Like most European countries, Austria does not have a strict separation between state and church. Since the counter-reformation, it has been considered a country strongly influenced by Catholicism. Austrian attitudes towards religion derive from the Habsburg experience, when Austria's emperors and the Catholic Church acted in complete unison. This new volume in the Contemporary Austrian Studies series reevaluates this age-old tradition.
Religion in Austria focuses on relationships between political parties and religious faiths. Individual chapters analyze the impact of religion on contemporary Austria. They explore the post-World War II decline--perhaps even the demise--of political Catholicism in the Second Republic; the political pluralism, which the still-dominant Catholic Church had to become accustomed to; and the principle of religious tolerance all major political parties have learned to accept. Contributors discuss the different formal (legal) links between the privileged denominations (the Catholic Church and other Christian churches, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism) and the state, especially in the areas of education and public finance.
Particular emphasis is given to the two traditional Christian churches--the Roman Catholic and the Protestant (Lutherans and Reformists)--as well as to the fastest growing new denominations, Islam and Judaism. Since a growing number of Austrians declare themselves to be officially not affiliated with any of the denominations in this age of secularism, the phenomenon of the Konfessionslosen (persons without religious affiliation) is also examined.
This volume presents different approaches to the changing trajectory of religious practice in Austria, including contemporary history, political science, sociology, and law. It will be of interest to sociologists, historians, and students of religion.
Gnter Bischof is the 2003/4 Marshall Plan Anniversary Professor of Austrian Studies and the director of CenterAustria at the University of New Orleans.
Anton Pelinka is professor of political science at the University of Innsbruck and the director of the Institute of Conflict Research in Vienna
Hermann Denz is professor of sociology at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.