Religion in Politics

Religion in Politics Invitation to the 2012 Research and Policy Day Tuesday 13 November 2012 […]


Religion in Politics

Invitation to the 2012 Research and Policy Day

Tuesday 13 November 2012 at 8:30-17:00

Paasitorni Congress Centre, Paasivuorenkatu 5A, Helsinki


Binding registrations are requested by 31st October with this form.

The event is organized by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies with the support of the Kalevi Sorsa Foundation.


Religion is a sensitive and personal issue, but also a powerful social force, which has gained importance in many countries and also in world politics in recent years. How do religion and politics interact in different contexts and countries today?

We will explore the role of religion and Islamist parties after the Arab Spring, the comeback of religion in Europe and the keys to coexistence, the use of religion in American presidential elections and its impact on foreign policy, and finally, how religion affects Finnish politics.

The event is in English and Finnish, with simultaneous translation.



8.30–9.00        Registration & coffee


9.00–9.30        Opening

Maarit Feldt-Ranta, Kalevi Sorsa Foundation

David Kitching, Foundation for European Progressive Studies

9.30–11.00      Religious Politics in the aftermath of the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring was a great democratic revolution in which also Muslim movements played an essential part. But a year and a half later, the direction of democratic development is uncertain. Why have Islamist parties been successful at the ballot box and what are the implications for the future? What role is religion likely to play as a consequence?


Introductions by

Sally Toma, Activist of the Egyptian Revolution

Hannu Juusola, professor of Semitic Languages and Culture at the University of Helsinki

11.00–12.30    Religious Pluralism in secular Europe

Europe has been accustomed to secular liberal democracy, but multiculturalism has generated a widespread debate on the role of religion in social and political life. The Muslim population has grown in the West and Christian values been strengthened in the East – how does this effect politics and policy? What is the key to a peaceful co-existence of different religions?


Introductions by

Péter Losonczi, European Director of the International Research Network on Religion and Democracy

Usama Hasan, Senior Researcher at Quilliam Foundation


12.30–13.30    LUNCH


13.30–15.00    The united states, religion and the world order

 The impact of religion, not least the Christian right, has in recent years strengthened in US politics. How does it affect the presidential elections currently polarizing the nation? Or the role of the US in international politics, where religion also serves as a tool for mobilization?


Introductions by

Benjamin Zeller, Researcher of religion in America and a Fulbright Scholar at Åbo Academi University.

Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Global security researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (UPI).


15.00–15.30    COFFEE


15.30–17.00    Panel Debate: Religion in Finnish Politics

The Finnish consensus has been that religious beliefs belong to the personal sphere and not in politics. Although, the principle has at times been forgotten in the heat of election campaigns, also many moral issues raise religious questions. And Finland can’t avoid the challenges of multiculturalism on this front either, or can it?


17.00               Closing

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