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15-17 June: Conference on “Religion and Socialism in the long 1960s: Encounters and Legacies in Eastern and Western Europe”

06 June 2017

Thursday 15 June 2017 will be the first day of a three day symposium about religion and socialism in the 1960s in Eastern and Western Europe. The conference has been made possible by the support of The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen and the KNAW.

Professor Todd Weir

Prof Todd Weir
Prof Todd Weir

This is the second meeting of the international research network “Religion and Socialism in the 20th Century”, which is coordinated by Prof. Todd Weir at the University of Groningen. From September 2016 Todd Weir has been working as Associate Professor in the Department of Christianity and History of Ideas of the University of Groningen’s Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. He is the director of the Faculty’s Centre for Religion and Heritage , and coordinates the new Master's programme Religion and Cultural Heritage that will start in September 2017.


The symposium “Religion and socialism in the long 1960s: Encounters and legacies in Eastern and Western Europe” examines the complex interactions of churches and socialist movements and states in the context of the Cold War and Détente. It will explore the parallel development of “scientific atheism” in the Eastern Bloc and forms of religious-socialist syncretism in the West, such as occurred in Italian “Catho-Communism”, liberation theology, or New Social Movements. The 1960s were a unique historical moment of convergence, when across Europe opposing worldviews were seeking dialogue.

Openness for dialogue and conversation

While the 1950s were characterized by violent conflicts between Church and State behind the Iron Curtain (closing of monasteries, large-scale arrests of priests, persecution of small churches), in the following decade both sides of the ideological divide were more open for conversation and these conversations took place both in Eastern and Western Europe. At roughly the same time, the Second Vatican Council radically revised existing liturgical practice, the socialist states sought to penetrate everyday life by introducing socialist rites of passage, and fora such as the Paulus Society brought together Marxist thinkers and theologians to discuss responses to the challenges of modern industrial society.

Conveners of the conference are Todd Weir, University of Groningen and Heléna Tóth, Bamberg University, who will both hold lectures at the symposium, together with 13 other international experts in the field of the European history of religion and worldviews.

When:           Thursday 15 June 2017 – Saturday 17 June 2017
Start:             16:30
Where:           Old Court Room, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Oude Boteringestraat 38, Groningen

For the conference program and registration, see

Last modified:12 June 2023 8.19 p.m.
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