(A2-27) The Organisation of Religion

Various observations document that religious matters in Germany have been subject to a prolonged process of transformation since about 1960. In these, the dwindling attachment to popular churches, the undulating role of free religiousness and spirituality, and the establishment of non-native major religions coalesce into a multilayered finding. A distinct contrast to this empirical material dynamics of the field is the statics of the relevant legal (constitutional) warranties: Articles 4, 7 and 140 of the Basic Constitutional Law (Grundgesetz, GG), in conjunction with the so-called Weimar Church Articles, have remained unchanged since 1949. The legal processing of the change processes thus takes place on a different level, particularly through the concording of individual cases with other legal regulations (including European Community Law and warranties under international law), through contracts formed between the state and religious communities, and occasionally through simple statutory law.

Against this backdrop, the research project “The Organisation of Religion” intends to break down the developments, the status and the perspectives of religion’s law of organisation in detail. The overarching issue to be investigated in different subprojects will be the relationship of the forms offered by the national jurisdictions and the organisational needs of the religious communities. Thus, does the provision of general, not religion-specific forms of organisation subject to public and private law, which is prevalent in Germany, meet the requirements of religious freedom of association? Or, seen from the opposite perspective, is precisely the commitment to compatible structures a reasonable element of practicable religious law? As a guiding perspective, the functional determination of the legal organisation of religious communities is to be identified, which permits both sides to deal pragmatically with corresponding necessities. Thus, the focus is shifted from an all-embracing fundamental contextualisation of the topic to graduated, task-specific regulatory arrangements.

Methodical priority is given to the deliberate combination of constitutional requirements and administrative scientific findings of organisation related governance research, which is to help negotiate the cumbersome separation of consideration under private and under public law, and substitute it for an intradisciplinarily sophisticated approach.

In addition to a perspective that is generally safeguarding freedom, the issue’s relevance results primarily with regard to the numerous working relationships existing between religious communities and government agencies. With the pluralisation of the religious landscape, the joint organisation of tasks of the religiously neutral state and religious communities encounters novel challenges that need to be attended to scientifically. The intended functional reconstruction of the function and inventory of organisational types of these players also serves this purpose.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform E Differentiation and De-Differentiation and coordinated project group The implementation and enforcement of norms.