality Politics” (New Diversities, 2016). Together with Jeff Haynes she edited the book Religious Actors in the Public Sphere: Means, Objectives, and Effects (Routledge, 2011) and with Mirjam Weiberg-Salzmann she edited Illiberal Politics and Religion in Europe and Beyond: Concepts, Actors, and Identity Narratives (Campus Verlag, 2021).
Katherine Stewart is an investigative reporter and author who has covered religious liberty, politics, policy, and education for over a decade. Her latest book, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism (Bloomsbury, 2020), is a rare look inside the machinery of the movement that brought Donald Trump to power. It won a Morris D. Forkosch “best book” award. Her previous book was The Good News Club: The Religious Right’s Stealth Attack on America’s Children (PublicAffairs, 2012). Stewart’s journalism appears in the New York Times op ed, NBC, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books. In 2014 she was named Person of the Year by the national civil liberties group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Angus Slater is a lecturer in theology and religious studies at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. Most of his teaching is focused on aspects of inter-religious dialogue, particularly at higher levels. He also teaches aspects of Christian theology, particularly contemporary contextual approaches such as queer theology. (he has expertise in conservative post-modern Christian Theology). His research interest largely lies in the interaction between religious faiths and the way that they conceptualize the other. This works its way out in a concern for Christian theological and Islamic legal approaches to issues of dialogue, authority, power, identity, and narrative. Slater has an interest in the positioning of religion within the construction of identity more widely – whether the context of this is in the world of cyberspace, personal sexual narratives, or alternative modes of identity construction. He is the author of the book Radical Orthodoxy in a Pluralistic World: Desire, Beauty and the Divine (Routledge, 2017) and the chapter “Challenging the Legitimacy of Extremist Narratives through Pedagogy” in Education and Extremisms: Rethinking liberal pedagogies in the contemporary world (Routledge, 2017).
David Robertson is a lecturer in Religion at the Open University. A major research interest of his is nspiracy theories in, as, or about religion. He is co-editor of the Handbook of Conspiraccoy Theory and Contemporary Religion (Brill, 2018). He has previously been involved in a workshop on ‘Conspiracy theories, disinformation, and security threats: How should governments respond?’ co-organised by the UK Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats, the University of Lancaster and the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism.
Robertson was a founding editor of the Religious Studies Project podcast and website presented in association with the British Association for the Study of Religions, and he is co-editor of the journal Implicit Religion (Equinox), which offers a platform for scholarship that challenges the traditional boundary between religion and non-religion and the tacit assumptions underlying this distinction