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Understanding Christian Far-Right Extremism
16 Sep 2021

The Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme hosted a webinar on 16 September 2021 titled “Understanding Christian Far Right Extremism (CFRE): Politics, Theologies, Conspiracies. RSIS Associate Professor Paul Hedges chaired the discussion, which involved five panellists approaching the topic of CFRE from multiple angles, including theology, religious studies, conspiracy theory studies, and political science.

In his remarks, Professor Matthew Feldman of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right introduced his conception of “Christianism”, a “modern ideological appropriation of Christianity, based upon a secular vision of redemption through political violence”, which he argued has become an urgent subject. Dr Anja Hennig of the European University Viadrina, discussed how illiberal networks of right-wing Christian actors have formed across Europe despite the varying levels of religiosity across the continent.

Ms Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, outlined the sources of Christian nationalist power in the United States and the dynamics the movement has been harnessing to gain social and political impact. She described Christian nationalism as a political ideology and a form of identity politics that cloaks itself in religious rhetoric.

The fourth speaker, Dr Angus Slater of the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, offered a theologian’s perspective on CFRE. He felt that debating the theology of Christian extremism is a highly problematic exercise without inhabiting the “interpretative communities” of people involved in the phenomenon. Finally, Dr David Robertson of the Open University and an expert on conspiracy theory studies, discussed the overlaps between Christianity, the Far Right, and conspiracy theories.

A lively panel discussion followed the presentations, with active audience engagement throughout the event. Among the issues discussed were  the centrality of eschatology and the overlaps between CFRE and Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel:

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