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Jun 15, 2017

Conference on Religion and Socialism in the Long 1960s: Encounters and Legacies in Eastern and Western Europe

Conference at the University of Groningen, June 15-17, 2017.


Conveners: Todd Weir, University of Groningen, Heléna Tóth, Bamberg University


This is the second meeting of the international research network “Religion and Socialism in the 20th Century”, which is coordinated by Prof. Todd Weir at the University of Groningen. This symposium examines the complex interactions of churches and socialist movements and states in the context of the Cold War and Détente. It will explore the parallel development of “scientific atheism” in the Eastern Bloc and forms of religious-socialist syncretism in the West, such as occurred in Italian “Catho-Communism,” liberation theology, or New Social Movements.


The 1960s were a unique historical moment of convergence, when across Europe opposing worldviews were seeking dialogue. While the 1950s were characterized by violent conflicts between Church and State behind the Iron Curtain (closing of monasteries, large-scale arrests of priests, persecution of small churches), in the following decade both sides of the ideological divide were more open for conversation and these conversations took place both in Eastern and Western Europe. At roughly the same time, the Second Vatican Council radically revised existing liturgical practice, the socialist states sought to penetrate everyday life by introducing socialist rites of passage, and fora such as the Paulus Society brought together Marxist thinkers and theologians to discuss responses to the challenges of modern industrial society.


This conference has been made possible by the support of The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen and the KNAW.


For more information, including the full programme, please visit the conference website or contact Tood Weir (