On/File: A Continuing Record of People, Groups, Movements, and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

1) The Catholic Land Movement is being revived after almost a century as some Catholics work to reclaim traditional European farming methods and ways of life. During a time of food crises and shortages, the effort is motivated by a desire for more autonomy in the way participants feed and provide for their families, physically as well as spiritually. Unlike the early-20th-century Catholic Land Associations, which

    Source: Catholic Rural Life.

arose in interwar Britain to combat what its adherents saw as the growing social isolation of industrial Europe, today’s movement is “distinctly 21st century, with methods and interests that align in surprising ways with more progressive causes.” Michael Guidice, known online as Michael Thomas of Sharon, tweets about homesteading in upstate New York, conservative politics, and the benefits of a return to the land, and is planning a Catholic Land Conference in August in Sharon Springs, New York. The village is described as “an emerging traditional Catholic community” located “25 miles from a TLM” (traditional Latin Mass church). Guidice said he sees an increasing interest among Catholics in family farming, self-sufficiency, and raising animals, even if they are not aware of the Catholic Land Movement. Echoing Guidice, religion scholar William Dinges sees a groundswell of interest in ecology from Catholics across the ideological spectrum. “Whatever’s going on with the new Catholic Land Movement,” he said, “I could assure you that there are many Catholics who are strong advocates for ecology, environment, strong supporters of [the encyclical] Laudato Si’, who would be more progressive, if you will. This is not a right-wing phenomenon at all.” (Source: Tablet, July 12)


2) Apolloism is the latest turn that the far right is taking in religion, in this strain pressing for a masculine spirituality shaped by Greco-Roman Neopaganism. The phenomenon is largely growing online and appeals to the anxieties of young males, often gamers, although it can take political expressions. Proponents of Greco-Roman religion tend to see religion as a myth for affirming masculine energies and white and Nordic racial identity. The unofficial leader, known by the pseudonym “Brahmin,” sees Apolloism as succeeding the alt-right and other far right movements of the twentieth century, although he is closely associated with Richard Spencer, founder of the alt-right. Although Apolloism shares the same followers, they gravitate to different groups and leaders. Another influential figure for Apolloism is “B.A.P.” (“Bronze Age Pervert”), who has been admired and featured in more mainstream conservative circles, such as the Trumpian Claremont Institute. That may be because B.A.P. has not eschewed Christianity as has Brahmin, even saying that he is a “disciple of Muscular Christianity.” Brahmin and other alt-right and neo-Pagan proponents often castigate Christianity for its universalist and ethnic inclusiveness. Apolloism is more than a digital religion, as Brahmin physically gathers followers in a “Broderbund” or brotherhoods, where they practice Greco-Roman rituals, engage in initiations, and create masculine solidarity. Apolloism has a small but growing following, but it may have its most influence through its political ideas, such as hostility to immigrants and opposition to liberal democratic and interventionist policies. Although Brahmin and others have sought to join ranks with other Neopagans, these overtures have been rebuffed. (Source: Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Spring)


3) Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin, the chairman of the Central Spiritual Board of Muslims of Russia, has become a prominent spokesman and apologist for Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, using extremist rhetoric about the West and Ukraine similar to that found in some quarters of Russian Orthodoxy. On the occasion of the Eid al-Adha holiday, he prayed for the Muslim and non-Muslim soldiers involved in the “special military operation” in Ukraine, saying, “We are proud of our vast Motherland and worthy national leader, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.” The Mufti added that the Western nations are “minions of the Antichrist and the Dajjal” (the Islamic equivalent of the Antichrist) as proved by their “arrogance, extremism and terrorism.” He spoke of Ukrainians as carriers of the “brown plague,” Nazism, who should be stopped before they spread it to Russia. Tadzhuddin is part of a network of “state Muftis” loyal to Putin that share the rhetoric of extremist Orthodox leaders. Speaking of gay pride parades, Tadzhuddin said that, “representatives of sexual minorities can do whatever they want, only at home or somewhere in a secluded place in the dark. If they still go out into the street, then they should only be flogged. All normal people would do it…gay peoplehave no rights… To be gay is a crime against God. The Prophet Muhammad ordered the killing of homosexuals.” (Source: Bitter Winter, July 21)