Religion and Politics Workshop

Press release — 26 October 2012

International Workshop
Religion, Law and Policy Making: European Norms and National Practices in Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation

The Center for EU-Russia Studies (CEURUS) at the University of Tartu organises the 2nd International Workshop on Religion and Politics, aimed at advancing the multidisciplinary study of the linkages between ‘religion, policies and law’ in Central and Eastern Europe. The workshop takes place  from 13-14 June 2013 in Tartu, Estonia and is  jointly organized by Dr. Alar Kilp (University of Tartu), Prof. Jerry Pankhurst (Wittenberg University, Ohio) and Prof. William B. Simons (University of Tartu). This workshop continues the discussions we started at our first International Workshop “Religion, Politics and Policy-making in Russia: Domestic and International Dimensions,”  which took place in Tartu in June 2012 and the results of which are being published in a special issue of Religion, State and Society.

The complex interplay between European and national law, and law, policy and religion at the levels of nation and European Union is approached from jurisprudential, religious, sociological, cultural, historical, and political science (including CP, theory and IR) perspectives. James T. Richardson, Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno and distinguished scholar of religion and law, will deliver the keynote address.

The conference participants will pay particular attention to the following questions:

  • How do the national (regional and sub-national) policies related to ‘religion and law’ interact with supranational (European, international and universal) norms, ideas, discourses, principles and practices?
  • Does the European Union advance a well defined position regarding religion in the spheres of law, cultural values and collective identity defining—in these realms—what it means to be ‘European’? Have the attempts at cultural, political and legal Europeanization resulted in increasing ‘divergence or convergence’ of national patterns of religion, policy making and law’? How have the outcomes of the processes of Europeanization differed in pre- and post-accession periods, and in countries within and outside of EU?
  • Have organized religious actors perceived the processes of Europeanization in positive or negative terms? Have they condoned or resisted the processes of cultural Europeanization? Are the secularist elements of the ‘Europeanness’ of the European Union being questioned by versions of ‘Europeanness’ as defined by transnational religious cultural traditions (such as Catholicism and Orthodoxy)? If so, how have the questions played out on the legal stage?
  • At the level of nation-states, how are the rights of traditional religious communities, their cultural and political status(es), balanced with the democratic rights of religious associations, cultural rights of minorities, and moral rights and freedoms of individuals? At what dimensions and policies have these ‘national patterns’ diverged from norms and practices of the European Union?
  • How have the religious leaders and institutions conceptualized (European) law? How have religious actors and their secular allies reacted to the Europeanization of the national system of law?
  • Have the states utilized law as a means of social control of religion and religious groups—under the banner of protecting national security and other purposes—in ways diverging from norms and practices condoned by the EU?
  • How are religion and policy-making affected by the layering of legal and other international codes? Are the stipulations of the UN (and its agencies), the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the EU (with its various specific programs and initiatives), NATO, CIS, and the like, working consistently with each other or are there contradictions and conflicts?
  • Are there effects of general globalization on legal and policy development vis-a-vis religion? What are they and how important are they?

Time schedule:

Participants who’s paper proposal have been accepted are asked to submit full papers no later than 30 April 2013 to Alar Kilp. Participants whose full papers are accepted to the program will be notified by 7 May 2013 and all accepted papers will be made accessible to the workshop participants. Participants will be asked to submit comments on other papers prior to the workshop. They should be sent again to Alar Kilp, who will gather the feedback and relay it to the paper-givers.

Papers must have the following structural components: introduction, where the scientific problem is formulated; a well-defined research object, the subject, aim and tasks as well as the methodology of the research; and the results of the research and conclusions.

Publication of Papers

The convenors of the Workshop hope to attract submissions of sufficient quality to lead to an edited special issue in the journal Review of Central and East European Law. For this all paper-givers will be asked to submit a revised version of their contributions no later than 10 July 2013 to be edited and submitted to the journal. Papers are expected to be copy-edited for appropriate English-language usage prior to submission. All papers must conform to the style guide of the journal, which will be given to all participants in due course. Papers will go through a review process prior to publication.

For inquires and submission of papers, contact the conference coordinators: Alar Kilp (alar.kilp[at], Jerry Pankhurst (jpankhurst[at] or William B. Simons (william.simons[at]

Learn more about the Centre for EU-Russia Studies (CEURUS)