Religion is on the rise again in the West and specifically “secular” Europe, mostly due to the influx of new religions via migration, new political conflicts, and the growing (re)assertion of the Christian heritage among domestic actors. This chapter discusses the extent to which religions provide an ideological component of the radical right, what kind of religion is at play, and whether and how religion can be used to explain the radical right’s successes. It looks at religion in the development and organizational profile of major radical right actors, explores the relevance of religion in the far right, and places the radical right trajectory into a larger context of societal and political change. It concludes that religion functions as a relevant context factor and frame for political mobilization, even in secularized societies, against the perceived threat of rapid sociocultural change and its (alleged) agents and protagonists.
When Max Weber began his work on the historical importance of the relationship between the Protestant ethic and modern capitalism, he committed himself to the most enduring of his theoretical interests, the economic ethic of the most important religions. Investigating central issues in Max Weber’s study on ancient Judaism, this chapter points to its relevance for the understanding of contemporary populism. For this purpose, two key aspects of his work are emphasized: this religion’s rationality—inescapable for the understanding of Western modernity—and the charisma of the biblical prophets, based on their social and political position as well as on the affective bond they formed with the masses. Both aspects provide important insights for the assessment of contemporary populist movements.