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Religious Studies: Research Projects

Nonreligiosität in Eastern Germany


The research project Nonreligiousness in Eastern Germany examines to what extent lifestyles, norms and ideologies in Eastern Germany constitute reactions to the secularization enforced by the former communist regime. Considering the current Ostalgie – represented in products and attitudes – it seems obvious that attitudinal aspects of the GDR are still present in Eastern Germany in forms of a voluntary secularism, albeit bereft of the former ideological underpinnings. This is evidenced with the lasting popularity of the Jugendweihe (youth dedication ceremony), but also with the adaptation of churchly wedding rites at civil marriage ceremonies and some positions of radical left-wing parties.

  • Panel „Remote effects of secularization in Eastern Germany”, XXI. World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, 23th-29th August 2015, University of Erfurt (Jenny Vorpahl, Dirk Schuster, Prof. Dr. Johann Ev. Hafner, Dr. Hans-Michael Haußig)
  • Panel: „Theoretical and empirical approaches to the relationship between religion and nonreligion in Germany”, ISORECEA Conference 2016: “Religion and Non-Religion in Contemorary Societies”, Zadar, Croatia, 21th–24th April 2016 (conduct: Jenny Vorpahl and David Schneider)
  • Jenny Vorpahl: The ritual design of civil marriage ceremonies in Germany. Lecture in the panel „Not religion, but not without religion. Representations of nonreligious ideas, forms and practices“, Conference of the European Association of the Study of Religions: „Relocating Religion“, Helsinki, Finnland, June 28th – July 1th 2016.
  • Dirk Schuster: The evaluation of the science of atheism in the GDR by policy makers. Lecture in the panel „Nonreligion and Atheism in Central and Eastern Europe“, Conference of the European Association of the Study of Religions: Relocating Religion, Helsinki, Finnland, June 28th – July 1th 2016.
  • Habilitation project: What Comes After Religion? Atheistic concepts of the dying out of Religion. (Dirk Schuster, 2015-2020)
  • Religiosity in Potsdam/Brandenburg: In the city of Potsdam there are about 80 religious communities. Confronted with their secularized environment, most went into “hibernation mode’. Where are they to be found? How interconnected are they? What role does the turnaround of 1989/90 play in the history of their communities? When do Yoga studios and freethinking groups become part of the religious scene? We envision and are planing a book with articles and portraits encompassing statements of faith, rites, locality and structures (Prof. Dr. Irene Becci, Lausanne, Prof. Johann Hafner 2012-2016).
Source: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig

Practice and Reflection on Prayer

of Baptists, Christian Catholics, Protestants, Catholics, Methodists and in Religious Studies

See also: Johann Hafner/Julia Enxing/Andre Munzinger (Eds.): Gebetslogik. Reflexionen aus interkonfessioneller Perspektive (Logic of Prayer. Reflections from an Interdenominational Perspective), Leipzig 2015, ca. 200 pages.

Source: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig

Lower Transcendencies: Angels and Intermediary Beings

Even in so-called monotheistic religions, beings who are neither human nor divine (angels, demons, aeons, spirits) are persistently thought of below the high deity. They enjoyed wide popularity, especially as they meet the need for healing, information and speculation. Using system-theoretical considerations, the "necessité de l'angélologie" (H. Corbin) and the differentiation of various transcendencies will be reconstructed. Currently, a volume is emerging on the origins of biblical mediators and their ramifications in apocryphal, Gnostic and other 'heterodox' traditions.

See also:

  • Hafner, Johann Ev.: Religionswissenschaftliche Kategoriebildung - am Beispiel 'Engel'. In: Stausberg, Michael (Ed.): Religionswissenschaft. Berlin 2012, pp. 155-168.
  • Hafner, Johann Ev.: Wozu dienen Engel? Zur Funktion niedriger Transzendenzen. In: Jung, Hermann (Ed.): Symbolon, Jahrbuch Band 18, Frankfurt/M. 2012, pp. 159-183.
  • Hafner, Johann Ev.: Die Engel im Christentum. In: Franzl, Klaus Peter/Hahn, Sylvia/Haßlberger, Bernhard (Eds.): Engel. Mittler zwischen Himmel und Erde. Freising 2010, pp. 40-59.
  • Hafner, Johann Ev./Diemling, Patrick (Ed.): Die Kommunikation Satans. Einflüsterungen, Briefe, Gespräche des Bösen. Frankfurt a.M. 2010.
  • Hafner, Johann Ev.: Angelologie. Paderborn 2009.
  • Hafner, Johann Ev.: Engelssprachen – einfache Doppelkontingenz. Ein Beitrag zur Kommunikationstheorie. In: Ebertz, Michael N./Faber, Richard (Eds.): Engel unter uns. Soziologische und theologische Miniaturen. Würzburg 2008, pp. 91-99.


PhD Projects

  • Imago Dei versus Kultbild. Die Sapientia Salomonis als jüdisch-hellenistischer Beitrag zur antiken Bilderdebatte (Helga Völkening 2008-2016)
  • Die Rolle von Trauansprachen und Ratgeberliteratur in der Ritualisierung standesamtlicher Eheschließungszeremonien in Deutschland (Jenny Vorpahl 2012-2018)
  • Stichwörter der Wortfamilie ,Jude‘ in einsprachigen deutschen Wörterbüchern des 19. Jahrhunderts (Daniela Schmidt, 2014-2017)
  • Religiöse Reaktionen auf das Erdbeben in Haiti 2010. Feldstudie unter Voodoo-Hougans, katholischen Priestern und baptistischen Pastoren (Stefanie Fischer 2014-2017)
  • An Appraisal of Schopenhauer's Doctrine of Salvation in Light of his Critique of Religion and Philosophical Teachings (Anil Batti 2013-2016)
  • Die Verwendung des Engel-Motivs bei postreformatorischen Predigern: John Wesley, Charles H. Spurgeon, Ellen G. White, Billy Graham (Benjamin Klammt 2013-2017)
  • Pietá-Darstellungen in der Gegenwartskunst. Befragung von ca. 20 Künstlern zum Wandel eines Traditionsmotivs (Christine Keruth 2015-2018)