Michael Schuering’s New Book on West German Churches and Environmentalism

Published: January 8th, 2016

Category: Faculty News, Feature, History Department News, Recent News

Congrats to Dr. Michael Schuering on the publication of his new book entitled, “Bekennen gegen den Atomstaat“. Die evangelischen Kirchen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und die Konflikte um die Atomenergie (“Professing against the Atomic State”. The Protestant Churches in West Germany and the Conflicts Concerning Atomic Energy (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2015)

This book explores the intersection of religion and environmental movements during a critical period of West German history. In the early 1970s West Germany experienced increasing public concern over a perceived crisis of growth and mounting environmental problems. The debate especially focused on energy and the expansion of nuclear technology as planned by the German government and several corporations. Ongoing and vivid protest on a nation-wide level ensued, part of which was carried out through and within the protestant churches. The commitment of pastors and parishioners to the cause ignited passionate internal debates. As church members mobilized protest in order to increase public awareness, congregations and synods became public platforms for the debate on nuclear technology.

The study is a historical evaluation of the churches’ changing political positions as they were confronted with the rise of the new social movements in West Germany. During this period of transition, demands for more progressive theological concepts and pastoral care arose. The book aims to assess the political and ideological challenges the churches faced especially in connection with environmental protests, which eventually altered their societal self-understanding. In the course of these conflicts, the protestant churches moved away from rigid, traditional authoritarianism towards a more open and liberal role within the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

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