Populism and nationalism are often seen as inextricably linked and, singularly or jointly, as toxic phenomena which are intrinsically unethical. A consequence is that working definitions of both often have an ethical deficit pre-loaded. In this chapter, Doug Gay develops the argument first advanced in his Honey From The Lion – Christianity and the Ethics of Nationalism that it is possible to conceive of an ethical nationalism and to posit what the theological conditions might be for such a position. He argues for a resetting of definitions of nationalism and populism towards more neutral formulations. He draws on the language of ‘discipleship’ to argue that, from the perspective of theological ethics, we learn how to be Scottish, Danish or Ghanaian and that such identities need to be ‘discipled’ (as opposed to simply ‘demonized’) so that they can be inhabited and performed ethically. This approach to the ethics of nationalism can be extended to growing debates around populism. The experience of active involvement with campaigns for Scottish independence is brought into dialogue with post-colonial perspectives to argue a distinctive case for a critical and nuanced ethics of nationalism and populism.
Profiles of the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown repeatedly characterize him by means of the terms 'Presbyterian' and 'Calvinist'. This article explores the cultural and theological background to how such terms are habitually used within the British media and offers a critical reflection, based on Brown's speeches, as to how religious terms, themes and identifications are in play in his public and political discourse. It identifies two dominant themes in Brown's recent public discourse: 'narrating Britishness' and 'the moral sense'. In reflection on these, the article suggests that Brown is intellectually estranged from Calvinist and Presbyterian theological traditions, defining his faith as 'a private matter' and rooting his moral sense in the traditions of the British and Scottish Enlightenments.