The 'Conservative Revolutionaries'

The 'Conservative Revolutionaries': The Protestant and Catholic Churches in Germany after Radical Political Change in the 1990s

Barbara Thériault
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    The 'Conservative Revolutionaries'
    Book Description:

    During the forty years of division, the Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany were the only organizations to retain strong ties and organizational structures: they embodied continuity in a country marked by discontinuity. As such, the churches were both expected to undergo smooth and rapid institutional consolidation and undertake an active role in the public realm of the new eastern German states in the 1990s. Yet critical voices were heard over the West German system of church-state relations and the public role it confers on religious organizations, and critics often expressed the idea that despite all their difficulties, something precious was lost in the collapse of the German democratic republic. Against this backdrop, the author delineates the conflicting conceptions of the Protestant and Catholic churches' public role and pays special attention to the East German model, or what is generally termed the "positive experiences of the GDR and theWende."

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-794-7
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The second revolution that took place in Germany over the last decade—the “revolution by means of contract” (Schluchter 1996)—led to the overthrow of the institutional order and the transfer of West German institutions to the territory of the former German Democratic Republic. German unification through “institutional transfer” (Lehmbruch 1994a) allowed the former East Germany to experience a quick transition to pluralism and to the market economy that was unique in central and eastern Europe.¹ Article 23 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) extended its institutions and structures to territory of the former German...

  6. Part I: The Genesis of Church Models
    • Chapter 1 Church Models as Guiding Metaphors and Organizing Principles
      (pp. 9-14)

      In spite of their organizational ties, the German churches were characterized by conflicting interpretations of their public role. East Germans were particularly challenged by the implosion of the GDR and unification through institutional transfer. Paying particular attention to this issue, this study attempts to delineate the conflicting conceptions or models of the churches’ public role and the work carried out by religious agents in molding these conceptions in the 1990s. To put it in a more Weberian manner, it looks at the institutionalization of a legitimate order following radical political change. Drawing on insights from Max Weber’s political and religious...

    • Chapter 2 The Catholic and Protestant Guiding Metaphors in the GDR
      (pp. 15-46)

      What the socialists had not achieved at Weimar, namely the privatization of religion through the separation of church and state and the abolition of church privileges, was to be materialized under the East German state, the GDR. The efforts of the regime to institute a new institutional matrix were deliberately aimed at the development of a “new man” and, as some have argued, a new faith. Yet, the sheer existence of organizations endowed with an autonomous cosmos challenged the regime’s institutional order. Indeed, in an authoritarian society, as the GDR surely was, “the Church becomes [the] modern guardian of cultural...

  7. Part II: The Transformation of Church Models
    • Chapter 3 The “Politics of Institutionalization”: An Analytical Introduction
      (pp. 49-57)

      Periods of radical change are marked by “institutional reflexivity.” What had once been taken for granted is now challenged. Once the restraints imposed by the SED had been removed, most Christians shared the opinion that the churches should strengthen their links with their western counterparts, although there was no agreement as to the form this rapprochement should take. The situation was also complicated by German unification: it opened up new spheres of influence for Christians and the churches in the former German Democratic Republic. There were now opportunities for organizational expansion in education, social welfare services, the media and state...

    • Chapter 4 The Pastoral Care of Soldiers and Conscripts: A Paradigmatic Debate
      (pp. 58-88)

      Guiding metaphors relate to activity scripts. As I have argued in the analytical introduction, they become manifest through conflict. With this in mind, the discussion on the future of the pastoral care of soldiers and conscripts should be crucial in pinpointing East German guiding metaphors. Although initially this issue may seem secondary and perhaps trivial, it unleashed passionate debates and was propelled to the center of controversy in negotiations leading to the restoration of the Protestant federation of churches, the EKD. Unlike the Catholic leadership, which advocated reform and swiftly extended the existing western Military Chaplaincy to the East, the...

    • Chapter 5 Religious Instruction: Living in a Secular World
      (pp. 89-113)

      For lack of explicit guiding metaphors, I delineated and described in the previous chapter the organizing principles conveyed by the “conservative revolutionaries.” The debate that ensued with the beginning of talks to introduce religious instruction in state schools enables us to gauge how the outlined principles are reflected, materialized, and legitimized. No other issue proved as controversial for both Protestants and Catholics and illustrated in such an overt manner the quandary felt by the churches as regards their own definition of their public role. A glimpse at the dispute suffices to affirm that it opposes two conflicting readings of modern...

    • Chapter 6 Social Welfare Provisions: At the Institutional Periphery
      (pp. 114-137)

      The extension of the Basic Law granted church-related organizations a privileged status to shape and implement welfare and social service provisions (Angerhausen et al. 1998: 290). Protestant and Catholic churches have undergone organizational consolidation and far-reaching expansion in the field of social welfare under the leitmotif of “subsidiarity.” As a matter of fact, the social role of the churches in East Germany was not primarily established through missionary activity. Instead, it was strengthened after the political change through the provision of social services within the East German welfare system (Pilvousek 2000: 35; Tangemann 1995: 163). In view of the debates...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 138-142)

    Quoting Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” at the beginning of his essay on the implosion of the GDR, Hirschman writes: “The immediate past is but rarely the object of our interest. Either the present takes hold of us forcefully or we lose ourselves in the remote past and attempt … to re-create what has been wholly lost” (1993: 173). The conceptual framework developed at the outset of this book has been instrumental in countering the pitfalls often associated with the study of contemporary history and circumscribing the object of inquiry. Drawing on conceptual tools such as guiding metaphors, organizing principles, and property...

  9. Appendixes
    (pp. 143-156)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 157-182)
  11. Index
    (pp. 183-188)