- My name is Shaun Casey.
I'm the director of the Berkley Center
for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
It's great to have all of you here.
I think we have a really fascinating speaker and topic
to hear and discuss today, so we're very pleased
that you could be here to share this time with us.
Our speaker is Tobias Cremer, who is now stranger
to folk who are familiar with the Berkley Center.
He is a visiting researcher.
He's got a very long bio and CV,
which I will not read all the way through,
but let's simply say that he's a PhD candidate
in political science at the moment
at University of Cambridge,
and he's been a visiting research fellow here
since October of 2019.
He will be making his way back across the pond very soon.
Anyway, it's been a wonderful time having you here.
Tobias has been incredibly busy,
doing a lot of interviewing, a lot of researching here
on the topic of today's discussion,
and we're all eager to hear what he has to say.
But, again, I wanna thank all of you for attending
and also thank you, Tobias, for all your good work.
We look forward to seeing the publication
of your dissertation when it comes out.
As I often say, it'll be the English translation
of an English dissertation when you turn it into real prose.
You picked a really quite impressive and amazing topic,
and so we're eager to hear that.
Essentially, what Tobias is going to be
talking about today is national populism in religion
in Western Europe and the United States.
As you can imagine,
this is a topic of endless scholarly speculation.
He's actually done in the field research
talking to people and players
and actors at this intersection,
which, I think, makes his presentation
really quite interesting and compelling.
I'm not gonna read the whole description.
You've got that.
You saw it when you signed up.
I'm gonna give all this time back to Tobias.
We will have a period of Q and A which Tobias will run,
and we will close at 1:30.
Please join me in welcoming Tobias to our lectern.
Thank you. (audience applauding)
Thank you, sir.
- Thank you. - Certainly.
- Well, thanks a lot, Shaun.
Actually, let me seize the opportunity
to really extend my thanks to the Berkley Center in general
and Shaun in particular.
They have been absolutely instrumental in my research,
in getting me in the first place
but also really allowing me to do a lot of this research.
Shaun has actually been one of my first victims
in the interviewing process.
I basically chased him down the first day I came
and wouldn't leave his office until he spoke to me for long.
But also really allowing me to tap into the network.
A lot of people in the center have allowed me
to really tap into that fantastic network
that the Berkley Center has,
and I definitely tried to also write
some America prose in that PhD
to make it more understandable.
My proofreaders usually do already cut the sentences
and say, "Stop with the Germanic bits."
I'm getting there.
I hope I get there completely in the end.
Also, thank you to everybody else for turning up today,
for sacrificing your lunch break.
I know that's a big sacrifice.
I hope that, if not I, at least the tacos may be able
to make up for that a bit.
I'm also very glad to see a lot of familiar faces
of people that have actually contributed
a lot to that research, who sat down with me,
who talked to me about all these issues.
You can, after it all, tell me
how I got you completely, completely wrong.
But I think the discussion afterwards
will actually be very, very insightful,
so I'm really looking forward do that.
I'll try to stick to time
so we have more time for the discussion.
I'm sure Shaun will make sure that I stick to time.
I'll start straightaway.
As you can see from the title of my presentation,
my research, my doctoral research, as Shaun mentioned,
focuses on the relationship
between politics and religion in general
and national populism and Christianity in particular
in Western democracies over these last few years.
But before really going into the nitty-gritty of that topic,
let me actually start out by taking you
on to a little imaginary journey
through a couple of Western cities in these last few years.
Let's begin this journey maybe in my own home country,
in Germany, and more particularly in Dresden,
in Germany's beautiful capital of Baroque.
Just imagine yourself walking
through these beautiful Baroque streets
on a cold February evening.
It's beautifully lit.
Just imagine, as you come on to the main market square,
you suddenly come across this huge crowd of people,
several thousand of them gathered around the Frauenkirche,
the main Protestant church in Dresden.
They are singing church hymns, they are carrying candles,
some are carrying oversized crosses.
And then imagine that the second stop of our journey
brings us to Paris in France,
where, again, we come across a huge crowd of people,
again, several thousand activists.
They're beginning their gathering
around the statue of a Catholic saint
and preparing to march through the streets of Paris,
that capital of laicite and secularism,
in the veneration of that Catholic saint.
And then, finally, just imagine that the last stop,
the third and last stop of our journey,
brings us to this side of the Atlantic,
in particular to Florida,
where you come across a third crowd of people,
again, several thousand,
and they are beginning their gathering
by reciting the "Lord's Prayer"
and singing "God Bless the USA."
Now, what is interesting about these three events
is that none of them took place in the context
of a religious service, procession,
or any other form of religiously organized event,
but that all three were organized
by right-wing populist movements:
the first that you can see here, in Dresden,
by the Patriotic Europeans
Against the Islamisation of the Occident, Pegida;
the second one by the Front National in France
in their annual gathering in the honor of Joan of Arc;
and the third one was a Trump rally in Florida
earlier in 2018.
These events, these three events are actually representative
of two broader trends that we can currently observe
in Western society, across Western societies,
with, on the one hand, of course,
the surge of national populism
that in many countries is no longer a fringe movement
but that builds governments, that forms governments,
and that gets majorities,
and on the other hand, of course,
the resurgence of references to religion itself,
in particular references to Christianity
in the public sphere, in the political debate of countries
that we perceived if not as secularized
then at least on the path towards further secularization.
Given the nature of these three events
that I just described to you,
one might, of course, now think,
"Well, actually, these two trends
"are part of just one and the same:
"reactionary backlash of conservative Christianity
"against the advance of liberal secular society."
Yet, as tempting as such interpretation may seem,
perhaps in particular to a secular academic audience,
a closer analysis of this relationship
between national populism on the one hand
and religion and Christianity in Western society
on the other hand
might be a bit more nuanced, might be a bit more complicated
than such interpretations may suggest.
Because, if we actually look at some of the numbers,
we see that, for instance,
yes, Donald Trump was and remains
incredibly popular among white Evangelicals.
He scored higher in this voting group
than both Mitt Romney and George W. Bush,
and it's likely that it will be the same for 2020,
that he continues to be incredibly popular
among white Evangelicals.
Yet the same white Evangelicals, in surveys,
tell us that they perceive him
to be the least religious GOP candidate in recent history
and he was actually, you know,
actually met quite a lot of criticism
of otherwise rather conservative Evangelical voices,
ranging from Dr. Russell Moore in 2016
to the recent Christianity Today editorial
that many of you may have read.
And if you look to Europe, the situation there
is even more complicated.
Because here, we actually find
that supporters of national populist movements
tend to be disproportionately irreligious.
And we see that at the very example of Dresden
because there was a survey taken
on the very evening where this picture was taken,
on that very February evening,
to figure out who are these people.
It turned out, of these people running around with crosses
and singing church hymns,
over 80%, eight-zero percent,
self-identified as irreligious or atheist
in a country that is still self-identified
about 2/3 Protestant or Catholic.
Throughout Europe, we see a similar picture,
where things such as church attendance actually turn out
to be one of the strongest statistical predictors
for not voting national populist movements.
That, of course, then begs the question,
how can we explain this paradoxical relationship?
How can we explain this odd relationship
between, on the one hand, national populists'
almost aggressive employment of Christian symbols,
Christian language in their rhetoric,
and then, on the other hand, some of these more confusing
and rather ambiguous datapoints?
What I'm trying to do in my research
is basically approach that question in four steps.
I'm trying to replicate that, to an extent, here today.
First, I'm trying to understand,
to look at the social origins of national populism.
Where is this coming from?
Why is this happening right now?
And why does this seem to happen
not just in one country, not just in two countries,
but across most Western societies?
And to what extent are the developments in western Europe
comparable to what we see here in North America?
