Claiming the Nation: Theological Nationalism in the Philippines

Document Type


Publication Date



This chapter introduces the concept of 'theological nationalism', which refers to discursive claims made by religious groups about the Christian identity of the Philippines. They do so using theologically inspired justifications, which invoke religious resources (like Scriptures and spiritual encounters) to argue for the divine destiny of the country as the only Christian nation in Asia. To this end, I will highlight discourses emanating not just from the Catholic Church but also other religious groups. Jose Mario Francisco has written important works analyzing official statements of the Catholic Church on the nation and nationalism. This chapter builds on his by also drawing on other emerging groups such as megachurches like Victory (Every Nation), evangelical churches like Jesus is Lord (JIL), and indigenous and Restorationist churches like Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC). Towards the end, the chapter reflects on the consequences of theological nationalism for social and political life in the country.