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The religious dimension of cohesion: “Cohesion through Conflict” meets Humboldt fellows

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

What do religions and worldviews have to do with social cohesion? To what extent do they challenge it as a facet of social pluralization? What resources do they offer in turn for constructively containing plurality? And what notion of social cohesion should be promoted anyway?

Along these guiding questions, Jo Frank (DialoguePerspectives) and Stefan Zinsmeister (Eugen Biser Foundation) presented the outlines of the program "Cohesion through Conflict" in a virtual conversation with the fellows of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's Humboldt Residency Program on November 10, 2022. This international and interdisciplinary group of experts includes high-ranking journalists, academics, and artists, and this year is looking at what holds societies together at their core. It is precisely here where the two programs intersect in terms of their epistemological and practical interests.

With reference to European and American examples, Jo Frank outlined how religious beliefs underlie political party interests and are sometimes instrumentalized for them. He also stressed the need for balanced public representation and equal treatment of the various religious communities. Stefan Zinsmeister used practical examples from the school system to explain how interreligious democracy education can succeed beyond ritualized prevention of extremism.

The Humboldt fellows were interested in the inclusivity and secular relations of the interreligious program "Cohesion through Conflict" and suggested, for example, to consider religious places such as mosques, churches, or synagogues in the context of the civil society surrounding them in order to find ways for productive collaboration.

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