Second is then the question
of how does religion fit into this?
What do national populists actually mean
when they speak about Christian identity?
And how might that be different to traditional references
of conservative movements to Christian values and beliefs?
Then third, the question,
how does this actually work out in practice?
How do Christian communities in different countries
react to this, again, differently?
And here, again, the comparison between the US and Europe
might be very interesting to look at.
And then fourth and finally, what does this mean
for the role of the church in society?
What does this mean for the role of religion
in our political party systems going forward?
But, first things first, what are the social roots
of national populism?
It is becoming increasingly clear
that this is not just a short-term reaction,
a short-term protest vote to some specific event,
but that there are deep social roots
that go back years, perhaps decades,
and that make it likely that we will have to deal
with this phenomenon for quite a long while.
My argument is very much
that the surge of right-wing populism
that we currently see in Western societies
is, to a large extent, the consequence of the emergence
of a new social cleavage in these societies
that is centered around the question of identity
or the question of how to define national identity.
Who are the we and who are the others?
And, very briefly,
perhaps for those who have made better life choices
than spending their 20s doing a PhD in politics,
and who might not be familiar with social cleavage theory,
social cleavages basically refer
to the main social divides within a society
that shape and define the political system
and the parties that populate it.
Historically, in Western societies,
we had two main social cleavages:
on the one hand, the divide, the economic divide
between state interventionism and free market,
between workers and capitalists,
protectionism and free trade,
it's the class struggle,
if you like to think of it in these terms;
and then, on the other hand,
we had the religious or cultural divide
between social conservatives and social liberals
that's, so to speak, the culture wars.
So this two-by-two metrics
was the dominant social cleavage system.
As a result, for most of the 20th century,
Western politics were dominated, on the one hand,
by questions about economic redistribution,
taxation, class relations,
and then, on the other hand, social issues
such as abortion, church-state relations,
sexual freedom, religious liberty, et cetera.
Historically, you could map most political movements
and parties very straightforwardly
in this two-by-two metrics.
However, this is not necessarily true to the same extent
for national populist movements.
Because if you look at them as a party
firmly across borders, we do see that they often end up
on both ends of both cleavages.
When we think about the economic cleavage,
yes, we see a lot of neoliberal,
free-trade movements, anti-tax movement.
We think about the Tea Party,
we think about the early AfD in Germany
and many Scandinavian parties,
even the very early Front National.
But if we look a bit closer, we also see
that the Front National today
is perhaps even more to the left on economic issues
than the Parti Socialiste, the socialist party in France.
We see in the United States
Trump embracing the blue collar divide,
side of the divide, embracing protectionism and tariffs.
We see the same thing in Germany.
The AfD is moving backward and forwards
between these positions, and we see that on many parties,
not only that parties on different points are moving
but they're actually moving back and forth.
There's a lot of flexibility.
And, perhaps even more surprising for
in particular an American audience,
is that that also seems true increasingly
on the moral cleavage.
Because we might think
of right-wing populists and national populists
as particularly socially conservative, even reactionary.
But when we look a bit closer,
we see Geert Wilders in the Netherlands
saying that "we are the real defenders of gay rights."
You have the AfD in Germany saying,
"We are the real defenders of women rights."
Marine Le Pen in France saying,
"We are the real defenders of feminism.
"We are the real defenders of laicite,
"state-church separation, and secularism."
Even in the US, one might argue that,
when it comes to the moral and social issues,
at least during the primaries,
that Donal Trump appeared somewhat less concerned
with traditional Christian morality
than, say, a Ted Cruz or a Ben Carson, a George W. Bush,
some might even say perhaps less so than a Barack Obama.
And whether you think that this is authentic or not,
whether you think this is only a reaction to Islam,
which we'll talk about, or not,
the very fact that they seem more flexible on these issues,
that they actually tend to be more open
to embracing these progressive values on the moral divide
than traditional conservative parties
does suggest that this might be about something else,
that this might not be about these traditional issues.
The deeper we look at the polling data
over the last few years,
the supporters of these movements
state, as their main priorities, not abortion,
not lowering of taxes, not gay marriage.
What they are most concerned about is immigration,
is culture, is national identities, race relations.
These points, these identity issues
seems to be the driving forces.
That might then suggest that we might actually now
be witnessing the emergence of a new third cleavage
centered around the question of identity
that faces with developments
in our society's rapid demographic change,
very high levels of immigration,
that basically gives two different responses to that
and tries to define national identity and group identity
in very different ways.
On the one hand, you have, of course,
the more liberal approach, the globalist ideas
of universalism, multiculturalism, diversity,
that embraces group identities primarily for minorities,
and otherwise focuses primarily
on individualist forms of identity such as education
or personal success for the majority population,
and that remains very open to immigration.
And then, on the other hand, you have another response,
a more communitarian response,
that defines national identity differently,
that defines national identity
based on inherited group identity markers
of the majority population,
that is, ethnicity, culture,
history, institutions, language.
And there's increasing scholarship
on this divide, of course.
In the UK, many of you might have heard
of the Somewheres and the Anywheres, David Goodhart's words.
Others talk about closed society versus open society,
nationalists versus globalists,
communitarianism versus cosmopolitanism.
Yet, whatever you might want to call it, one common feature
is that traditional parties over the last few decades
seem increasingly ill-equipped
to deal with this political divide
because most parties were defined
in accordance to the two traditional cleavages,
the opposing sides on these cleavages,
but often ended up on the more cosmopolitan,
individualist, pro-immigration position
on this identity cleavage,
emphasizing those over communitarianism
or closed-borders approaches.
So on the left, we see many traditional parties
giving up on traditional communitarian instincts
of the working class
in favor of what somebody like Thomas Frank
might call the liberalism of the rich,
secondary education, gender equality, minority rights,
environmentalism rather than class solidarity.
And on the right, we see figures such as Angela Merkel
incarnating a more socially liberal
and pro-immigration approach.
But also, in the US, Mitt Romney, John McCain,
were rather pro-immigration.
As a result, there seem to have been,
to a large extent, a gap of representation
for this communitarian end of the divide.
It is now by making national identity and immigration
the centerpiece of their agenda
that right-wing populists
try to tap into this new market niche
with their own form of a right-wing identity politics
that tries to reverse the ideas
of a left-wing identity politics,
pretending to defend not the rights of the minorities
but the rights of the majority,
but also focusing on these predefined identitarian ideas
such as race, culture, et cetera.
Then the question is, of course,
how does religion fit into this new identity cleavage?
Here, my argument is very much
that national populists often try to employ Christianity
really primarily in this context
as a cultural identity marker of the nation,
and they use its symbols, they use its language,
but very often actually remain increasingly distanced
from Christian values and beliefs.
To try to understand this dynamic, in particular in Europe,
a bit more straightforwardly,
try and think of the national populist ideology,
it is a triangular relationship
between, on the one hand, the us, the pure people.
These are the good guys.
This is the homogeneous people.
And then you have a set of two others.
On the one hand, you have the internal other.
That's the corrupted elite, the corrupted liberal elite
that threatens the us from the inside.
And then the external other threatens it from the outside.
Now, what is interesting about the external other
is that that has historically, this is nothing new,
but it has historically been defined
in terms of ethnicity and nationality.
It was the Turk in Germany.
It was the Moroccan in France.
What is new is that this external other
is increasingly defined in civilizational, cultural,
and specifically religious terms as the Muslim, as Islam,
as a civilizational threat.
And it is only given this religious definition of the other
that now Christianity might appear
to many of these national populists
as an analogous identifier of the us.
But what that is, in many respects,
is not necessarily return of Christian religiosity
en force in Western societies
but a culturalization of religion.
