This article explains why elite classes participate in religiously motivated peasant rebellions. This question
is important because, although elite resources are required to overcome collective action barriers, extant
research ignores why elites collaborate in religiously motivated peasant rebellions. The article compares
the Moplah Rebellion in colonial India, the Cristero Rebellion in revolutionary Mexico, and the Chimurenga
Rebellion in white-controlled Zimbabwe to test three common explanations for elite participation: low
inequality between elites and peasants; moderate political repression or opportunity; and shared religious
organizations with the peasantry. The findings demonstrate that elite cooperation is critically contingent
on shared religion because it creates cross-class ideologies and lowers the costs of participation by elites.
However, the effects of inequality of wealth and political opportunities are inconclusive. By doing so, the
article introduces a theory of elite participation that can be tested and refined to understand ongoing
religiously motivated rebellions in agrarian societies as disparate as Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Philippines.