Does the word nationalism specifically imply a feeling of kindred superiority in a secular sense?

For instance, if country X opposes themselves to country Y based on religious practice or reasons, would we still refer to country X's behavior as nationalism? In this scenario let us assume country X has no issue with a third country where the same religion is practiced as in country Y.

What if country X's claim to their homeland is based on a religious belief, would any behaviors which would have been classified as nationalism now be called something else?

  • The modern nation-state is a modern invention. Nationalism usually involves such an entity, or the desire to become such an entity because of ethnic identity. Pakistan, Israel, Iraq, and Kurdistan are modern examples of nationalisms. There is no Kurdish nation-state at the moment, but there is certainly Kurdish nationalism. I don't think you can use a religion that way, though -- 'Shi'a nationalism' or 'Sikh nationalism' just don't sound right. – John Lawler May 25 '16 at 19:05
  • But take Israel or Saudi Arabia or Japan for that matter, all these peoples feel connected to their homelands from a religious point of view. It's not like a European country for instance. Those are specifically the types of situations I'm wondering about. – user6591 May 25 '16 at 19:08
  • Sorry, but I have never heard that the Japanese feel "connected to their homeland" via religion. Nationalism doesn't necessarily connote feeling superior. Don't forget: jingoism. or ultra-nationalism.Countries that oppose themselves to others based on religion would not be engaging in nationalism. And no country overtly does that anyway....nationalism is shown by people or groups of people, not by "countries". – Lambie May 25 '16 at 19:21
  • Nationalism is tribalism combined with a desire to have an autonomous government. Tribalism can be religous, or sanguine, or even philosophical. None of these are incompatible with nationalism. – MetaEd May 25 '16 at 19:23
  • @Lambie look up the Japanese mythological origins. Here's an excerpt from one wiki page: According to legend, Amaterasu bequeathed to her descendant Ninigi: the mirror, Yata no Kagami; the jewel,Yasakani no Magatama; and the sword,Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. This sacred mirror, jewel, and sword collectively became the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. – user6591 May 25 '16 at 19:30

Taking this purely as a language question and not a philosophical one, I would say the answer is no, you can certainly have religious nationalism.

  • "Are Hindu nationalists a danger to other Indians?"

  • Zionism (Hebrew: צִיּוֹנוּת Tsiyyonut IPA: [t͡sijo̞ˈnut] after Zion) is a nationalist and political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Palestine, Canaan or the Holy Land).


  • Dominion Theology is a grouping of theocratic ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on understandings of biblical law. Extents of rule and ways of achieving governing authority are varied. For example, Dominion Theology can include theonomy, but does not necessarily involve advocating Mosaic law as the basis of government. The label is applied primarily toward groups of Protestants in the United States.

    Prominent adherents are otherwise theologically diverse, including Calvinist Christian Reconstructionism, Charismatic/Pentecostal Kingdom Now theology, New Apostolic Reformation and others. Most of the contemporary movements labeled Dominion Theology arose in the 1970s from religious movements reasserting aspects of Christian nationalism.



Nationalism is just a form of statism - the belief in state - and is as much a religion as Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. They all have their holy texts (Constitution, Bible, Koran, Torah), their prophets (president/king, Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham), their rituals (voting, communion, Hegira, Sabbath), and many other common concepts. In that context, I submit that nationalism is always religious.

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    Can you explain how religion was involved in the breakup of the English/Spanish/French colonial empires into separate nations? – Mitch May 25 '16 at 21:28
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    No, nationalism is about nations and nation states. Religion is about re-linking up with some god. re-ligare. – Lambie May 25 '16 at 23:07
  • I don't think either of you understood my answer. – Elkvis May 26 '16 at 13:02
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    I don't think you understood the OP then. You're answering them philosophically but the OP is asking about the words (not the contexts behind them, as much as those can be separated here). Religious situations encompass many things, and many of those are shared with governmental things, but the word 'religion' evokes necessarily the mystical part of religiously connected things, and 'nationalism' evokes necessarily the organizational. – Mitch Jun 24 '16 at 22:05

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