It is religion only as a way
of identifying a national community.
It's a dissociation of religion as a form of belief
from religion as a form of belonging,
of religion as a faith
from religion as a cultural identifier.
As I said, I do a lot of these interviews
with national populist leaders on the one hand,
church leaders on the other hand,
and mainstream politicians on the third.
I've done over 100 of these.
One of the questions I ask them, I ask everybody,
is, "What does Christian identity actually mean to you?
"How would you define it
"when you talk about Christian identity?"
It is striking then that, when I ask them,
almost all the faith leaders
and actually also almost all of the mainstream politicians
started talking about theology.
They started talking about sinfulness, the Trinity,
the Resurrection, the second coming of Christ.
By contrast, if I ask the same question
to national populists,
they would start talking about culture.
They start talking about architecture, music, tradition.
And, crucially, almost all of them
would also start referencing Islam
in their definition of Christianity.
They would say, "We are Christian
"because we have Sundays off, not Fridays.
"We are Christian because we have a church
"in the village, not a mosque.
"We are Christian because we are not Muslim."
To just give you some examples,
I mean, these are all still off the record
so they are anonymized, but to just give you some examples
of what some politicians told me,
this is a very high-level AfD leader
who told me that in the AfD, the consensus is,
"that when we say Christian or occident,
"we mean it in a historical or cultural terms
"rather than theological terms.
"It's about defending our culture
"against other civilizations and the threat of Islam."
Another leader of the AfD confirmed
and said it is rather unusual
to talk about faith in the AfD.
"If we talk about religion, it is about Islam
"and Islamization because of the migration crisis."
The same was true in France, where a very top-level leader
of the Front National told me the way of thinking,
that the question,
the religious question will necessarily be central
but it will be in relation
to the question of political Islam.
And, perhaps in relation to political Islam,
there will be a will to defend what defines us.
And when it comes to what defines us today,
it is still how to avoid Christianity.
But that person also confirmed
that this is rather something cultural than religious.
And actually, I even encountered, in many of my interviews,
that there were strong, explicitly anti-Christian currents
in many of these movements.
One very high-level Christian in the AfD told me
that, in fact, there are many in this, quote, again,
"There are many people in the AfD who outwardly say
"that Christianity is extremely important to them,
"that they are Christian themselves,
"but who internally always fought the Christians
"in the party.
"They really wanted to destroy us.
"For these people, Christianity is really a religion
"from the near east which does not fit into Germany."
Another official confirmed that and told me
that there's a fraction of radical atheists in the party,
in the Front National.
Again, somebody told me, quote, that today
"there's a very strong secularist current
"in the Front National,"
and another high-level Christian at a top position
in the FN leadership told me
that part of the reason why he left the party
and gave up on that position
is that the Christian contingent
became increasingly marginalized in the Front National.
"For me, it was a drama of conscience
"because I felt I was denied the right
"to voice my opinion as a Christian."
So we really see that,
for many right-wing populists especially in Europe,
Christian, to some extent, only means not Muslim.
This is really about a cultural identity
rather than about faith and theology.
It's a national identity marker.
And if you start thinking of it in these terms,
it suddenly starts to make sense that,
instead of following the church's teaching on public policy,
many national populist movements
often marry religious language and symbols
with predominantly secular policies.
It starts to make sense that the Front National
is venerating Joan of Arc
in spite of their anticlerical positions on laicite.
It thus makes sense to have the Pegida carrying crosses
through secular Dresden.
It thus makes sense
to have Geert Wilders increasingly referencing
the Netherlands' Judeo-Christian culture
whilst defying any other teaching of the Catholic Church,
from refugees to gay marriage.
And it might even make sense to have a thrice-divorced,
formerly pro-choice businessman
with relatively little exhibited Biblical knowledge
but several extramarital affairs
to become the savior of Christian America
if Christian America is primarily a cultural
rather than a religious concept.
Now, don't get me wrong, to be sure, the United States
is very different from Europe in many of these ways.
The GOP is still seen, by far,
as the more religious of the two parties.
And within the Trump administration,
you'd be very hard-pressed to find anybody
who would openly embrace secularist
or anti-Christian stances in any way similar
to those of their European counterparts.
But nonetheless, even in the US, we see
that it's not just the president's personal demeanor
that undermines the Christian credentials of the GOP
to some extent,
but also that, unlike earlier Republican candidates,
Donald Trump barely references
Christian values and beliefs in his speeches,
but focuses on cultural issues, on cultural identity issues
such as the war on Christmas, for instance,
or defending Christians in the Middle East
as a civilizational fight between Christendom and Islam.
That actually leads us to another point
that we have in the US increasing
that is becoming stronger
and really, really strong emergence of Islamophobia
as part of the definition of the us.
We see that with the Muslim ban, et cetera,
all the legislation passed against sharia laws,
in spite of there being a very, very small minority
of Muslims in the United States.
Shadi Hamid at the Brookings Institute
has some fantastic research showing that.
Another parallel with the European developments
is that, in the interviews I've done here
with members of the Trump campaign,
people in the faith advisory board, et cetera,
a lot of these people actually told me
that there's a new dividing line in the Republican Party
and in the administration.
It's not anymore the traditional one
between just liberals, free-marketeers on the one hand
and then Christian conservatives on the other hand,
but there's this new, more secular nationalist movement
around people like Steve Bannon and Steve Miller,
who clashed in particular with the Christian right.
And it was very often the Evangelical voices
within the administration who might be more conservative
on issues such as abortion and gay marriage
but who are actually a moderating voice
on issues such as immigration and race relations
and national identity questions.
I mean, this is what I hear from the Trump administration
but from both sides, actually.
So we really seem to see some similar developments
from very different bases,
but we seem to see a similar trajectory,
almost a Europeanization, in some extents,
of also the American right.
Now, this, of course, leads us to the third question.
That is, how does this work out in practice?
How do Christian communities actually react to that?
Here, it is very interesting that we tend to see
that this identitarian appeal to Christianity,
purely cultural appeal, actually tends to be most successful
amongst irreligious voters and non-practicing,
so to speak, cultural Christians,
whereas practicing Christians often remain
comparatively immune to such appeals.
Again, this is particularly strong in Europe
but I gave you here the numbers in Germany.
In Europe, people really start talking about,
in the literature, about a religion gap
or a vaccination effect of religiosity
against voting right-wing populists.
We can see that really strongly here in Germany
where the AfD, on average, scores almost double as high
amongst irreligious voters
than amongst Protestants and Catholics
over the last 20 or so regional European
and federal elections.
The same is true in countries like France or Italy
where the Front National or Lega Nord
have traditionally underperformed among Catholics,
in particular so among churchgoing ones.
The picture in the US is, of course, more complicated
because Trump did so extremely well
amongst white Evangelicals
but also amongst white mainline Protestants
as well as amongst white Catholics.
And it looks, again, like in 2020,
he'll do again amazingly well
in particular amongst white Evangelicals.
Yet during the primaries, it became clear
that he actually does best among those white Evangelicals
who don't go to church,
and that he actually underperformed
among the most frequent churchgoers.
We see that here.
He actually, during the primaries,
got the highest score, 62% of support,
among those Republican voters who never go to church.
And he only got about 30%
among those who go more than weekly.
This is almost the double,
almost quite significantly a significant gap there,
which, again, raises the question,
are we really seeing a resurrection
of the Christian right in the United States,
of the religious right coming back?
Are we seeing perhaps the emergence
of a post-religious right and a secularization of the GOP?
