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Equal before God, and God Alone: Cultural Fundamentalism, (Anti-)Egalitarianism and Christian Rhetoric in Nativist Discourse from Austria and the US


This article explores the use of Christian rhetoric by nativists in Austria and in the US in the 21st century. Based on a frame analysis of right-wing ephemera, it shows that while the Austrian Freedom Party has increasingly made use of religious allusions since 2005, it references Christianity as a cultural marker rather than as a faith. Ethnicity and culture are found to play a bigger role in Austrian nativist discourse than in the US, where the faith and value dimensions emerge as more prominent. The article describes different manoeuvres nativists perform to reconcile their policies – and the use of Christian rhetoric in this context – with Christian ethics (egalitarianism, hospitality imperative, etc.). Some of these manoeuvres are qualified as manifestations of cultural fundamentalism (Verena Stolcke), including the presentation of segregation as God's will, opposing immigration in the very name of a diligently reframed ‘neighbour love’, and blanket definitions of culturally ‘indigestible’ groups of immigrants. Inter-case differences are interpreted as effects from dissimilar traditions of nationalism and faith-politics relations, the distinct makeup of the two right-wing spectra, and demographical peculiarities in immigration flows.

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