Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Forschungsbereich Religion und Politik

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Forschungsbereich Religion und Politik - Lehrstuhl für Praktische Theologie und Religionspädagogik



Program on Religion and Politics


Forschungsbereich Religion und Politik (FRP)
Program on Religion, Politics and Economics

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Information on the Program on Religion and Politics

In the summer term of 2005, the Humboldt-University established a “Program on Religion and Politics” as an interdisciplinary research program. Representatives from the fields of politics, law, religious-, social- and educational sciences and theology work together here.

The relationship between religion and politics is characterized by significant transformational processes. Seemingly stable relationships between church and state have become increasingly unstable in the process of globalisation and pluralisation. Traditional formulas such as the “separation between church and state” or “secularisation” are no longer able to capture conceptually the abundance of relationships between politics and religion under late modern circumstances.


A scientific exploration of the relationship between religion and politics is necessary, which would

  • Re-establish a recognition of the independent meaning and impact of religion in the political field,
  • Overcome the constriction of the church-state-paradigm,
  • Analyse the multitude of social interdependencies under interdisciplinary questions and outlooks,
  • Explore the impact of political options in the face of religious processes of pluralisation.

The Program is significantly sponsored by the Haniel Foundation ( ), and works closely together with it on the Program on Religion, Politics and Economics :

First Pillar: “Berliner Reden zur Religionspolitik” ( Berlin Lectures on Religion and Politics). The organisation of a continuing series of lectures on religion and politics/economics in the by now traditional format of the “Berliner Reden zur Religionspolitik”, to be established at Humboldt University, Berlin in association with the Haniel Stiftung (Haniel Foundation), is intended to make the program known to a wider public. The ideas and concerns of the program are thus extended beyond the university and the academic sphere.

The “Berliner Reden zur Religionspolitik”, sponsored by the Haniel Foundation, have already received a broad and positive response, regionally and nationwide. The first lecture was delivered by the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, and broadcast by the television channel Phoenix . The second lecture was given by historian Prof Paul Nolte and published in the weekly Rheinischer Merkur. The third lecture took the form of a disputation between Professors Bernhard Schlink and Herfried Münkler, with close to 400 people attending. Prof José Casanova’s lecture in New York was printed in abridged form in the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. In the autumn of 2006, the Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, delivered a lecture on religion and law which elicited a nationwide response. For 2007, Prof Di Fabio, judge at the Federal Constitutional Court , has accepted the invitation to give a lecture.

The program plans to place an emphasis on the relationship between religion and economics in the next “Berliner Reden”. This should prove to be of interest to the Haniel Foundation, as it plans to carry on the newly established Haniel Circle , with similar contributors at university level in the capital city.


Second Pillar: Haniel Summer School on Religion, Politics and Economics. Secondly, an English-language Haniel Summer School on Religion, Politics and Economics is intended to bring together gifted students and internationally renowned academic teachers and practicians annually within the heart of the capital city in order to gain a sound and therefore better understanding of the complex relationships between religion, the political system and the economy. This allows the acquisition of interreligious and intercultural competences and expertise as well as the integration of these into day-to-day political and economic life. A further goal of the summer-school is to further the contact between graduate students, who often work in isolation but would profit from the knowledge of other research traditions. The Haniel Summer School is intended to take place annually in Berlin , beginning in the summer of 2008.


Third Pillar: Promotion of Excellence through scholarships, conferences and publications. The program seeks to promote doctoral candidates and students within the Program on Religion and Politics at the Humboldt-University of Berlin . The goal is to publicly distinguish the Program on Religion, Politics and Economics in the German capital and beyond by identifying talents and establishing and expanding international networks.


Pillars 1-3 : While the format of the “Berliner Reden” (first pillar) is intended to address a broad public and the media, the Haniel Summer School (second pillar) and the Promotion of Excellence (third pillar), within the framework of the Program on Religion, Politics and Economics, aim to promote and connect students and established academics.


In the coming years, the FRP will concentrate on the following main areas of research:

  • Religion, Politics and Education through the following research projects:
  1. Religious Education in Europe
  • Religious and political parameters and religious upbringing in Europe
  • Religious upbringing in France under conditions of the laïcité
  • Religiously oriented school subjects in Russia

2. Religious Education in South-East-Asia

  • Religious education as a national project. The example of South-East-Asia

3. The Significance of Religious Education in Islam

  • Conditions for the establishment of Islamic Theological Faculties at German universities
  • Islamic instruction in the Upper-Rhine region

4. Secularisation, Post-secularisation and Religious Education

  • Teaching of values in school
  • The educational system and the theory of the dispensability of religion
  • Concepts of religious education in the GDR
  • Didactics of Holy Scriptures in postmodernity and the secular society
  • The future of the school subject Lebensgestaltung–Ethik–Religionskunde (Life Issues–Ethics–Religious Studies) (LER)
  • Religious dimensions of modern politics; through the following research projects:

1. Research on Fundamentalism

  • Fundamentalism as an elite project
  • Protestant fundamentalism in the USA

2. Religion, State and Nation

  • Statehood and secularization
  • Sacrification and victimization – a political theology of the 21 st century?
  • Protection and obedience in the constitutional state
  • Religion and identity

3. Transatlantic Paradoxes in Religion and Politics

  • The influence of religion on politics – Germany , the European Union, the USA

4. Missionary Work and Migration

  • Religious aspects of migration
  • Strategies of expansion in different religions

Structural goals of the FRP for research networking in the coming years:

  • Development of an international and interdisciplinary network on religious and political research,
  • Promotion of young researchers through the advertisement and supervision of areas of research in religion and politics,
  • Realization of national and international symposia,
  • Co-operation with public educational-institutes,
  • Organisation of the “Berliner Reden zur Religionspolitik”
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