In fact, many social scientists have started talking
about a growing schism amongst right-wring voters,
between, on the one hand, the traditional religious right
that, broadly speaking, is composed of the more churchgoing
and more educated middle classes that remains committed
to the institution of the Church, to Church teachings,
and therefore also to social conservatism,
but also to openness to immigration,
and that remain attached to traditional
conservative politics and movements;
and then, on the other hand, a new more post-religious right
that consists more on average of working-class voters
that often combine secular values
with some form of cultural nativism,
that are less bound to institutions in general
and the institution of the Church in particular,
that have no allegiance or less allegiance
to Church teachings,
but look more favorable onto right-wing populist policies.
And so, really, the question is then, of course,
to what extent can religion not only work
as a fuel to national populism
but, at some instances, perhaps also as a barrier to it?
And then the question, the last question, I'll end on that,
is, of course, what determines which way it works out?
What determines whether it's a fuel or a barrier?
I have so far come across
two main explanations in particular.
On the one hand, the party system,
on the party system's fuel and, on the other hand,
the behavior of the institutional Church.
I quickly talk first about the party system.
Here, the logic seems really to be the question
whether there's the availability
of a credible Christian alternative in the party system.
The logic here is that Christian voters
are usually more defined
through this traditional religious moral cleavage,
that they focus more on these issues
and are therefore bound already to traditional conservative
or Christian democratic parties,
and that if such an electoral alternative is available,
they are unavailable to the populist right.
However, if such an alternative breaks away
or is taken over by populists,
then this religion gap disappears to an extent.
We could see that very straightforwardly,
and you have the numbers here,
in the French presidential election of 2017
where, in the first round, this vaccination effect
or religion gap or whatever you might want to call it,
is still there.
Marine Le Pen got, on the national average, 20%,
but she only got 15% among Catholics
and only 12% among churchgoing Catholics
compared to 24% amongst irreligious French voters.
So she got almost double as many atheists on her side
and irreligious voters on her side
than churchgoing Catholics.
However, in the second round,
this vaccination effect almost entirely disappears.
You can see here, frequent churchgoers,
the national average was 34%.
Frequent churchgoers went up to 29%, only a small gap.
And among non-practicing Catholics, it actually went beyond.
So 38% more than the national average
now supported Marine Le Pen.
The reason for this development,
between just these two weeks, between the two rounds,
is this gentleman, Francois Fillon,
because Francois Fillon was the candidate
of the mainstream conservative Republicains.
He was a practicing Catholic, made explicit references
not only to France's Catholic identity
but also to Christian values when it comes to social policy,
in particular, bioethical issues,
and he scored on the national average 20%.
But amongst Catholics, he scored 46%.
And among churchgoing Catholics, he scored 55%.
It was only once he was eliminated
that many French Catholics felt
that they were left with the, in their view,
the choice between the pest of an identitarian
and anti-immigrationist Marine Le Pen and, in their view,
the cholera of a morally (audience chuckling)
relativist and secularist Emmanuel Macron.
We actually see similar estimates in the US.
We saw that during the primaries.
We saw that earlier, when Donald Trump actually scored best
amongst the irreligious GOP primary voters,
and the most fervent Christians,
the most practicing Christians went for Ted Cruz,
Marco Rubio, Ben Carson.
It was only once Donald Trump carried the nomination
that they perceived themselves with having no alternative
other than what they thought was a pro-abortion
and increasingly secularist Democratic alternative,
and so they fell in line with the others,
especially so after Trump seemed also legitimized
by many of the leaders of the Christian right
or faith leaders who before were very skeptical.
That brings us then to the second part of the explanation,
and that is the role that churches, in particular
elite actors in churches, can play.
Here, the logic is very much
whether or not religious leaders
either condone or challenge
these identitarian appeals to Christianity.
The example of Germany is very strong there
because there, the logic is that they really are able,
churches are able to create something of a social taboo
against nationalist populist movements.
So in Germany, the churches have come out
very, very strongly against the AfD,
against this use of religious references by the AfD.
They have positioned themselves clearly
in the pro-immigration camp.
They went demonstrating in front of AfD party conferences
with slogans such as "Our cross is no swastika."
They excluded AfD politicians from national church days
where all other politicians were invited.
And so they really became, in the public view,
some of the party's most robust public adversaries.
I talked to a lot of leaders who then taught me
that this is really having a significant impact,
that Christians might share some of the attitudes
with national populist leaders but that they don't act on it
because there is a social taboo.
Even AfD politicians often told me
these Christians really have an issue with social taboos.
They don't want to transgress these social taboos
and therefore don't act on that.
You can see, again, similar developments
in France, Italy, or Austria.
There's increasing scholarship coming out on that.
In France, there's even, which I thought was a great name,
the Pope Francis effect.
You can actually observe statistically
that whenever Pope Francis speaks out,
speak ups in favor of migrants, among churchgoing Catholics,
the support for immigration goes up
and the support for the Front National goes down.
That only works for the churchgoing ones, though.
Cultural Catholics don't actually work on that.
And what is very interesting is that this taboo effect
might not only impact the behavior of Christian voters
but even of the parties themselves.
The AfD actually,
once they were so harshly criticized by the churches,
actually stopped with many of the references
and said of themselves, "We are not a Christian party."
They now promote stronger church-state separation.
They say we have to cut funding for the churches.
They say we have to
get rid of religious education in schools, et cetera.
They say themselves this is a direct reaction
to this criticism from the churches.
Again, the US is, of course, different,
but we still see some similarities.
Actually, there are increasing studies coming out
that show that amongst clergy
and, so to speak, Evangelicals in elite institutions
or Evangelicals in para-church movement,
et cetera, et cetera,
so the leadership, the religious leadership
tends to be much more skeptical of the Trump administration
than rank-and-file Evangelicals.
So we actually see that the criticism of people
like Russell Moore or the NAE or Christianity Today
might be much more representative
of the Evangelical clergy writ large
than the traditional, than the faith advisory board.
We could see that, for instance, initially,
the president actually had to surround himself
with more marginal Christian leaders
that many mainstream Evangelicals
would consider really marginal, some even heretic.
The difference is, though,
why this skepticism in the elite doesn't show through
in the population or in the rank-and-file Evangelicals,
mainline Christians, et cetera,
is that, unlike in Europe, the elites, the faith leaders
don't speak out to the main extent.
They don't reference it,
they don't do this publicly to the same extent.
There are two reasons for that
that I come across most often in the explanation.
One is structure.
It is just not possible
to speak authoritatively for American Christianity
in the way that it is possible in Germany or France.
In Germany and France, you have very,
in France, Catholic country, you have the Pope.
You have the Conference of Bishops.
If they say something, that's Christianity.
The same is true in Europe
for many Protestant churches as well
who have bishops and the presiding bishop.
It's very straightforward and hierarchical.
Of course, in the United States,
you not only have hundreds of denominations
but increasingly even these denominations are in free fall,
and the growing number of non-denominational Christians,
where then, again, it's very hard for anybody
in the United States to speak authoritatively
about what is a Christian thing to do and what is not.
And then the second thing is, beyond the structures,
also an unwillingness to speak up
of many Christian leaders in the United States.
I've talked to many of them and they were saying,
"Yes, take it off the record.
"I'm really against it,
"I see absolutely all the risks you have there,
"but I don't want to speak up about that," for two reasons.
On the one hand, fear of access to power.
They're saying, "We will lose our influence
"with the president."
And I actually think this is not just hypocrisy,
as many people say, but given that what I've heard
from some of the nationalist wings,
they do seem to have some effect, at least,
or at least they might think they have
a certain effect of moderation in this policy,
so they might actually think
they're really doing something positive there.
But then also, of course,
looking down the structures of the Church, again,
is that Americans are much more ready
to leave the denomination or the religion for another one
if they don't agree politically with their clergy.
So you have pressure from above
and you have pressure from below.
