Secularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany: The Rise of the Fourth Confession

Secularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany: The Rise of the Fourth Confession

By: Todd H. Weir (author)Hardback

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Negotiating the boundaries of the secular and of the religious is a core aspect of modern experience. In mid-nineteenth-century Germany, secularism emerged to oppose church establishment, conservative orthodoxy, and national division between Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Yet, as historian Todd H. Weir argues in this provocative book, early secularism was not the opposite of religion. It developed in the rationalist dissent of Free Religion and, even as secularism took more atheistic forms in Freethought and Monism, it was subject to the forces of the confessional system it sought to dismantle. Similar to its religious competitors, it elaborated a clear worldview, sustained social milieus, and was integrated into the political system. Secularism was, in many ways, Germany's fourth confession. While challenging assumptions about the causes and course of the Kulturkampf and modern antisemitism, this study casts new light on the history of popular science, radical politics, and social reform.

About Author

Todd H. Weir serves as a lecturer in Modern European History at Queen's University Belfast. After a formative experience as an exchange student in East Germany in 1988, Weir trained as a historian at the Humboldt University, Berlin and Columbia University, New York. He has previously taught at Humboldt University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington. Weir has been a resident scholar at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Simpson Center for the Humanities of the University of Washington, and the Historisches Kolleg in Munich. He is the editor of Monism: Science, Philosophy, Religion, and the History of a Worldview (2012), and his articles have appeared in Central European History, Church History, German History, German Studies Review, and Deutschland Archiv. Weir's research has also been supported by grants from the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Leverhulme Trust.


Introduction; 1. Dissidence and confession 1845 to 1847; 2. Free religious worldview: from Christian rationalism to naturalistic monism; 3. The sociology of dissent: free religion and popular science; 4. Politics and free religion in the 1860s and 1870s; 5. Secularism in the Berlin Kulturkampf 1869-80; 6. From worldview to ethics: secularism and the 'Jewish Question' 1878-92; 7. Secularism in Wilhelmine Germany; Epilogue: German secularism after 1914.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107041561
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 316
  • ID: 9781107041561
  • weight: 570
  • ISBN10: 1107041562

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