Sub-Project 1: Public Religions and Public Theology

Prof. Dr. Edmund Arens

On the basis of J. Casanova’s religio-sociological concept of "public religions" this sub-project will investigate whether such a concept of religion, which locates religion in civil society will be sustainable with regard to religious analysis, fruitful with regard to religious theory and acceptable for systematic theology in view of social integration. The main focus of this research will be to investigate whether this concept, developed on the basis of Christianity can be applied to other religions as well and whether the confinement to a national frame will do justice to so called "transnational religions" (Casanova). Will the normative understanding of public discourse, which constitutes the basis of this concept be sustainable with regard to social theory and will it be able to assume validity in multi-religious contexts?

From a systematic theological viewpoint it is of particular interest on the one hand how the concept of public theology is adaptable to "public religions". On the other hand it is a matter of vital interest whether these public religions can be connected to the recently reactivated discussion about political theologies, dealing explicitly with aspects of inclusion and exclusion. Moreover, research will be done on how the international debate about "public theology" relates itself to the thesis about the integrative role and relevance religions have in society.