Journal Article

Freedom and Control in the Unified Germany: Governmental Approaches to Alternative Religions Since 1989

Hubert Seiwert

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 64, issue 3, pages 367-375
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712490
Freedom and Control in the Unified Germany: Governmental Approaches to Alternative Religions Since 1989

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This article describes German governmental reactions to anti-cult fears during the decade after the unification of the two German states in 1990. The government and parliament reacted to a public panic when in 1996 a Commission of Inquiry into so-called sects was instigated. While the working of this commission contributed to the cooling down of public emotions, it did not fundamentally change the negative view of new religious movements (NRMs) in German society. Federal and state administrations still attempt to restrict the propagation of alternative religions. The limits set by the Constitution and decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court protect religious minorities against excessive discrimination. However, officials and politicians usually share the common perception of NRMs as potentially dangerous and therefore undesirable groups. It is argued that discrimination of religious minorities is due not to deficiencies of the constitutional order, but to cultural values disrespecting religious commitment.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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