And, to be sure, there are significant risks
with speaking out, creating social taboos.
In Germany, a lot of people told me
there's the risk of further social exclusion,
of the radicalization of far-right supporters
because they feel they cannot go back into churches,
as well as the politicization of Christianity.
But what this shows us is that not only does it play
a significant role where there's a political party
that offers Christianity as an alternative,
that offers a viable Christian alternative,
but that even church leaders actually
can still have an impact,
that they might underestimate the impact they can have
on voting and on the success of national populist politics.
Now, I'm aware we're running out of time,
so instead of giving you conclusions,
and I'm not done with the PhD yet,
so I'd rather (audience laughing)
leave you with some questions.
Maybe you'll know the answers, then you can send me emails.
It's really the questions,
whether the emergence of right-wing populism
is just a threat to our democracy
or might, in some ways, also be a corrective
for a party system that might be based on social cleavages
that don't represent the majority of the population anymore.
The second question, of course,
is religion just a fuel to national populism
or can it also work as a barrier,
and under which circumstances?
And then, finally, what does this mean
for the future of faith in society?
Does this mean we are seeing, really,
the threat that some liberality of a theocracy,
of a secularization of the secular?
Or are we not rather seeing the secularization
of the sacred, the emergence of a post-religious right
and the turning of Christianity
into a purely cultural identity marker?
I don't know the answers yet,
but nor does The Donald, (audience laughing)
so I hope you might.
Thank you very much.
- You can have a seat. - Yeah.
- You can have a mic.
And then I can pass around the other one
for anyone who has a question.
You can hold this without the stand.
- [Sheridan] Hi, thank you.
I'm with the British Council.
I really appreciate your presentation.
Just wanted some perspective on the size of these parties,
like how much of the population
tends to vote for them in Europe, that kind of thing.
I know that white Evangelicals in the US
punch well above their weight in the ballot box,
and are shrinking right now.
Is that the case in western Europe as well?
Is it that most of the population in western Europe
is religious and of the same religion
and so they all kind of tend that way?
Can you give me some perspective?
- I mean, the thing is, in Europe, obviously, you have,
the Christian right is much, much smaller.
There are are some data there that many countries in Europe
are actually now majority irreligious,
where not even majority would consider themselves
Christian at all, let alone church-attending Christians.
That would be about between 1% and 5% of people
actually go to church.
And then Evangelicalism is also
very, very different in Europe.
In this respect, it's very, very different to the US.
But both are declining.
But that does not necessarily solve the problem
of national populism.
On the contrary,
the electorate of national populism in Europe
tends to be the irreligious folk.
They tend to be the people who don't go to church.
So the shrinking of the practicing religious voters
actually helps the right-wing populists.
Because were there,
for instance, if we take the French model,
had there been, say, a million more churchgoing Catholics,
chances would've been Francois Fillon might be president now
because he would've won in that first round.
The thing is that we really see
the emergence of a new secular right,
of people who might identify culturally as Christian
but who have no association with that.
And it's really interesting that this is growing.
This didn't used to exist
or only very, very marginal in the US.
But what is interesting is that this is growing.
We see the number of Republicans
who view themselves as irreligious
doubling or tripling over the last few decades.
We even see people who self-identify as Evangelical
now increasingly saying, "But I don't go to church.
"I don't practice my religion.
"I'm a cultural Evangelical,"
which is a new term that didn't used to exist.
The very definition of Evangelical
used to mean you are practicing.
So we are seeing this emergence of this electorate.
In Germany, France, the US,
I would put that number maybe at 20%, 25%,
but they can get way more
depending on whether they ally with other parties,
depending on how big the social gap was.
In the United States, it's probably still small.
I still think the religious voters in the Republican Party
would strongly outnumber the more secular right.
But I think the religious voters in the GOP
are also slowly going down,
and the irreligious voters in the GOP are going up,
so we see. (speaks faintly)
- [Kim] Hi, Tobias.
I liked your discussion of--
- Tell us who you are. (speaks faintly)
- [Kim] Hi, my name's Kim Daniels
and I'm from the Initiative
on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.
You talked about the split in the US
between elite Christian leaders and Christians in the pews,
and you talked about the fact that they're not,
Christians in the pews aren't following the views of elites.
You pointed to the unwillingness of elites
to speak out, et cetera.
I'm wondering if there might be another reason
and that's almost a parallel magisterium, if you will,
so that Russell Moore, Christianity Today
don't get as much play as Paula White and Franklin Graham
or those Christians who go on Fox News.
For Catholics, the same thing.
The bishops might put out a statement
that disappears in the bowels of the internet,
but that Catholics who are willing to speak out on EWTN
also support it.
Finally, is there something similar in Europe?
- I definitely think that that plays a significant role,
that the media in the US contribute to that
because you obviously try to take the most extreme voices.
But Paula White was no mainstream
Christian leader before that,
so it's really not through the institution.
But that is part of the American structure.
It's not as hierarchical.
You can have other people talking for Catholicism,
which would be unthinkable in France,
a Catholic contradicting the pope and the bishops,
which here that seems more possible.
But I definitely think that plays a role.
In Europe, I just don't think that that is the case
to the same extent.
First of all, you don't have
established religious national populist voices
as you do have some established Christian right voices
who might not have an institutional elite status
but might have an elite status just by the virtue
of their social media following
or by their public appearances.
That just doesn't exist to the same extent
in Europe, in western Europe.
In western Europe, there is, I think,
also still a much more hierarchical view of religion,
that institutions still matter much more.
And you usually only have one or two churches.
So then this would be a church internal debate,
and then you go with hierarchy.
In the US, because you have so many different denominations,
somebody who's just leader of one church
can become a major voice.
In Europe, you wouldn't be a major voice
just because you have one congregation.
You would have to be a bishop.
You would have to be up in that hierarchy,
which then changes.
And the media also look for this.
I mean, in Germany, it's actually very interesting.
Churches have an institutional role in the public media
of saying who, like what is on their program,
et cetera, et cetera.
In many European countries, you still have this
state and church being less separate,
then churches actually having a role in these things.
But I think media plays a very significant role
in this context, yes.
- [Tom] Tobias, Tom Getman.
Thanks for the invitation.
Good to see you.
Picking up on some of the things we heard
and talked about the other night
at Melissa Rogers' presentation,
I suspect that religion is going to be
both a barrier and a surge,
and we're gonna see this sorted out
certainly in the coming election.
But I wonder, have you spent time with organizations
like Evangelicals for Social Action and Sojourners,
related agencies that have their roots, really,
in Catholic social teaching for a lot of the people?
And have you met Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
who's written a very interesting book
that intersects with what you're talking about,
called "From Wall Street to Timbuktu"?
He points out that the geographic center
of Christianity has moved
from early in the 20th century Europe,
the late 20th century United States,
to, presently, the Southern Hemisphere.
We see the phenomena of Pentecostalism
that is really left-wing in many places.
So I wonder if you've reflected on that at all.
I just wanna thank you, too, for helping to define
a lot of the things that many of us are feeling.
- Thank you.
Thanks a lot for that question.
I think it's actually absolutely crucial
that we are, in fact, witnessing the emergence more and more
amongst the most practicing Evangelicals,
so in Christian colleges, for instance,
but also in institutions like the NAE,
we see much more of an internationalist approach,
looking, saying, "Well, actually,
"this white nationalist idea of white Christian America
"doesn't resonate with us."
Our Evangelicals, even in the US,
if you count African Americans and Latinos
and Asian Americans, well then actually it isn't that white.
Evangelicalism isn't that white
and it looks, in the next couple of decades,
there won't be a white majority even among Evangelicals.
So they are understanding that this is happening.
