Political religion  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The theory of political religion concerns governmental ideologies whose cultural and political backing is so strong that they are said to attain power equivalent to those of a state religion, with which they often exhibit significant similarities in both theory and practice. In addition to basic forms of politics, like parliament and elections, it also holds an aspect of sacralization related to the institutions contained within the regime and also provides the inner measures traditionally considered to be religious territory, such as ethics, values, symbols, myths, rituals and for example a national liturgical calendar.

Political religious organizations, such as the Nazi Party, adhered to the idealization of cultural and political power over the country at large. The church body of the state no longer held control over the practices of religious identity. Because of this, Nazism was countered by many political and religious organizations as being a political religion, based on the dominance which the Nazi regime had (Gates and Steane). Political religions generally vie with existing traditional religions, and may try to replace or eradicate them. The term was given new attention by the political scientist Hans Maier.

Totalitarian societies are perhaps more prone to political religion, but various scholars have described features of political religion even in democracies, for instance American civil religion as described by Robert Bellah in 1967.

The term is sometimes treated as synonymous with civil religion, but although some scholars use the terms equivalently, others see a useful distinction, using "civil religion" as something weaker, which functions more as a socially unifying and essentially conservative force, whereas a political religion is radically transformational, even apocalyptic.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Political religion" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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