International Conference: Pentecostalism and Politics

Press Release No. 26/2013
29 January 2013
Researchers from 17 countries convene in Heidelberg to discuss the political influence of Pentecostalism in different parts of the world

Christian Pentecostalism is the focus of a conference being held 1 and 2 February 2013 at Heidelberg University. Approximately 90 experts from 17 countries will convene to discuss the political influence of this religious movement in various parts of the world as well as other issues. The conference is being organised by the Section of History of Religions and Mission Studies of Heidelberg University’s Department of Theology and the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent), which was founded by scientists from the universities of Amsterdam (VU), Birmingham, Heidelberg and Uppsala and provides a network for academic research on the worldwide Pentecostal movement.

“The worldwide growth of Pentecostalism has strongly influenced local politics and the political cultures of various regions in recent years, which is of lasting importance in international politics, development work and interreligious cooperation”, explains Prof. Dr. Michael Bergunder, who teaches and conducts research in the Department of Theology at Heidelberg University. Participants in the international conference will analyse the processes involved on the basis of concrete regional expertise in different disciplines. The purpose of the conference is to gain a differentiated view of the relationship between Pentecostalism and political processes and thus initiate new approaches to research.

As Michael Bergunder explains, in the 20th century the Pentecostal movement has become a very important force within worldwide Christianity. With its theology and devoutness rooted in the Holy Spirit, the Pentecostal movement is marked by a dynamic spirituality, cultural adaptability and organisational fragmentation. According to general estimates, between 20 and 25 per cent of world Christianity has Pentecostal and charismatic elements, although the Heidelberg religious scholar points out those estimates are difficult, at best, to confirm. This has consequences not only for the Christian self-concept particularly in North America, but migration also gives rise to an increased presence of Pentecostal and charismatic groups in the religious landscape of Germany and Europe. In the wake of this development, new questions arise with respect to research on Christian identity and on ecumenical cooperation in religious studies.

The “Pentecostalism and Politics” conference, being held in English, will host experts from the fields of religious studies, political science, sociology, ethnology and theology, as well as representatives from a number of regional studies. In addition to the keynote presentations, the event will also give young researchers the opportunity to introduce their research projects and network with experts on an international level.

For more information, go to:

Note for news desks:
The conference, in English, will take place on Friday, 1 February, and Saturday, 2 February, in Schmitthennerhaus, Heiliggeiststraße 17.

Dr. Jörg Haustein
Department of Theology
Phone +49 6221 54-3360

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