In particular, as I say,
the people who go to church most frequently
and the people who, the clergy and the leaders
are recognizing that.
There is, therefore, I think, to an extent,
this gap between, on the one hand,
the people who are in the institutions who see that
and the people outside the institutions
who are becoming more and more alienated,
for whom Christianity isn't actually necessarily
about the church and the congregation
that you go to every Sunday,
but it's something of a nostalgia.
It's like it's part of what we were in the 1950s,
which is very different.
It's not today's alive Christianity
that we see, in many ways.
And it's very hard for many people
to come to grasp with that,
but we do see the emergence of a Christian left,
in many respects.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately,
it's to be seen to what extent
maybe the Democratic Party is picking up on that or not.
Because, in some respects, there is significant potential.
I've talked to a lot of,
I mean, Shaun will be able to talk much more to that
than I would be,
but I have talked to quite a few advisors
of presidential campaigns in the primaries
and earlier in the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign
that there is in particular the minority groups
in the Democratic Party are pushing for that.
They are saying, "We want these faith aspects.
"We want to have a Christian left in there."
And it's very often, traditionally,
it's changing a bit, I think, nowadays,
but it has been for the last five, 10 years
very often the college-educated, white, upper-middle-class,
secular, Ivy League graduates who say, "No, no, no.
"We do identity politics based on ethnicity
"and because you're a minority, you'll vote for us,
"but we don't necessarily, that does not mean
"that we take all of your Christian values into that.
"We are less about values.
"We are more about the minority-majority idea."
And the interesting thing is, what they told me,
this is not coming from minority voters themselves.
This seems to come more from many staffers.
The question is to what extent
the Democrats will see that as an electoral opportunity
or whether they think this is not important enough.
- [Tom] You have to write a second book.
- (laughs) Maybe.
- [Josh] Sort of tied to Kim's question.
Josh Good from Ethics & Public Policy Center.
Wondered if you might dilate a little bit
on what you observed in talking with pastors
and religious leaders who expressed tension
between speaking up forthrightly about their own perspective
on what's happening in the country
and maybe its white populism or Trump
versus keeping their mouths shut
because they may not resonate fully
with those at the back of the pews.
And, more broadly, one wonders,
with the opening that you have there
on whether populism is a corrective or a threat,
if there's some broad corrective happening,
recalling Charles Murray and the divide that exists
between the Secretary of State and the truck driver.
If that existed and that is part of what's being corrected,
one would think it would be a corrective
but not something that has long staying power.
But this religious question about the gap
between the elite leadership and those in the pews,
is intriguing for its own right
as to what those voters may do,
how those Christians may engage them. (speaks faintly)
- Maybe quickly, on the positive side,
I talked to quite a few.
I assume you're talking about American pastors,
not about the European ones.
I talked to quite a few of them,
and the main few usually is, as you say,
on the one hand,
we don't want to lose our jobs from the top,
we don't want to lose access also to politics,
but we also worry that our congregants will leave,
that there were also even a threat to the Christian witness,
that they might say, "If you disagree with me on politics,
"why should I trust your interpretation of John
"or your interpretation of Mark, if we disagree on that?"
So there is this worry.
What is interesting, though, is I think that it is,
to an extent, a collective action problem almost,
because if an individual will speak up on that,
then you can always say, "Well, this is a marginal voice."
It was very interesting then,
when Christianity Today published that editorial,
they lost, I think, about 3,000.
I think it was actually on your podcast.
They lost about 3,000 subscribers
and gained about 6,000 or 9,000.
- 11. - 11,000, 11,000.
And it appears that many of these people
are actually Christian clergy
and that there are a lot of emails coming in
of people saying, "Thank you for speaking out.
"I had that on my mind but never dared to say that.
"Now, we can finally discuss that
"and I don't have to say this is my view
"but we can say, 'Oh, in the congregation,
"'shall we discuss the Christianity Today editorial?'"
The more voices that speak out,
the easier it gets for other pastors
to at least talk about it.
Don't necessarily have to say I agree with that
or disagree with that, but at least bring it up.
As to the corrective, I do think that,
especially in society writ large,
not just the Christian part but society writ large,
I do think it might, that national populists, in many ways,
have the right diagnosis.
They see that there has been a problem,
that these communitarians have been unrepresented,
that there was a gap of representation
of a large part of the population that feel alienated,
that can't participate, for whom the American Dream is dead,
as I think Tim Carney put it in his book,
who can't participate in the same way,
and who are forgotten by elites.
The thing is then, of course, you might disagree
whether their remedies are the ones that help,
in particular, again,
whether it's helping in the religious context.
Because, again, Christians are then put into that group
for whom the American Dream is dead.
But if you looked more closely, actually, no,
they're different people.
There might actually be potential for Christians
to say, "Well, yes, there's a problem,
"but we can solve it in a different way.
"We don't have to revert to nationalism.
"We can have other less exclusivist group identities
"such as faith groups,
"such as other institutions, et cetera."
Hannah Arendt has this great, great quote,
I won't get the full quote,
but that no society is as susceptible to nationalism
as an atomized one,
where you don't have a lot of civil society,
where you don't have a lot of churches,
where you don't have a lot of institutions.
Then the only group identity reference point
becomes the nation.
I think we are seeing that risk a bit,
and I actually think churches might be able
to play a role in that
and still being that social institution again
that helps creating community and group identity.
- [Katherine] Katherine Marshall from the Berkley Center.
Three questions that I think might be related but might not.
The first is, I'd be interested in your views
as to what's happening and why.
In other words, what's the trend and what really is at work?
Second is, how far have you looked
at the gender differences?
Which is interesting, given, of course,
how many of the cultural issues turn around women's bodies
and other kinds of body issues.
And the third is that so much of what you say
echoes what's happening in India and Myanmar,
where it goes under the, really,
the label of religious nationalism.
It seems that there are an awful lot of echoes,
including, of course, the focus on Islam,
that seems to be quite striking.
So is this beyond Christianity,
or do you see that as a different phenomenon?
- No, I think that it is beyond Christianity.
We do see that people like Olivier Roy have, I think,
contributed some exceptional scholarship to showing
that the surge of Islam or Muslim religiosity in the West
is a similar identitarian development, in some respects,
amongst many young people see it
as a cultural identity marker.
It's not necessarily about going to mosque
and practicing Islam, but it is we are Muslim
because we are not integrated in these societies
and that is the defining difference.
Even, I mean, this is probably off the topic
but it's very interesting that if you look at the profile
of Islamic terrorists,
these are not the people who go to mosque.
These are not the people who grew up in a mosque,
who are really within these religious institutions.
These are people who very often were looking for identity,
struggled with their identity,
and then found this substitute identity
and then radicalized.
But it was more about really finding their,
who are we, what group can I be part of.
So I think it's definitely beyond Christianity.
We do see that, as you say, in India and Myanmar.
We also see it, obviously,
again, this is more Christianity, but in Russia,
in eastern Europe, in Brazil.
I'm not that much of a specialist for these regions.
I think there are are some parallel trends,
that it is religious nationalism.
What might be different, to an extent,
is that in western Europe and in the US,
there is a starker divide
between the secular right and the religious right.
I think, in many of these countries,
really merging together.
So I think, actually, in eastern Europe,
we see a lot of populism,
but there, it is, to a large extent,
also religious populism.
They are also socially conservative.
They talk about abortion.
They have the Church on their side.
It's really more merged together.
Whereas I think in western Europe and North America,
largely, I think, as part of secularization itself,
you have the right wing
without these commitments to religious issues,
where it's really becoming purely a cultural identity
much rather than a religious identity.
As to the gender differences,
I think that's actually really fascinating question
that I want to look more at.
I haven't done sufficiently.
