Religious diversity in Europe - past, present and future
Religious beliefs and affiliation to religious groups and communities were historically the cornerstones of the functioning of societal relations in Europe. Acknowledging the rich tradition of the co-existence of diverse religions in Europe, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Despite this strong commitment to the freedom of religion in Europe, religious tensions still exist in many European societies, and have sometimes been exacerbated by the instrumentalisation of religion for political ends by extremists. It is therefore indispensable to understand better the new landscape of religions, secularism and spirituality in Europe and analyse both the roots of radicalisation and religious intolerance and peaceful coexistence and dialogue in Europe in order to support the values and practices of peaceful co-existence and rationality. Contextualising religious co-existence from a historical perspective can contribute to the promotion of a European public and cultural space and to enhancing mutual dialogue and understanding.
Using a broad historical and geographical perspective, the proposed comparative and multidisciplinary research will examine various types and elements of co-existence of diverse religious and non-religious communities in Europe today and in the future. It should deepen knowledge about the relations, cooperation, tensions within and among these diverse communities or social groups. The gender dimension of these issues should be also considered. This research will further survey the position and role of religiosity, non-religiosity or other philosophical convictions in today’s European society as well as their role for today’s, especially young, Europeans. It will assess the development of various forms of spirituality as a potential combination/compromise between secularism and religion in modern and post-modern democracies. It will broaden the European comparative perspective of the historical roots of today's religious tolerance and intolerance by also taking into account the historical and present experiences of those countries and territories that joined the EU after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
By providing a historical and comparative perspective, research will enable European citizens to better grasp the conditions needed for religious and non-religious coexistence in Europe. It will be translated into innovative dissemination tools in order to be used for education purposes of any type (e.g. formal, informal) and discipline (history, political science, civic education) and in proposals for appropriate changes in national educational systems. The conclusions will also inform policy recommendations targeted at policy- and opinion-makers of different levels in preparing future strategies of cooperation with religious communities as well as in coping with anti-religious animosity. Research outcomes will also reach out to the broadest range of media.