Religion, Law, and Culture

Religion, Law, and Culture

The research group “Religion, Law, and Culture” combines and correlates theological, legal, political, and cultural studies perspectives. In particular, our work currently focuses on five thematic areas: digital transformation, public theology and religion, theological hermeneutics, institutional change, and bio and medical ethics. (Already completed projects are listed at the end.)

1. Digital Transformation

The thematic area “digital transformation” focuses on an interdisciplinarily grounded and theologically and ethically pointed reflection on societal, political, and social challenges associated with the spread of digital technologies and media. A careful analysis is central to this. Indeed, an unspecific reflection on “the” digitalization of society is just as meaningless as a reflection on “the” analog world. The widespread talk of “digital transformation” implies something new—but what is actually new and what just comes along in the guise of innovative technologies? To answer this, a broad interdisciplinary analysis is required. This analysis should also illuminate and reflect on the new ethical implications.

Our emphasis is on changes in democratic culture and challenges for scientific theory and practice. The projects are currently in preparation.

  • Democracy in digital transformation
  • Framing AI. Metaphor, narrative, and frames in artificial intelligence discourse from a media studies and ethics perspective.
  • Scientific theory and practice in digital transformation
  • Cursor_ Journal for exploratory theology
  • Workshop “Theologies of the Digital: An International Research Colloquium” in cooperation with Prof. Hanna Reichel (Princeton Theological Seminary), November 15–16, 2019, Princeton.

2. Public Theology and Religion

Religion is not only a private matter, but always moves outward: in symbols, organizations, convictions, and in the form of public religious actors. The projects of this area explore the becoming-public of religion (and, with that, address the question concerning the state of “the public”). They are then analyzed and conceptualized as “public theology.”

The legal system has a point of connection with the becoming-public of inner, strongly binding convictions: the concept of freedom of conscience. We examine this concept from various perspectives.

  • Public theology
    • Protestantism and National Identity. Conference of the “Fachgespräch Evangelische Ethik”
  • Public religion
    • Religion in new urban districts
  • Freedom of religion and conscience
    • The conscience

3. Theological Hermeneutics

Theological hermeneutics clarifies what constitutes theological understanding and how it takes place. At FEST, this area especially focuses on the bible as a foundational text of ecclesial and theological understanding. Within theology, the bible is studied in various different disciplines; the network “Schriftbindung evangelischer Theologie” relates them in an interdisciplinary approach.

  • Hermeneutics of scripture
  • Network “Schriftbindung evangelischer Theologie”
  • Scientific theory and practice in digital transformation

4. Institutional change / Institutions in transition

The fourth thematic area is devoted to the analysis of central institutions of social cohabitation and their change. It focuses in particular on the interactions and areas of contact between the state, civil society, and individuals.

The state itself can also be viewed as an institution. The statehood of the Federal Republic of Germany is changing in multiple dimensions through both internal and external developments. The states of the European Union are institutionally, legally, and politically linked in a new and unprecedented way.

  • Transnational corporations in international law
  • International Health Governance
  • Departmental research
  • Political consulting

5. Bio and Medical Ethics

The last thematic area analyzes fundamentals of medical and bioethics as well as individual bioethical topics from a theological, legal, and cultural studies perspective. In addition to a long-term pursuit of bioethical topics and an analysis of current issues, there is also the possibility of accompanying current parliamentary processes.

  • Completed projects
  • Euthanasia
  • Reproductive medicine

6. Completed Projects

  • Bio and Medical Ethics
    • Care for creation
    • Ethics in the laboratory
    • Healthcare
    • Pastoral care
    • Aging as self-realization
    • Boundaries of the will
  • Aspects of Public Religion
    • On the concept of public religion
  • Culture and Law of Diaconia
    • Diaconal culture
    • Church labour law
  • Individual and Institution
    • Dealing with guilt
    • Boundaries of the will
    • The family in law and society
  • Change in the Welfare Sector
    • Diaconal culture
    • Healthcare




Student Assistants:

  • Jonathan Fischer-Woudstra