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  • Justin Hawkins

Rene Girard on Why Christians Should Not be Populists

I am late to discovering Rene Girard. The first conscious notice I took of him was in multiple obituaries published upon his death in November 2015. So I began reading him with interest just as the 2016 Presidential campaign was heading up and the GOP began making clear that they intended to initiate some significant decrease in Muslim immigrants and refugees into the country. I found his analysis of scapegoating to have powerful explanatory force for these developments.

At his worst, Girard is a theorist of one idea (mimetic rivalry/scapegoating), and attempts to explain the entire world with that one idea. So many of his analyses seem to me to be a stretch. But if the Crisis of Liberalism has caused Christians to become more interested in robustly Christian political ideas, then Girard ought to be a more central part of that conversation. Here I try to bring Rene Girard to bear on contemporary movements toward populism, and I argue that Christians should not be populists:


For Girard, then, populism of the kind discussed previously and which so tempts many of America’s Christians today – which makes ample use of the logic of scapegoating – is a political ideology that has not been submitted to the logic of Christianity. It is, instead, a rival to Christianity. Both cannot be simultaneously true.

You can read the full piece over at Mere Orthodoxy.

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