Research Centre "Religion and Transformation"
Link to the web version
Edition XXV / March 2022


Dear members and friends of RaT,


As every year, the cold of winter gradually melts away and spring brings a new beginning. New beginnings aren't necesserily easy, but they always bear the chance of change.

With this first newsletter of the summer term, we would like to inform you about recent publications, current research projects and upcoming events by RaT members. 


Our latest JRAT issue "Religion and Disease", edited by Rüdiger Lohlker, was published in December, as you will come to read in this newsletter. Furthermore, we are happy to take this opportunity and present to you our first issue of the JRAT Supplementa series, "The Praise of Mortality", edited by Kurt Appel, as well as Volume 20 of our print book series, "Eindeutig mehrdeutig. Ambiguitäten im Spannungsfeld von Gesellschaft, Wissenschaft und Religion", edited by Marlene Deibl and Katharina Mairinger.

Last but not least, we would like to invite you to read our most recent blog entries where we discuss societal issues and present topics that currently influence the work of our members: learn about Ankara's potential options for action in the shadow of the Ukraine conflict as well as about the commentary on the Letter to the Romans by Karl Barth who is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. 


We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and wish you a good start into the new term! 

Lisa Achathaler, Kurt Appel, Hannah Bleckenwegner, Jakob Deibl, Martin Eleven, Daniel Kuran, Marian Weingartshofer. 


Please consider forwarding our newsletter to those interested in the topics we work on!



Latest issue:


JRAT 7 (2/2021) "Religion and Disease", edited by Rüdiger Lohlker


The contributions of this issue show an understanding of disease(s) and religion in a multifaceted way. Covering traditions of Christianity, Islam, Taoism, indigenous Indonesian people, fundamentalism, and secularism discourses allow for an approach to liminal situations related to diseases and healing and resilience towards the challenges these situations mean. Philosophical reflections, empirical research, theological discussions, studying ideas on sciences, and theoretical reflections on practical dimensions of resilience contribute to a stimulating mosaic of ideas.

Link to the publication (full access).

For further information on JRAT, you can find our page on facts and figures here.

JRAT Supplementa

Volume 1 "In Praise of Mortality",

edited by Kurt Appel


This volume shows that the vulnerability and mortality of life are the starting points of its transcendence which exceeds all representability.
Only by renouncing fantasies of omnipotence of a theological, philosophical and scientific nature, human beings can advance to their destiny and introduce a New Humanism enabling a bond between all that is alive and between human beings and their transcendent dimension. This includes an understanding of time that no longer follows chronological-mechanistic constraints, a non-instrumental understanding of language that finds its dimension of depth in prayer and an understanding of God in which God is inseparably related to the openness of human existence. In traversing the arising avenues of thought, the four-part volume, written by three authors but to be read as a unity, is oriented towards a philosophy of central biblical passages, Hegel‘s The Phenomenology of Spirit, Musil‘s Man Without Qualities, Hölderlin‘s poetry and Lacan´s psychoanalysis.

Link to the publication (full access).

RaT Book Series

Volume 20 "Eindeutig mehrdeutig. Ambiguitäten im Spannungsfeld von Gesellschaft, Wissenschaft und Religion", edited by Marlene Deibl and Katharina Mairinger

From an interdisciplinary perspective, this anthology is dedicated to both the phenomenon and the concept of ambiguity in the ambiguous field between society, science and religion. It attempts to stimulate the study of ambiguity and tolerance of ambiguity as a characteristic and challenge for social differentiation processes. Expertise from psychology, philosophy, sociology, linguistics and the historical sciences serves to make the concept of ambiguity attractive and fruitful for the systematic and ethical subjects of theology and simultaneously shows its broader relevance for social frameworks. It becomes clear that society, science and religion can best do justice to the complexity of life when they resist the lure of unambiguous answers. Thus, the authors of this volume agree that the answers to the question of a successful social coexistence are definitely ambiguous.

Link to the publication.

PUBLICATIONS: Monographs & Anthologies

Cesari, Jocelyne: We God's People: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism in the World of Nations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2021.


Cesari argues that both religious and national communities are defined by the three Bs: belief, behaviour and belonging. By focusing on the ways in which these three Bs intersect, overlap or clash, she identifies the patterns of the politicization of religion, and vice versa, in any given context. Her approach has four advantages: firstly, it combines an exploration of institutional and ideational changes across time, which are usually separated by disciplinary boundaries. Secondly, it illustrates the heuristic value of combining qualitative and quantitative methods by statistically testing the validity of the patterns identified in the qualitative historical phase of the research. Thirdly, it avoids reducing religion to beliefs by investigating the significance of the institution-ideas connections, and fourthly, it broadens the political approach beyond state-religion relations to take into account actions and ideas conveyed in other arenas such as education, welfare, and culture.

