Anarchism and religious studies
This chapter provides some of the ways in which anarchism and religious studies intersect and influence each other’s imagination. It considers some classic anarchist quarrels with religion and its institutions and explores the scholarship on anarchist interpretations of founding religious scriptures and figures. The chapter discusses the growing interest in anarchist ‘theology’ as distinct from scriptural exegesis and explains the variety of historiographical studies on specific religious anarchist thinkers, communities, and movements. Despite the traditional anti-clericalism and frequent atheism of much anarchism, the intersection of religious studies and anarchism has proved a fertile ground for a variety of analyses, indeed with renewed attention in recent years. Religious traditions, even ‘sacred’ texts, are rarely swallowed uncritically by their followers, but rather are engaged with, interrogated, reflected upon both individually and in community. ‘Theology’ is a term that can be misunderstood in non-religious circles, and sometimes the word ‘theological’ gets used almost as a synonym for ‘religious’.