With the choice of this topic we wish to highlight the powerful effect religion has on public and personal life and that this effect relates to all fields of life such as fashion, politics, art, leisure, art, ethics and science. The relation between power and religion tends to be seen merely negatively, yet history and the present demonstrate also how religion can positively have a powerful effect on individuals and societies.

Herman Selderhuis, President of the European Academy of Religion

Theologische Universiteit Apeldoorn

Politicization of Religion: Eastern Christian Cases

Cyril Hovorun (Loyola Marymount University, Huffington Ecumenical Institute)


Since the famous controversy between Carl Schmitt and Erik Peterson in the 1930s, political theology has been focused on the church-state relations and how they contribute to the politicization of religion. Peterson used the Arian controversy in the fourth century as a metaphor to express his concerns about the rise of Nazi ideology in his time. He was right in drawing parallels between Schmitt’s “Political theology” and the times of Eusebius, who can be regarded the true father of this discipline, which is usually seen as western and modern. Indeed, the Eastern Church in the period of Late Antiquity produced a significant number of “political theologies,” which constituted the reverse faces of the coins, which we usually recognize by their obverse faces: Arianism, Monothelitism, Iconoclasm, etc. Such intrinsic elements of Eastern Christianity as hierarchical structures, coercion, and symphony can also be identified as forms of politicization of religion. They continue living in the modern local Orthodox churches, which often perceive them as parts of the holy tradition. During the twentieth century, the Orthodox churches often justified by this tradition their collaboration with totalitarian regimes of all ideological persuasions: Communist, Fascist, and Nazi. Still, when there is an opportunity, some Orthodox churches are ready to embark on old and new forms of politicized religion.

Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun is an Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute.

A graduate of the Theological Academy in Kyiv and National University in Athens, he accomplished his doctoral studies at Durham University. He was a Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, First Deputy Chairman of the Educational Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church, and later a Research Fellow at Yale and Columbia Universities.
Among the books that he has published are Political Orthodoxies: The Unorthodoxies of the Church Coerced (Minneapolis, Fortress, 2018); Scaffolds of the Church: Towards Poststructural Ecclesiology (Eugene, OR, Cascade, 2017); Meta-Ecclesiology, Chronicles on Church Awareness (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Will, Action and Freedom. Christological Controversies in the Seventh Century (Leiden - Boston, Brill, 2008).

Hallowed be thy Name: Power and Glory in Religious Imagination

Scott Appleby (Notre Dame University)


While scholars have interrogated the claim that wars are lent a special urgency, intensity, endurance and viciousness when religion is invoked as a legitimating motivation for the combatants, it is not clear why and how religion might exercise this sacralizing, deepening and multiplying effect, not only in cases of violent conflict but also at crucial moments in the evolution of community life and national consciousness. A largely overlooked dimension of this pattern of sanctification and deepening is the importance of “giving glory to God.” How is this obligation understood by religious actors? How is the wielding of power central to the fulfillment of this obligation? In this context, what is the lived meaning of ‘power,’ and of ‘glory’?

Illustrated by examples from case studies of religious actors seeking to transform individuals, institutions and social norms, the lecture explores the connection, in the religious imagination, between glorifying the divine, sanctifying the mundane, and exercising political and cultural power.

Scott Appleby (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1985) is the Marilyn Keough Dean of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs.
A professor of history at Notre Dame, he is a scholar of global religion who has been a member of Notre Dame’s faculty since 1994. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1978 and received masters and Ph.D. degrees in history from the University of Chicago. From 2000-2014, he served as the Regan Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Appleby co-directs, with Ebrahim Moosa and Atalia Omer, Contending Modernities, a major multi-year project to examine the interaction among Catholic, Muslim, and secular forces in the modern world.
Appleby is the author or editor of 15 books, including the widely cited volumes of The Fundamentalism Project (co-edited with Martin E. Marty and published by the University of Chicago Press); and The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation. Most recently, Appleby co-edited (with Atalia Omer) The Oxford Handbook on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding. He also serves as lead editor of the Oxford University Press series “Studies in Strategic Peacebuilding.” Other Appleby titles include Catholics in the American Century (Cornell University Press, 2012); Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics and Praxis (Orbis, 2010) and Church and Age Unite! The Modernist Impulse in American Catholicism (Notre Dame 1992).
A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Appleby is the recipient of four honorary doctorates, from Fordham University, Scranton University, St. John’s University (Collegeville, Minnesota), and Saint Xavier University, Chicago.