Link to the publication.

Lehmann, Karsten / Reiss, Wolfram: Religiöse Vielfalt in Österreich. Nomos: Baden-Baden 2022.


This volume provides a compact, up-to-date and easily understandable insight into Austria's religious diversity. In the introduction, the underlying concept of religion is described, an outline of developments in the history of religion and legal history in dealing with religions is given, and the demographic developments of religions in Austria are shown. Then the entire religious landscape of Austria is examined from the perspective of religious studies. This also includes small groups, agnostic and atheist traditions. The focus is on internal diversity and the present. Finally, the interconnectedness of Austria's religions with different areas of society (education, art, media, politics, economy, law) is described by scholars of the respective disciplines.

Link to the publication.

Prenga, Eduard / Curi, Maria Benedetta (eds.): Klaus Hemmerle: Tesi per una ontologia trinitaria. Rom: Città Nuova 2022.


Maria Benedetta Curi and Eduard Prenga edited and translated into Italian the new publication of one of the founding texts of the New Ontology, namely the Thesis of a Trinitarian Ontology ("Thesen zu einer trinitarischen Ontologie") by the philosopher and theologian Klaus Hemmerle, published for the first time in 1976 by Johannes Verlag. This is the second volume of the Dizionario dinamico di Ontologia Trinitaria (DdOT/Dynamic Dictionary of Trinitarian Ontology). With the Critical Apparatus and an introduction that contextualizes the text by offering some hermeneutic keys, the volume is accompanied with three important essays by Piero Coda, Massimo Donà and Carmelo Meazza, in dialogue between philosophy and theology. The new translation considers above all the developments of the research conducted at University Intitute Sophia over the past decade.

Link to the publication.

PUBLICATIONS: Selected Articles

Fieder, Martin / Huber, Susanne: Fertility Outcomes, Heritability and Genomic Associations of In-Group Preference and In-Group Marriage, in: Twin Research and Human Genetics 24 (5/2021), pp. 264-272.


Using data from the Midlife Development in the USA (MIDUS) sample (3070 men and 3182 women) and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS; 2240 men and 2346 women), we aimed to investigate whether religious, ethnic and racial in-group preferences as well as religious homogamy are associated with reproductive outcome in terms of number of children. Using data from the MIDUS twin sample, we further estimated the inherited genetic component of in-group attitudes. Additionally, we analyzed the association of ∼50 polygenic scores (PGSs) recently published for the WLS study and in-group attitudes as an indicator of potential pleiotropic effects. We found in both samples that, with one exception, religious though not other in-group attitudes are associated with a higher reproductive outcome. Also, religious homogamy is associated with higher average number of children.

Link to the publication (full access).

Holzleithner, Elisabeth: Islamische Bedeckung in rechtlicher Perspektive. In: Handbuch Intersektionalität. Springer VS 2021.

A major strand of intersectionality theory and method stems from the critique of the failure of US anti-discrimination law to address the synergistic interaction of multiple grounds of discrimination. Based on this, it is shown how discrimination on the basis of wearing a headscarf is treated reductionistically in the law by focusing exclusively on religion, while gender and ethnic origin are left out. An appropriate analysis is attempted along the lines of the proposal to interpret categories normatively and to take them seriously in their intersectional enrichment.

Rothgangel, Martin / Riegel, Ulrich: Relgions-didaktische Forschung und ihre Formate. Die Befunde einer Delphi-Studie unter deutschsprachigen Religions-pädagog*innen. In: Religionspädagogische Beiträge 45 (1/2022), pp. 69-85.


After various preliminary works for the development of a model of research formats in the didactics of religion had been carried out in the past three years, the authors conducted a Delphi study in the German-speaking area, in which the religion-didactic community was questioned with regard to the three dimensions (methodology, subject areas, reference theories) of this model, the research goal as a bundling formatting factor and seven potential research formats. After an introduction to the understanding of research formats and the method of the Delphi study, this article presents and discusses the main results of this first round of the Delphi study.

Link to the publication (full access).

Rothgangel, Martin / Riegel, Ulrich: Reflecting theology by a generic model of research designs? Impulses from religious didactics. In: HTS Theological Studies 77 (2/2021).


