Religiosity in East and West

Conceptual and Methodological Challenges

The Cluster of Excellence "Religion and Politics" and the chair of the sociology of religion at University Münster as well as the chair of practical theology at University Siegen are organizing the conference “Religiosity in East and West – Conceptual and Methodological Challenges” in Münster, Germany, on 25-27th June 2019. The conference results from collaboration between Dr. Sarah Demmrich (psychologist of religion, Post-Doc at the chair of sociology of religion) and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Riegel (Professor for practical theology and religious education).


We welcome all conference participants to Münster! The conference venue is the castle of Münster, address: Schlossplatz 2, 48143 Münster.


We are happy to announce the program of the conference and are looking forward to welcoming you to Münster.


Public evening lecture: Prof. Dr. James V. Spickard (USA, University of Redlands): “Thinking Beyond the West: Seeing Religions with Unaccustomed Eyes”
25th June 2019, 6 – 7 pm. Lecture hall S9, 1st floor castle of Munster.


Registrations are open (registration fee 100€, including all social events). We apologize for the inconvenience.


We are thankful to the financial support of our conference by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).


We are awaiting your abstract submission until 15th January 2019 (see call for papers) to

  • Program

    Download the program

  • Public Evening Lecture

    Prof. Dr. James V. Spickard (USA, University of Redlands)
    “Thinking Beyond the West: Seeing Religions with Unaccustomed Eyes.”

    Social science was invented in the West and was shaped by Western culture. This includes its approach to religion. Scholars saw that Christians cared about people’s beliefs and about who ran their churches, so they focused on these parts of religious life. They ignored much of the rest. As a result, they had trouble understanding religions for which beliefs and church organization were less important.
    Had social science arisen in other parts of the world, it would have emphasized different things. This talk explores two of these. From ancient China we get the Confucian idea of a relational self. Lǐ, or the ritual regard for the people who shape us, creates dé, or virtue. A Confucian social scientist would ask, “Who sustains the sacred relationships on which our religious communities depend?” From the traditional Navajo, we learn how rituals shape people’s inner experiences to restore their sense of the world’s beauty. A Navajo social scientist would ask, “Do rituals in other religions guide people to a sense of wholeness? If so, how?”
    These non-Western ideas also have their blind spots. Even so, they let us see religion through unaccustomed eyes.

    25th June 2019, 6 – 7 pm.
    Lecture hall S9, 1st floor castle of Munster

  • Keynote speakers

    Prof. Dr. Ann Taves (USA, UC St. Barbara) – What Counts as Religious Experience? The Inventory of Non-Ordinary Experiences as a Tool for Analysis across Cultures and Traditions

    Ann Taves is a Professor at the department of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. In light of her interest in how people perceive experience and the conditions under which they interpret them as extra-ordinary and/or special, she became an international expert on the topic of religious experience. Prof. Taves founded the “Religion, Experience, and Mind Lab Group” in which she is currently researching what experiences count as religious or spiritual for people in the US and India.


    Assist.-Prof. Dr. Zuhal Ağılkaya-Şahin (Turkey, Medeniyet University) – Introducing Turkish Measures of Religiosity

    Zuhal Ağılkaya-Şahin is an Assistant Professor at the department of Psychological Counseling and Guidance at Medeniyet University in Istanbul/Turkey. Her studies are located in the field of religion, spiritual/pastoral care, and counseling. Next to her interest in various psychology of religion studies, her expertise is in teaching and giving spiritual care as well as counseling.


    Prof. Dr. Aryeh Lazar (Israel, Ariel University) – The challenges of religion research among Jewish (Israeli) samples

    Aryeh Lazar is an Associate Professor of psychology at the department of Behavioral Sciences at Ariel University in Israel. His research topics cover a wide range within the psychology of religion including psychological understanding of prayer, spirituality and job satisfaction, religious support and psychological well-being, religiousness, and sexual satisfaction – most in the relationship to Jewish religiousness. Therefore, Prof. Lazar became an international expert on Jewish religiousness and its correlates.


    Dr. Sabrina Müller (Switzerland, University Zurich) – Accountability in Christian communities in a pluralistic society 

    Sabrina Müller is a postdoctoral researcher in Practical Theology at Centre for Church Development, University of Zurich and an associate lecturer in Practical Theology at Faculty of Theology. Her main research topics are life-changing religious experiences and personal transformation processes, church development, missional movements such as fresh expressions of church, ordinary theology as well as pastoral theology and grief after suicide. 

    Description Keynote speakers

  • Conference description

    The concept of religiosity as a highly individual aspect of religion and its research was shaped in Protestant circles in the Western context (Belzen, 2015). It inspired a huge body of research and further developments in the psychology of religion, the sociology of religion, and theology. In non-Western contexts, however, this concept has been proven only partially effective for the description and measuring of religiosity. This observation raises the question if research on religiosity is a science of Western Christianity (Cutting & Walsh 2008; Hill & Hood, 1999). Even within the Western context the present concepts and instruments are only partially applicable to measure religiosity in highly religious individuals adequately. For example, an orthodox belief, which is practiced in some Protestant Free Churches, often does not contradict with life in a modern society (Vermeer & Scheepers, 2017). This observation raises the question if the contemporary conceptualizations and operationalization of religiosity are too strongly oriented towards the ideal of an enlightened and individualized belief.

    In light of these two observations, the Münster conference discusses the established concepts of religiosity and aims to expand them by alternative concepts where appropriate. For example, genuine approaches from non-Western cultures can add to the contemporary discourse of religiosity research (e.g., concepts of Muslim or Hindu religiosity). Similarly, a new understanding of highly religious milieus, which are – against the secularization theory – growing in modern societies, can stimulate a new concept of religiosity beyond individualized belief (e.g., Fresh Expressions, Mega Churches).

