Nazism as a secular religion

History and Theory 45 (3):375–396 (2006)
Abstract
This article examines the implications of Richard Steigmann-Gall's recent revisionist representation of Nazism as a Christian movement for the increasingly fashionable accounts of Nazism as a secular or political religion. Contrary to Steigmann-Gall's contention that Protestant Nazism undermines these accounts, I suggest that his portrayal of Nazism as a variant of Protestant millennialism is not necessarily inconsistent with the secular religion approach. A closer look at the so-called Löwith-Blumenberg debate on secularization indeed reveals that modern utopianisms containing elements of Protestant millennialism are the best candidates for the label of secularized eschatology. That Steigmann-Gall has reached exactly the opposite conclusion is primarily because his conceptual understanding of secular religion is uninformed by the secularization debate. Insofar as Steigmann-Gall extracts his model of secular religion from contemporary political religion historiography on Nazism, this article points to a larger problem: a disjunction between historians utilizing the concept, on the one hand, and philosophers and social theorists who have shaped it, on the other
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