This article addressed the question of how, in the face of increasingly specialised research studies, the unity of theology can be justified beyond abstract and sweeping determinations. The present contribution suggested that in this respect a model of research designs developed in religious didactics might prove useful. This model of research design could essentially be understood as consisting of three research dimensions (topics, reference theories and methodologies) that define a research space, in which the research study on the didactics of religion can be located in the three-dimensional space by the research goal as a formatting factor.

Link to the publication (full access).

Rothgangel, Martin / Riegel, Ulrich: Research Design in "religious didactics", in: British Journal of Religious Education (2021).


At present, there are relatively few international studies that reflect research in religious didactics from a metatheoretical perspective. Against this background, the fundamental question of this contribution is whether there are research designs that are typical for research in religious didactics (1.). For this purpose, research was conducted for a later Delphi study; its development (2.), results (3.), and open questions (4.) are presented below. The study does not only produce certain findings and problem indications with regard to research designs of religious didactics, but perhaps even in a general model for religious-didactic research. We regard the current status of this project as an interim result, which shall be examined in a subsequent round, taking into account the international context (5).

Link to the publication (full access).

Synek, Eva: Wie gelangt eine Kirche zu patriarchaler Würde? Einige Anmerkungen aus der serbischen Kirchengeschichte, in: Religionen unterwegs 27 (2021), pp. 18-24.

The Serbian Church celebrated the 800th anniversary of its autocephaly in 2019. In 2020, its leader died in the wake of the corona pandemic, and a new patriarch was elected in 2021. The articles provide interesting details on the formation of the Serbian Patriarchate.

Link to the publication.

Synek, Eva / Thomas M. Németh: Zur Kulturträgerschaft der orthodoxen und der griechisch-katholischen Kirche. In: A. Gottsmann (ed.): Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848-1918, Bd. 10: Das kulturelle Leben. Teilband X/1: Staat, Konfession und Identität. Wien: VÖAW 2021, pp. 527-568.


The coexistence of differences and commonalities shaped the Danube Monarchy for centuries, and this is particularly evident in cultural life. The intermingling of cultural codes and symbols can still be seen today in architecture, music and cuisine. At the same time, an increasing nationalisation pressure became noticeable around 1900, which manifested itself in the coexistence of cultural developments, in competition, but also in mutual ignorance and confrontation. In two volumes, 50 comprehensive contributions by Austrian and international authors explore the different aspects of this topic.

Link to the publication.

Synek, Eva: On gendering purity: Geschlechtsspezifische Vorstellungen und Vorschriften über rein und unrein. In: A. Siquans / M. Vinzent (eds.): Biblische Frauenfiguren in der Spätantike (Die Bibel und die Frauen. Patristische Zeit Bd. 5.2). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2022, pp. 210-241.


Bible texts and biblical figures play an important role in the writings of the Church Fathers. The great men are usually the focus of interest. Nevertheless, the biblical women, from Sara and Hagar to Mary, are not neglected. They are mothers, prophetesses, teachers and much more. They serve the male authors as examples and role models for the women of their time. The contributions in this volume show how biblical women were presented and interpreted in the socio-cultural context of late antiquity.

Link to the publication.


Martin Rothgangel: DACH Third-party funded project

"Models of religious education in comparison:

The topic of 'Islam' from the perspective of teachers and pupils"


The relationship between people with different religions and world views plays an important role in enabling peaceful coexistence in Europe. In this sense, tolerance and mutual respect are central challenges for religious education, so that pupils learn to deal responsibly with religious diversity. While it is not uncommon for critical enquiries to be made of Islamic religious education in this regard, it could well be that Protestant religious education, for example, does not have to face any less critical questions. What does Protestant religious education in particular, but also religious education classes, do to promote tolerance and respect when they deal with the topic of Islam? So far, there have been no scientific studies that have examined this issue. Rather, the focus has so far tended to be on Islamic religious education, or general questions regarding the different models of religious education have been examined, and it is being discussed whether traditional denominational religious education should be replaced by neutral religious education. Nevertheless, there is practically no empirical research on which model of religion-based education is better for promoting tolerance and mutual respect.

Accordingly, the overarching research question of the MORE project is how the topic of Islam is didactically designed in two different models of religious education (Protestant religious education; "Religious Studies"). For methodological reasons, the study is initially limited to the German-speaking area (D-A-CH), more precisely to Protestant religious education in Germany (Stuttgart) and Austria (Vienna) on the one hand, and to the newly introduced subject "Religions, Cultures, Ethics" in Switzerland (Zurich) on the other hand, as well as "Lebensgestaltung, Ethik, Religionskunde" in Germany (Berlin/Brandenburg).  Prof. Raters (Potsdam) and Prof. Schweitzer (Tübingen) are responsible for this study in Germany, Prof. Rothgangel (Vienna) for Austria and Prof. Schlag (Zurich) for Switzerland.

