Building: (Building A) Faculty of Law, Administration & Economics Floor: 4th floor Room: 407
Over the last two decades far-right populist parties have dramatically increased their electoral consensus, they have taken power in several countries, and they managed to impose their arguments in policy agendas and in public debates. However, against this recent wave of populism a broad reaction is taking place. While traditional political parties are still struggling to elaborate convincing proposals against populist movements, the initiatives of some political leaders and those of civil society organisations seem to be more promising. Religious groups are at the forefront in the mobilisations against populism. Last October Pope Francis openly warned against the exclusionary attitudes of
populism. The words of the Pontiff are not isolated. Across Europe, Christian Churches, religious communities, and faith-based groups have taken firm stances against the hard-line immigration policies, the anti-Muslim positions, and the xenophobic ideas promoted by far-right populist parties. However, churches and faith-based religious organisations are not homogeneous blocks. Religious people also show a plurality of attitudes on political questions and the anti-populist positions taken by several religious leaders can have divisive effects and they may open new fractures in religious communities.
The religious opposition to populism should suggest reconsidering the public role that religious groups can play in secular countries. In his well-known book Public Religions in the Contemporary World, José Casanova claimed that in secularised societies there has been a repositioning of the religious activism from the political sphere to civil society. Although Casanova’s thesis describes the long-term developments in the public engagement of churches and faith-based groups, we may wonder if in those periods affected by political crises, during which the collective values of our open societies are in danger, religious and religious-inspired actors can return to have a more politically-oriented role.