But one interesting trend is, again,
that the supporters of national populist movements
tend to be disproportionately male.
In the US, they also tend to be
disproportionately older male.
Interestingly, in Europe, they also tend to be
disproportionately younger males.
So it is really very, very male.
So a voter for the Front National in France
is very often a young man who's secular.
Which is completely the contrary demography
of the traditional Christian right in France
who are traditionally more female,
who are churchgoing, and who tend to be older.
So these are also just two very different demographics.
This is actually leading to another interesting point,
is that the schism of the right.
They're also demographically very different.
Both in the United States and in western Europe,
church attendance becomes more and more an elite thing.
I think Rob Putnam once said,
"If you hear the hymns in the churches today,
"it's very likely to be upper-class accents,"
because these are the people who tend to go to church more.
It's the working class that is alienated
and doesn't attend church to the same extent.
And very often, these two demographics also clash.
So I think gender plays a massive role
but also class, in that context.
But then I'm a qualitative scholar
so I couldn't make authoritative statements,
but I definitely think that is really important,
the gender difference.
- [Tatiana] Thank you very much for interesting
and an excellent presentation.
I've got some ideas for my research also,
so (laughs) thank you so much.
I'm curious, one mention.
I didn't notice the sources in your presentation.
I'm interested in datas,
how you present in some datas and not.
So in your PhD, please include sources
because I'll be interested
to read them. - Yeah.
- [Tatiana] The second question is related about cases,
how you choose the cases, countries,
and why Italy is not presented in your speech.
The next question is, in your research,
in your field research, in your questionnaire,
in your interviews, did you notice some kind of,
or you tackled this aspect of collaboration or connection
between American conservative organization
from the United States
and far-right parties from European Union,
some kind of support or common ideas or alliances?
I'll be interest to find more about this.
Thank you so much.
- Tell us who you are. (speaks faintly)
- [Tatiana] I'm Tatiana Cojocari.
I'm visiting researcher at the Berkley Center from Romania.
- I think, absolutely, very happy to share my sources.
I wasn't entirely sure that people would want to read
about 800, (laughs) (audience laughing)
800 books on there.
I'm happy to share that with you.
My Zotero account is currently exploding.
There is actually really interesting data.
It's actually a shame,
Alan Cooperman was hoping to come.
He would've been able to give you some more
from the quantitative side on that.
But there's really a lot of work going on at the moment
who are way better qualified than I am in number-crunching.
As for the case selection,
part of the reason is,
this PhD, you have to make a selection.
Yes, I would love to include Italy.
Italy would be perfect.
I went to Italy, I saw some more towns like this, perfect.
The same as people in the Netherlands
and Denmark and Sweden and the UK.
Would've been interesting.
It's just, at some point, you have to make a cut.
The reason why I selected Germany, France, and the US
is I wanted a variety of Christian voices.
I wanted Catholic France.
I wanted to have one country with one church
that was very Catholic on one side.
I wanted to have different,
and then obviously Protestantism, mainland Protestantism
being very dominant in Germany.
And then the United States with this whole
array of different sources,
in particular Evangelical Christianity coming there.
I really wanted to have a comparison
between what's happening on both sides of the Atlantic.
This is why I wanted to include the United States
and this is why I included two countries from western Europe
instead of just one, because I wanted to show the array.
Also, really, structurally, I wanted to look
at how different institutional settlements
of church-state relations play out.
Because in Germany, we have a system
of what is called benevolent neutrality,
where all the churches are state churches,
so the churches are very, very intertwined
with politics at the highest level.
Institutionally, there's very close cooperation
between the state and the churches.
Then France, having a very secularist,
both in legal terms but also in its expression,
where secularism is almost a religion in its own right,
where really this is practiced very, very strongly
and where the churches are a bit of the underdogs.
They're not part of the elites.
As a Catholic in France, you're really a bit of the,
and this institution, politically, underdog.
You wouldn't walk into the president's office
in the same way that the German bishop
might walk into the Chancellery.
And then the United States,
which is legally similar to France in many ways,
in having a clear separation between church and state,
but which is socially very different
because, in the public sphere, you have such a vital
and strong Christianity at play,
where I think the French ambassador once said,
(speaks faintly) that the French idea
is to protect the state from the church,
and the US idea is a bit more
protect the church from the state.
So different interpretations of this model.
Of course, there are more nuances,
but this is why I wanted to do that.
And then, finally, also the electoral systems
because I'm also looked at how they set the rule
of having a Christian alternative in that.
In Germany, we have a Christian Democratic Party,
it's very straightforward.
In France, we have that great system of being binary,
having presidential election majority
but being more proportional
when it comes to the parties that they vote,
so you have a multi-polar party system, not just binary.
And then in the US, of course,
where you have only two parties
and you actually look at populist movements within parties
rather than them having their own party.
So these were the rationales
behind selecting these case studies.
Oh, and yes, finding connections.
There are tons of connections.
I won't go too deeply into it.
But, I mean, Steven Bannon has helped me a lot
just by going to Europe and say,
"We are creating this populist, nationalist international,"
and just creating that network
of populists working together,
which also helps with the definition
because now I don't have to run around and say,
"This is my definition, they fit into it."
I can just say, "They self-define as such."
And then I can say, "These are my case studies
"that all say, 'We are the same.'"
So that is very helpful. (chuckles)
(Kristof speaking in foreign language)
- [Kristof] My name is Kristof.
I'm an undergrad here at Georgetown, and I'm also German.
We're both Lutheran.
We met at another Berkley Center event.
Historically, the Catholic Church seems to have
a normative political mandate.
You see that, I guess, throughout history,
when the Catholic Church was much more intertwined
with the political system.
You also see that today, perhaps,
with, say, refusing Joe Biden communion
so long as he supports abortion.
While Martin Luther,
and, by extent, most of the Protestant Churches,
have simply said something to the effect,
"As long as you're not doing something bad
"or immoral in your political position,
"it's okay to just be a politician for politics' sake."
Gave us, in some ways, the Enlightenment.
This sort of political difference
between Protestantism and Catholicism, at least in Europe,
seems to me historically present.
Do you see that today in, say, Germany
or other Protestant and Catholic countries
with the populist right?
Do they approach
these political movements differently,
no matter church attendance?
(speaking in foreign language)
- Thank you very much for those questions.
I think that is definitely a really interesting question,
in particular with the Catholic Church,
that they do have this moral mandate.
I would say that,
whilst theologically that might've been true
for a long time, we see more recently,
if you look at the Christian right, for instance,
then 10 years ago, 20 years ago,
personal morality was absolutely front and center for them.
They were saying it does matter what a politician does
in his personal life.
It's not just about the separation.
I think, in this respect, actually, the history in Germany
has played a significant role.
There were people who were saying,
"We can't just say it's only about the Church
"and if you don't agree with the Church,
"you can do whatever you want,
"because then you might do like the Third Reich."
And really just say that churches have to change
and have to be politically involved,
which is why in Germany we actually have this role
of benevolent neutrality,
where the state really wanted the churches to be active.
The churches have a constitutional role
because they are saying,
and this is the, you might have heard of it,
the Bockenforde-Diktum, that the secular liberal state
is not capable of providing the basis on which it's working.
It needs civil society.
It needs other bodies
that create moral guidance, in this respect.
That was then said after the Second World War in Germany.
These are primarily the churches.
This should be the Protestant Church in Germany,
this should be the Catholic Church in Germany,
and therefore, the only,
in Germany, you could, in theory,
get rid of maths in schools.
You could get rid of German idea of German literature.
You could get rid of any subject.
There's only one subject that's constitutionally protected,
and that's religious education.
So that is still in there.
So I do think that we have these normative ideas
in many, many respects.
