National Religion and Christian Faith in Northern Ireland. The Power of the Transcendent in Northern Irish Politics

Conflict in Northern Ireland has always had a strong religious dimension. The anti-Roman Catholic basis of the British state until 1829 made Catholic Emancipation the first ideological theme of Irish nationalism. Thereafter, the Catholic Church was often only agency able to mediate between the British and Northern Irish authorities and the Catholic laity. The Protestant Churches cooperated closely with the state itself. The importance of protestantism was less as a locus of independent institutions than ideological, providing a sustainable base of opposition to Irish unity under Catholic domination. Political ideologies were overwhelmingly identified with communities of one confession or another and even in an age of secularisation, religious tradition
still defines the boundaries of national identity. The transcendent claims of Christianity and nationalism were fused and the boundary between the two blurred. The decline of formal church attendance may not therefore mean the end of religious element in Northern Irish politics. Rather, nationalism is understood as making religious demands on its adherents and the conflict itself
is understood as sacred.
This article explores the interconnection between Christianity, nationalism and the sacred in Northern Ireland since 1920.

Erschienen in: traverse 2000/3, S. 33