The aim of this paper is to call to attention a body of recent literature on the perimeter of political studies and, in turn, to subject it to scrutiny according to the accepted procedure of at least one branch of political studies. To this end, what is identified as the return of political religion theory is considered from the perspective of contemporary theories of ideology. As the idea of political religion has principally resurfaced in historiographical discourse the initial part of the paper takes the form of a discussion piece. There are at least four contexts in which this return is evident (within fascism studies; within arguments concerning the intellectual history of Nazism; on the margins of contemporary political theory; and in a sociological debate over the meaning of civil religion). For reasons of space only the first of these is set out here. In the main body of the essay three distinct approaches to political religion are separated and evaluated. Thereafter, the intention is to work through the recent literature in order to pare down what is credible in it to a specific claim about the structure of political ideologies as systems of meaning. The substantive core of the idea that is left is thus considered from the point of view of a theory of ideology.