The Catholic Church is, of course, more independent
from a state in doing that.
So in Germany, a Protestant church might do that
because the state invites it to do it.
In France, the state says don't do that,
and the Catholics still do that.
So I think the Catholic Church has that advantage.
It actually behaves in a more uniform way across,
comparatively, across different countries
because it is an international institution
and it does have this gentleman in Rome
who people will have to bear in mind
if they make some decisions, which is very interesting.
Whereas Protestants are just much more arrayed,
being much more left-wing influences in Germany
and probably much more conservative in the United States.
- Erica Rodgers with Youth for Human Rights.
You've talked a lot about, obviously,
these different political parties
and how they vary from both the US and in Europe.
I would be curious, with all of the different ministers
and members of the clergy that you interviewed,
what role do you feel religious tolerance
and this acceptance to,
'cause obviously there are many different religions
and all these different religions both play a role
in civil society as well as, occasionally, in politics,
so what role do you feel that really kind of promotion
of religious tolerance or belief,
whether it's no belief at all or whichever belief,
and kind of what role you see or may have observed
in your different interviews.
- I think that is a fantastic question.
There's really a very interesting divide
between Europe and the US.
I think the US also moving, again, more towards Europe.
But in Europe, it's really interesting that,
and to many respects, the populist right will say,
"All these Muslims can't do that
"because we are a Christian nation.
"All these shouldn't be practicing their faith as openly,"
et cetera, et cetera, "we are a Christian nation."
Actually, the Christian churches that go
and protect religious minorities in these contexts,
the Christians are the most supportive,
or the churches tend to be the most supportive,
of Muslim Islamic freedom of religion.
They say, "No, no, no.
"They should be able to build this mosque."
It's very interesting.
I talked to a lot of French bishops, et cetera,
who told me that post-declining church attendance,
they are turning, they have to give up on a lot of churches.
And often, they would like to turn this into a mosque
because there are a lot of Muslims
in the community, et cetera.
And then it suddenly,
when the church is actually very happy to do that,
that they then say,
then you get a lot of populists coming in
and all of a sudden, they care about the church.
Haven't set foot into this church for 20, 30, 40 years,
but suddenly they come and care about this
and say, "We have to defend this Catholic identity."
And it's the churches that then work together
with the Muslim community to say, "We'd rather have that."
It's really interesting that you see,
especially on the elite level
but also rank-and-file practicing Catholics and Protestants,
they tend to be much more open,
much more positive towards Islam
than the average secular voter in Germany and France.
So people who are very, very strong
on church-state separation, on secularism,
often tend to be significantly less tolerant
of the practice of Islam or of other minority religion
than churchgoing Protestants and Catholics.
That is a very interesting development.
In the US, of course, it's different.
But among white Evangelicals, it's actually fantastic.
I think Emily Elkin has a great study on that.
I think she showed that church attendance
is positively correlated,
the frequency of church attendance among conservatives
is positively correlated with greater openness to Islam.
The Evangelicals who attend church the least
tend to be the most worried about Islam in society,
and the Evangelicals who go to church every week
or more than weekly tend to be the least worried about it.
So that is an interesting dynamic.
(speaks faintly) If you are a secular liberal,
you are even more supportive
But within the conservative camp, there is this correlation
between religiosity and openness towards other religions.
- In the two minutes we have left,
let me ask you a couple of questions,
and then we will thank you.
I'm wondering if you, in your conversations,
if you noticed, at least anecdotally,
the new economic architecture
between the United States and European Christians.
When you think about the World Congress of Families,
Samaritan's Purse, the National Prayer Breakfast,
the National Homeschools Association,
the Russian Orthodox Church, the Bannon network,
it seems like there's a new fiscal architecture
emerging around populist networks.
I'd be curious, even anecdotally, what you see.
The second question is,
there's a coterie of what I call exiles,
some of the Never Trumper Christians,
some Catholic, some Evangelical.
I think about Michael Gerson.
I think about Pete Wehner,
Russell Moore, Tom Farr, Chris Seiple.
These were people who were very clear
they were Never Trumpers,
and they haven't fully joined in the administration.
Some of them have different degrees of alienation.
I'm just curious if you have a conclusion
about this new class of exiles.
What is their trajectory in this country, going forward?
- That's the question.
I'll start with the economic architecture
but (speaks faintly) ask the questions.
But it does seem that this architecture
is used to connect primarily the US
with eastern Europe and Russia, so we see that a lot.
Particularly when it comes to the religious bit.
These Christian right funding bodies.
- [Shaun] But if the Russian Orthodox Church
moves further west, though.
- Yeah, you do have that.
But it is interesting that,
I talked, for instance, I was in France
and I talked to some members of the Le Pen clan
just after it came out that there was a lot of money
going back and forwards between the US and Russia
and these things, and they were very, very strong,
like, "We don't take money from these Evangelicals
"and we don't take money from that."
The religious side, I think, is more on the
really eastern Europe and North America.
And you do have it.
I mean, you do have a small marginal Christian right
and radical Christian right in Europe,
but this is like in the 1% margin.
So this is very, very small.
It's more the secular right.
However, they do take the money
and they do take the support, to some extent,
of a Steve Bannon movement.
But even then, it's very interesting that, anecdotally,
I met with a lot of leaders, and I was saying,
"Oh, how does this compare to what Steve Bannon is doing?"
Really might be a bit of European arrogance,
but it was like, "We don't need Uncle Sam to come tell us
"how to do populism." (audience laughing)
And that, in a lot of ways, they didn't really like this
having somebody from the US come over and tell them,
"Now, get yourself organized."
So that is important as well,
that they do their own populism.
But they do see themselves as kindred in spirit,
in some ways.
As to the Never Trump, it's actually very interesting.
I just had breakfast this morning with Pete Wehner,
so we were talking about that.
I think it's the question what they do about it.
It's really the question.
It will be hard to do anything, I think,
during the administration.
I don't think that we'll ever win, to put it like this.
But the fact, to have these voices,
and we saw that with the Christianity Today article,
the very fact that you have these voices,
a lot of other people feel more encouraged
to speak up about this.
So I do think, even though it might feel lost,
they might feel lost in some ways,
they're doing something that can actually have
a quite significant effect.
Especially, the question is, what will happen,
I don't think that the Christian right
will abandon Donald Trump in 2020
because he actually is delivering on many of the issues.
I'm not sure whether they are winning the war
or just victories in that,
because they are giving up on some other issues.
But I think, after Trump, there will be the question
for the Republican Party whether they want to become
a European-style white nationalist party,
which might well be, which might actually have,
by then, the demographics will have moved.
Maybe they are then more secularized
and they might get more votes,
being a secular European right, European-style right.
Or they could try to push for that and say,
"No, we are focusing on social conservatism,
"we are focusing on these traditional issues,
"and we are opening our coalition
"to conservative African Americans
"and conservative Latino Americans."
And I think, by keeping this voice up,
these Never Trumpers conservatives but still conservatives,
they are basically carrying the flag.
And once the question is asked again in 2024,
"What will be next?" then they can come out.
I think the biggest problem
is that there's no really national leading figure in that.
I think somebody like Paul Ryan,
if he had decided to step down a different way
and speak out in a different way
could be or could still become that sort of figure,
or somebody like Ben Sasse or Jeff Flake.
But what we actually see more recently
is that these people become quieter and not more outspoken.
So it's the question where they would go,
whether they will say, just stay quiet,
or, "We want to be that voice
"that will be ostracized on the right for a few years
"but might then have better chances." (speaks faintly)
- Well, thank you very much.
I wanna say thanks to everybody who came,
to Ruth Gopin for her excellent work,
but also, let's take a moment to thank Tobias
for his wonderful presentation.