    Besides conceptualizing non-individualized religiosity, another challenge is the application of measures that grew out of the classic concepts of religiosity to the non-Christian and/or non-Western context (Dover, Miner, & Dowso, 2007; Ghorbani, Watson, Sarmast, & Chen, 2018). However, first approaches of religion- and culture-sensitive measures for different contexts have been developed during the last years (e.g., Abu-Raiya & Pargament, 2011; Ağılkaya-Şahin, 2015; Kamble, Watson, Marigoudar, & Chen, 2014; Loewenthal & Solaim, 2016; Ok, 2016). These do not only allow a more differentiated description of such religiosities, but also facilitate a valid research on its correlates. However, there has been only a few of such alternative measures of non-individualized religiosity until today and more instruments of this kind are needed which proof appropriate to various cultural contexts.

  • Call for Papers

    The conference wants to create an interdisciplinary scientific forum with scholars from diverse religious and cultural contexts. It aims to stimulate an international and intercultural scientific discourse on concepts and measures of individual religiosity and induce further conceptual developments in this kind of research. We, therefore, encourage scholars…

    … to share both empirical insights in and theoretical reflections on non-individualized religiosity within and outside Western contexts,

    … to critically assess the applicability of existing instruments in both non-Western and orthodox Western contexts, and

    … to present and discuss alternative instruments to measure individual religiosity without an individualization bias

    We welcome contributions with a scope on the psychology of religion, the sociology of religion as well as on theology. Additionally, we would be glad to attract scholars from different cultural backgrounds. Please submit a paper abstract (250 – 300 words) to  Sarah Demmrich by January 15, 2019.

  • Accommodations and travel information


    Münster, as a university and conference city, has many hotels and hostels.

    The following hotels and hostels are located in the city center and close to the conference venue:


    • Stadthotel Münster (74€/night; breakfast: 12€) 



                Address: Aegidistraße 21, Phone: +49251/ 4812-0

    •  Hotel Martinihof (83€/night incl. breakfast)



                Address: Hörsterstraße 25/26, Phone: +49251/ 41862-0

    • Ibis Hotel Münster (81,24€/night incl. breakfast)



                Address: Engelstraße 53, Phone: +49251/ 4813-0

    • Hotel Conti (79€/night incl. breakfast)



                Address: Berliner Platz 2, Phone +49251/ 846928-0

    Some other hotels

    Some Hostels (starting from 27€/night)

    Moreover you can check here for hotels or for cheap accommodation.

    Conference venue

    Address: Schlossplatz 2, 48149 Münster

    Getting there

    The bicycle is the most commonly used means of transport in Münster. Bicycles can be hired from the bicycle station at the main station, the Muenster Arkaden bicycle station or the “Bike Storage” in the Stubengasse.

    • Bicycle Station at the main station “Radstation

                prices: 8€/day; 20€/3 days

                Address: Berliner Platz 27a

                Phone: +49 251 4840170

                Online reservation is also possible

    • Bicycle Station at Stubengasse “Radlager

                Address: Stubengasse 21

                Same prices as the one above

                Phone: +49 251 703 67 90

                Address: Ludgeristrasse 100, 48143 Münster

                Same prices as the one above

                You can just go by and rent a bike

    By bus

    You can easily get to the conference place via bus. Arriving by train you can use a few different busses. There are two possible busstations where you can get off. On is called "Landgericht" the other one "Schlossplatz". Both busstops are very close to the venue.

    To get to "Landgericht" you can use:

    Line 11: Platform C1; Direction: "Münster Diekmannstraße"

    Line 12: Platform B1; Direction: "Münster Rüschhausweg"

    Linie 13: Platform B1: Direction: "Münster Technologiepark"

    To get to "Schlossplatz" you can use:

    Line R64: Platform C3; Direction: "Havixbbeck Bahnhof"

    Line 9: Platform B1; Direction: "Münster Von-Humbold-Straße"

    Line R73: Platform B3; Direction: "Altenberge, Münsterstraße"

    Line 1: Platform B1; Direction: "Münster Roxel Hallenbad"

    All bus rides take about 10 minutes.

    By car

    You can easily go to Münster via the highway A1 (Autobahnkreuz Münster-Nord or Münster-Süd) or highway A43 (Autobahnkreuz Münster-Süd). The best is to park on the parking spot in front of the Münster castle. From there it is only a five-minutes walk to the conference venue. If you are coming from the south (Münster-Süd), continue on Weseler Straße for about 5km. Follow the road until you can see the castle on your left hand side. If you are coming from the north (Münster-Nord), continue on Steinfurter Straße. Follow the road until you can see the castle on your right hand side.

    By train

    Münster can be reached via regional as well as intercity trains (Deutsche Bahn). Taking a taxi from the train station to the conference venue will take you about 10 minutes. If you leave the central station, on your left hand side you can find the taxis. If you rather want to walk to the conference venue, it will take you about 15 minutes.

    By plane

    The local airport Muenster/Osnabrueck has connections from several cities, both in Germany and Europe. Taking a plane from Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich will take you about an hour. There is a bus to the train station (Line S50, R51, D50 – every 30 min – Direction: Münster). Alternatively, you can fly into Dortmund or Duesseldorf and take the train to Muenster.

  • Organising Committee

    Dr. Sarah Demmrich (psychologist of religion, Post-Doc at the chair of Sociology of Religion) and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Riegel (Professor for Practical Theology and Religious Education).