Neostory Open Science

(Chapter) Religions in Modern History (ca. 1900–2000)

The chapter Religions in Modern History (ca. 1900–2000), which is part of the European history textbook The European Experience: A Multi-Perspective History of Modern Europe (edited by Jan Hansen, Jochen Hung, Jaroslav Ira, Judit Klement, Sylvain Lesage, Juan Luis Simal and Andrew Tompkins), was co-authored with Laszlo Csorba, Sylvain Lesage, and Ángela Pérez del Puerto. Please find the chapter’s introduction in the next section, followed by the PDF of the whole text. Below is the bibliographical reference and the link to the publisher’s site.


In the twentieth century, the role of religion and religious institutions in Europe was far from uniform across the continent’s diverse landscape of religions and confessions. From Portugal in the southwest to Russia in the northeast, these range between traditional forms of religion like Catholicism, Protestantism (Lutheranism, Anglicism, Calvinism, etc.), Judaism, (Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Russian, etc.) Orthodoxy, Islam, and even Buddhism (in Russia’s Kalmykia). On the other hand, the increasing number and impact of atheism, agnosticism, anti-religious regimes, alternative spiritual movements, civil religions, and immigrated religions also played a significant role. As this chapter will show, religion remained a highly relevant category in Europe: whether on the side of the powerful (as in Spain), as an important differentiator of national identity (as in Northern Ireland), or as a target for oppression (as in the case of the Holocaust or in the Balkan Wars). This chapter chooses to follow a chronological order, and focuses on a series of key moments illustrating the transformations of religions in Europe: laïcité and the separation of church and state in France; the Russian Revolution as the starting point of state-led, socialist secularisation; the interwar period and Second World War and the project of eradicating religious ‘minorities’; postwar economic growth and the challenge posed by increasing individualisation; Vatican II and the major aggiornamento by the Catholic Church, and so on.

Full text

Bibliographical reference

Laszlo Csorba, Sylvain Lesage, Ángela Pérez del Puerto, and Thomas Schad: 6.1.3 Religions in Modern History (ca. 1900–2000), in: Jan Hansen, Jochen Hung, Jaroslav Ira, Judit Klement, Sylvain Lesage, Juan Luis Simal and Andrew Tompkins (Eds)(2023), The European Experience: A Multi-Perspective History of Modern Europe. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0323, S. 715-724. [LINK]

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