Conferences at and with the Department of Systematic Theology

20./21.3.2020 Conference Religions and Identities in Europe: Areas of tension and interactions

Interdisciplinary conference of the Universities of Fribourg and Salzburg

The Center for Intercultural Theology and the Study of Religions invites you to this symposium at the Faculty of Catholic Theology Salzburg in HS 104.

The religious and ideological map of Europe has changed profoundly since the end of the Second World War. After a period marked by secularization processes in many Western countries and the suppression of religion in many communist countries of Eastern Europe, the upheavals of 1989 did not bring the return of traditional religion that some had hoped for, but rather religious pluralization and a strengthening of identitarian (religious) politics: migration led to a significant increase in the number of Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Pentecostal Christians. triggered uncertainty in several parts of Europe, which led to an increased acceptance of a policy of exclusion and exclusion. As Samuel Huntington diagnosed in his Clash of Civilizations (1996), many people in Europe were increasingly oriented towards ethnic, cultural and religious identities and – as a result – demarcation. In some European countries, for example, the paradoxical situation arose that right-wing parties, which had traditionally been opposed to the Christian churches, presented themselves as “saviours of the Christian West” and warned against the influence of Islam. At the same time, more and more young people who came from a completely secular or religiously indifferent environment turned to a form of political Islam sympathetic to political extremism. In Christianity, free church, charismatic forms and missionary manifestos are in vogue. And secularizing and religiously productive tendencies continue to develop simultaneously, as Jürgen Habermas emphasized in the context of his theory of post-secularity.This situation in many European countries, which is not easy to understand, raises questions that require an interdisciplinary discussion:

  • How are the current developments in religious policy to be assessed from a theological and religious-sociological point of view? What is the political and social influence of Islam, the new Pentecostal currents from Latin America and (West) Africa, the Orthodox churches or Buddhist groups?
  • What does the simultaneity of secularization and revitalization of religion mean for traditional religious communities as well as for new religious movements
  • In this context, what is the significance of Free Church or Pentecostal Christianity with its understanding of mission?
  • Can problematic phenomena such as the new anti-Semitism or racist Islamophobia be explained purely politically or economically, or is there really a potential for violence in religious plurality?
  • What is the role of the Christian churches in this situation?
  • What challenge does the current religious-political situation in Europe pose for the study of theology and religious studies?

These and other questions that deal with the current upheavals of religions and identities in Europe are the subject of an interdisciplinary conference that will be held on 20/21 March 2020 at the University of Salzburg as part of the partnership with the University of Fribourg.