Europe’s new religious conflicts: Russian Orthodoxy, American Christian Conservatives, and the emergence of a European Populist Christian Right

Kristina Stoeckl (Universität Innsbruck)


For the last thirty years, the American Christian Right has been exporting the model of the American culture wars to other parts of the world, but only fairly recently has it found a new powerful ally in this cause: Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church’s contacts with Christian Right groups in Europe and in the US have helped to strengthen ties between the Kremlin and European populist right parties. Sexuality and gender are the most prominent themes in this moral conservative norm mobilization. Christian conservatives in the United States, Europe and in Russia mobilize against same-sex marriage, against LGBTQ-rights and against “gender-theory” in general. As Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox actors from different countries form transnational and interdenominational coalitions against liberal values, they reshape the presence of religion in national political and public debates and challenge not only established religion-state relations in specific domestic contexts, but also the leadership of their churches. In the same vein, European populist right parties have adopted a Christian rhetoric against Islam and use the populist argument of “us” vs. “the elites” to challenge the very authority of church teaching. This gives rise to a new type of religious conflict in Europe, no longer between the different confessions and no longer between the religious and secular, but over the very meaning of Christianity in Europe.

Kristina Stoeckl is a Professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Innsbruck and principal investigator of the European Research Council funded project “Postsecular Conflicts” (2016-2021).

She holds a PhD from the European University Institute (Florence) and in the past has held research and teaching positions at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the University of Vienna, the Central European University, the Robert Schumann Center for Advanced Studies, and the Institute for Human Sciences IWM (Vienna).

Her research areas are sociology of religion and social and political theory, with a focus on Orthodox Christianity, religion-state relations in Russia and problems of political liberalism and religion.

After her monograph The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights (2014), she is currently working on a book about the role of Russia in the global culture wars.

Islam, politics and society in Germany

Susanne Schröter (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main)


The history of Islam in Germany was characterized by ambivalences and, to a certain extent, by literary enthusiasm, which, for example, lead to the recurring story that Goethe became a Muslim at the end of his life. In the present, questions of the relationship between secularism and religion, the influence of foreign governments on Islamic organisations and normative conflicts of the immigration society are at the center of the debate. Politicians have implemented a number of instruments (the establishment of Islamic theologies at state universities, Islamic religious instruction at state schools, creation of a permanent German Islam conference etc.) to promote a process of recognition within the population, however, the majority of Germans believe that Islam does not belong to Germany. The lecture analyses problems in current German Islam policy and shows possible solutions.

Prof. Dr. Susanne Schröter is Professor for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Goethe University Frankfurt and Director of the Frankfurt Research Center on Global Islam.

She previously taught at Yale University, the Universities of Mainz and Trier and held the Chair of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Passau. She regularly advises political institutions and civil society organisations on questions of extremism prevention, integration and the politics of Islam. At Frankfurt Susanne Schröter leads a long-term project on the transformation of normative orders in the Islamic world. 
Her publications include: Christianity in Indonesia. Perspectives of power, Berlin 2010; Gender and Islam in Southeast Asia. Women’s rights movements, religious resurgence and local traditions, Leiden 2013; and Islamic feminism. National and transnational dimensions, in: Cesari, Jocelyne/José Casanova eds., Islam, gender and democracy, Oxford 2017, pp.115-138.
In German language recently appeared her books: Gott näher als der eigenen Halsschlagader. Fromme Muslime in Deutschland (God closer than your own carotid artery. Pious Muslims in Germany, Frankfurt 2016; Normenkonflikte in pluralistischen Gesellschaften (Norm conflicts in pluralistic societies), Frankfurt 2017; and Politischer Islam. Stresstest für Deutschland (Political Islam. Stress test for Germany), Gütersloh 2019.


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