Building: (Building A) Faculty of Law, Administration & Economics Floor: 2nd floor Room: 215
For a long time in comparative politics, churches (unlike interest groups or NGOs) have not been among the “usual suspects” in the actor-centered study of political processes, its outputs and outcomes. But the “return of religion”, regardless whether as discourse or as social reality, has put them into focus (again). Based on the premise that religion has become an important political resource even in secularizing societies (see Berger, Casanova, Euchner and others), this actor-oriented panel wants to take a closer look at the role (Christian) churches play in political processes in a contemporary democratic context. Particular attention will be given to the ambiguous facets of churches as political actors, the political behavior and strategies of which are likely to vary depending on circumstances like issue, location, society, historical background or point of time. This shall be addressed at the levels of polity, politics, and policy.
On a systemic or polity level, the panel wants to scrutinize the widespread assumption that Christian churches today are a pillar of the democratic order. Cases like “church asylum” in various countries show that in the name of a higher value, churches are willing to break the law: does this strengthen or weaken the respective democratic order? Under what circumstances do churches become a challenge to democracy, under which do they act as its lynchpin, if at all? On the politics level, one may ask what constitutes the political agenda of different churches, how do they organize and mobilize to pursue their goals in the political process, and how do they interact with political parties and other actors? Are there ambivalences in their role as a political actor and, can we see patterns across different cases? And on the policy level, questions arise such as: When and how do churches shape policy outcomes? What accounts for their success or failure, and how can we measure this? Furthermore, how do their policy effects affect their standing as a political and societal actor in a democratic context?