SoSe 14: Religion and Politics in the European Union
While research has initially focused on studying the relationship between religion and politics in (European) nation?states, there is an increasing literature analyzing the role of religion in ... read more
While research has initially focused on studying the relationship between religion and politics in (European) nation?states, there is an increasing literature analyzing the role of religion in European Union (EU) politics. In fact, while the EU is considered to be a secular body, Art. 17 of the Lisbon Treaty has institutionalized a regular dialogue with churches and religious communities. Christian Democrats form the largest party group in the European Parliament, and one of its Vice?Presidents has been assigned the responsibility of ensuring relations with churches and religions. The role of religion in EU politics has also been highlighted by debates such as the accession of Turkey, the reference to a Christian heritage in the preamble to the Constitutional Treaty, or the alleged provisions on abortion discussed in the first Irish Referendum of the Lisbon Treaty.
This course aims at reviewing and analyzing the role of religion in EU politics by bringing together papers covering two different perspectives. The bottom?up perspective, on the one hand, includes issues pertaining to how religious beliefs, actors and communities influence and shape public opinion, elections and policy?making in the EU. Does religion matter in public opinion and the level of support for European integration? To which extent do religious beliefs shape voting behavior? How do religious actors influence EU politics? Do religious groups emerge as transnational actors and act as an integrative force in the EU? The top?down perspective, on the other hand, covers aspects relating to the effect of EU integration on religious beliefs, actors and institutions in the member states and in the EU's external relations. How does (the preparation to) EU membership alter the power of religious institutions at the national level? To which extent can we observe a secularizing effect of (the preparation to) EU membership? Can we identify specific patterns of interaction between the EU and religious actors in third countries, especially those with limited statehood and/or religious conflicts? To which extent does the EU act as a secular power?