The idea of the conference
The aim of the conference is to reflect on the changes that are currently taking place in the relationship between religion and politics. These changes, as it seems, are not only of cosmetic nature, but concern the very paradigm of these relations shaped in Western culture in the modern era. The source of these changes seems to lie in the political sphere, which not only undergoes progressive secularization, but also breaks with European metaphysics. However, in a peculiar feedback loop they also affect the self-consciousness of Western religious communities, including the Catholic Church. The redefinition in the political sphere of such categories as truth, dignity of the person, human rights, marriage, and family is accompanied by a disruption of their meaning also in the doctrines of Christian communities. Basic ethical principles often give way to pragmatic reasons (e.g., in the dispute about abortion, euthanasia, surrogacy, sexual orientation), not only in politics, but also in church practice. It seems that the change is so significant that the use of the term “epochal change” proposed by Pope Francis seems justified.
During our conference, we would like to trace this process, paying particular attention to four of its dimensions. The first concerns the presence and role of religion in international organizations at the universal and European level. Are the activities of representatives of religious communities in these organizations changing and in what way? What impact do these organizations have on the life of religious communities? Second, the current state of European integration, once initiated by Christian politicians. Is it reasonable to claim that we are dealing with an anti-Christian turn? If so, to what extent do Christian institutions (Christian Democrats, religious communities) participate in this process? Would Robert Schuman, a candidate for the altars, be considered a religious extremist today? The third concerns the changes occurring in the relationship between religion and identity (national, European). Do the reorganization of the political sphere mean that states can manage without the “help” of religion, or do they replace it with a secular surrogate in the form of ideology? Or maybe contemporary politics does not need communities at all, limiting itself to managing the atomized human mass? The fourth, refers to the treatment of religious freedom during the pandemic. Is religious freedom a special category among human rights, and therefore in principle should not be restricted even in the case of emergencies, or is it simply one of many rights whose scope is determined by the state? Must it therefore give way not only to public health, but also to other goods deemed more important by the authorities? In many countries, religious goods are not included in the category of so-called essential goods.
Is it possible, then, to arrange the relationship between religion and politics along new lines that respect the identity of each and its specific contribution to the common good, or will we witness a new conflict, as in the French Revolution or under communism? Or will the line of conflict not be between the state and religious communities, but across political and religious communities?
We invite you to submit papers for the conference. They may be devoted to the above issues, as well as to other dimensions of the problem of potential paradigm shift that interests us this year (such as the resurgence of so-called secular religions; the situation of non-Western religious traditions, especially Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, in the context of “epochal change,” etc.). We also invite presentations of current research in the political science of religion. As is tradition at our conferences, parallel panels on current research on religion and politics will be held alongside the main sessions – see Registration.