Link to the project.




Paul Tillich und die Tiefenpsychologie.

22 – 24 April 2022

Venue: Evangelische Akademie Hofgeismar,

directed by Christian Danz & Karl Waldeck

What role do psychoanalysis and depth psychology play for religion and theology? The conference is dedicated to this complex of topics under the guiding concepts of 'religion and psyche' in the work of the German-American theologian and philosopher of religion Paul Tillich (1886-1965). As early as the 1920s, he was concerned with psychoanalysis and its consequences for the understanding of man and religion. Tillich attributed central importance to depth psychology for a new development of the symbolic worlds of the Christian religion, which had become incomprehensible in modernity. The conference will explore Tillich's contribution to the contemporary study of religion and the psyche.

More information can be found here.



Explorations within Holistic Healing and Spirituality.

28 – 30 April 2022

Venue: Campus Aula, University of Vienna,

directed by Karl Baier, Marleen Thaler, Dominic Zoehrer

This three-day (in-person) conference aims to explore modern concepts revolving around the notion of subtle energy. Such notions are employed by the vast majority of protagonists of the contemporary holistic milieu. At the same time, ideas, practices, and experiences involving sublime life forces have circulated for millennia in various parts of the world. Traditions postulating the "flows" of these vital powers or substances through the channels and centers of a subtle body are probably best known from their occurrence in South and East Asian techniques of self-cultivation. Since the 19th century, elements from these traditions have mingled with similar concepts of European origin and disseminated on a worldwide scale. The globalisation and entanglements of these discourses have resulted in a plethora of practices, schools, and currents that still influence today's therapeutic and spiritual field. The conference focuses on two major themes: On the one hand, practices and interpretations of energy healing, and, on the other hand, concepts of kuṇḍalinī within modern yoga and transpersonal psychology.

More information can be found here.



Symposium der ÖGRW

(Österreichische Gesellschaft für Religionswissenschaft)

10 11 June 2022

Venue: Kleiner Festsaal der Universität Wien,

in cooperation with RaT

This symposium will focus on two topics. First, it will deal with questions of violations of bodily integrity and sexual violence in the context of different religions. The second focus is on the relationships between religions, sexuality and eroticism. Experts from religious studies, cultural studies disciplines and theology as well as religious representatives will deal with these topics in lectures, statements and discussions.

Organisational details about to follow.



Congress of the German Paul Tillich Society

6 – 9 July 2022

Venue: Tillich Building of the Dresden University of Technology,

directed by Christian Danz

From the winter term of 1925/26 to the end of the winter term of 1928/29, Paul Tillich taught at the Cultural Studies Department of the Technical University of Dresden as Professor of Religious Studies. In Dresden, not only fundamental works such as "Die religiöse Lage der Gegenwart" (1926), "Das Dämonische. Ein Beitrag zur Sinndeutung der Geschichte" (1926) and the two Kairos volumes (1926 and 1929) were written, also his Dogmatics, which he had already begun in Marburg, was further elaborated here.
The Paul Tillich Congress in Dresden is dedicated to the theologian's dense intellectual networks against the background of the struggles for interpretive sovereignty over the Weimar Republic.

The programme can be found here.



RaT members contribute to public discourse by writing in newspapers, giving statements in television and podcasts, and by publishing on our blog. These are two of our most recent blog entries:




"Russia is not only an important military ally of Turkey, but also an economic partner."


In this contribution, Hüseyin Çiçek analyses Turkey's role in the field of tension between international alliances and fault lines with regard to the Ukraine conflict..


"The novelty of the second letter to the Romans lies in the vehement rejection of a religious legitimisation or justification of inner-worldly ethical action."


Karl Barth is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. In this article, Christian Danz introduces us to what is probably Barth's most famous text, the second version of his commentary on the Letter to the Romans, published in 1922.





Katharina Limacher

These interviews titled "Tao – aus den Religionen der Welt" are about how people reconcile and live faith and love and what role religion plays in this. The religiously based forms of cohabitation between two or more lovers are diverse and sometimes differ markedly from tradition to tradition.



Katharina Limacher an interview on the topic "Happy Valentine! - Liebe in den Religionen".

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