Promises of Salvation in a Secular Framework: Religious and Anti-Religious Doctrines between Conflict and Cooperation, 1870–1930
An essential characteristic of modern states is to moderate between religious meaning and secular order by establishing a realm of politics separated from religion. While legal and political frameworks tend to claim universal validity, historical examples tell a different story of well documented preferences of secular states regarding the faith and worldview of their citizens. Therefore, religious and secular actors alike always tended to compete for meaning in the public space. The topic of this section are religious, quasi-religious and (radically) secular attempts to fulfill the secular political order with meaning during the late 19th and early 20th century in Europe. We will look at four distinct case studies from Central and Eastern Europe with special regard to the position of religious minorities and secularist actors, whose attitudes toward the political order often formed an indicator of the shifting boundaries between religion and politics. Carolin Kosuch will examine the conflicts of Italian secular movements, but also their common relationship to the new Italian state, which was both liberal and established Catholicism as the state religion. Friedrich Wilhelm Graf in turn asks how the modern political order could become the object of theological justifications in German Protestantism at the turn of the century. Martin Schulze Wessel compares the two “new” schismatic churches of Czechoslovakia and Soviet Russia in the 1920s in terms of their success as interpreters of the secular. Finally, Johannes Gleixner addresses the difficulty of the Soviet godless movement to distance itself from religious actors without renouncing secular sources of meaning.