Cfp: “Christianity and Populism” (ECPR General Conference, 31 August-3 September 2021)

Call for papers

Panel on “Christianity and Populism”

2021 ECPR General Conference – Section on “Religious Freedom in Europe”

Convenors: Luca Ozzano (University of Turin,; Myunghee Lee (University of Missouri,; and Emma Rosenberg (University of Notre Dame,

To propose a paper, please send an abstract of up to 200 words to the convenors by 8 February.


The first two decades of the 20th century have witnessed the rise of populist movements and political parties in different parts of the world. Although these new political actors can belong to either side of the political spectrum, or even proclaim to be apolitical, they are often marked by right-wing stances and policies, which – in scholarly analyses – are often highlighted as representing the “exclusionary” or the “horizontal” dimension of populism, engendering hostile attitudes towards other communities and cultures. In this nationalist or nativist background, religion often plays a crucial role not as a matter of belief or practice, but mainly as an identity marker to single out “us” from “the others”: which, in the worst cases, engenders infringements of minorities’ religious freedom. Although the literature about religion and right-wing populism is quickly growing, few comparative works have specifically focused on the relation between Christianity and populism: which is striking, considering the role of Christian values in many contemporary right-wing populist movement, from Western Europe to Russia, the US and Brazil, just to mention the most popular cases.

This panel aims to fill the gap by highlighting the specific role of Christian values, churches, movements and parties in the development of the populist phenomenon. A particular attention will be devoted to the following points:

– The involvement of Christian believers in right-wing populism movements of different parts of the world.

– The relation between Christian values and symbols and extreme right movements, such as the US Alt-right.

– The new patterns of interaction between Christianity and party politics brought about by populist parties.

– The controversial, and sometimes conflict-oriented relations between right-wing populist parties and socially-oriented Christian leaders, churches and congregations.

– The involvement of Christian right-wing populists in the debates on gender and family-related issues.

– The complex relations between populism and religious freedom: both in terms of policies which negatively impinge upon minorities’ religious liberties; and because of the use of frames which oppose LGBT+ rights and liberally-oriented gender- and family-related legislation on the ground of believers’ freedom of speech.

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