Religion and church in state and society

Main Research Area:
Research Area:

Religion and church in state and society – with a specific focus on the church-state debate in Liechtenstein since 1997

Since the establishment of the archdiocese of Vaduz in December 1997, the debate about the reform of the relationship between state and church has grown stronger. In several attempts, Liechtenstein has tried to reform the state-church law – without success so far. The attempts have in common that they have tried to abolish the traditional „Landeskirchentum“ (Art. 37, Abs. 2 of the Constitution of Liechtenstein) and aim to unbundle or even separate state and church. The planned reforms mean a paradigm shift, because in future the state wants to define itself as religiously „neutral“ and head for a parity order of religions in the state law. The reform leads to several problems, because for historical reasons there exist strong ties between the state and the Roman Catholic Church, especially on the communal level. The fact that the state’s self-concept and the legitimation of state power will be transformed fundamentally as soon as the relationship with the religions is newly defined, has been largely ignored so far.

The research project examines the reform in Liechtenstein in the fields of religion, church, state, society in a systematic perspective, whereby the current debates shall be placed within the larger context of the history of ideas. The project is interdisciplinary insofar that it tries to integrate research from the fields of history, law, sociology (of religion) and other relevant disciplines.

First, a research report will collect and evaluate already existent works about the church-state relationship in Liechtenstein (historical, juridical, statistical and sociological research). Then, newer concepts in the philosophy of religion shall be outlined which dispute critically the theorem of secularisation and which call attention to the persistent relevance of the religions for the society and the state (Jürgen Habermas, Niklas Luhmann and others).

Against this background, the research project turns to the concrete reform efforts in Liechtenstein since 1997. A chronology of the political attempts (reviews, consultations, law- and contract-drafts) shall be compiled. Then the details shall be examined: state acknowledgment of religious communities; financing of religions (donations, church taxes, Eight per thousand); religious education in public schools; plans for contracts or a concordat; statutory holidays etc. Where indicated, comparisons to other states and their regulation shall be made.

The research project aims to study the political reforms from the inner perspective of the concerned religious communities and their self-image (Roman Catholic Church; Protestant churches; Orthodox churches; Islamic associations).

The research results shall be published in a monograph.