The PaulinerFORUM is a new discussion forum based at the University Church of St Paul. These annual debates about current issues in religion, culture and politics will be an opportunity to facilitate active engagement in civil society and to offer insights that will enable citizens to form their own positions within an increasingly confusing social and political landscape. The forum is organized by the Faculty of Theology of the Leipzig University and supported by the Foundation ´University Church of St Paul, Leipzig´ as its partner and main funding body. The PaulinerFORUM takes place with the organisational support of the Evangelische Verlagsanstalt. Being both the University´s assembly hall and church, the location of the old University Church, which was blown up by the Communist regime in 1968, is a symbol for the debates about society and politics, about the interpretation of the past and the shaping of present and future. Thus stands within the great tradition of Leipzig as the city of the Peaceful Revolution and its standing iup for freedom and democracy.

Motivated by the tremendously positive response to the first PaulinerFORUM in 2019, the PaulinerFORUM 2020 took place on 22 October 2020 in the Assembly Hall and University Church of St. Paul in Leipzig.

Under the heading ´Why is there no peace´, the PaulinerFORUM 2020 offered reflections about the relationship between power and violence. Are human beings by nature prone to violence? Or is it possible to build societies where violence can be abolished? Is a politics of radical non-aggression a potential step on the way to building such societies? These were the questions discussed by the well-known historian and expert on political violence, Prof. Dr Jörg Baberowski. He outlined the mechanisms by which power is asserted, established and maintained. He considered the functional significance of power as well as the necessity and possibility to contain it. For the Foundation ´University Church of St. Paul, Leipzig´, it is of particular importance that this topic has been taken up on the location of the old University Church of St. Paul. In an unparalleled demonstration of power and violence, it was destroyed in 1968 by the SED dictatorship. 

Panellists: Dr Horst Gorski (EKD) and Prof. Dr Rochus Leonhardt (Faculty of Theology of Leipzig University)

Welcome: Prof. Dr Andreas Schüle, Dean of the Faculty of Theology

Chair: Reinhardt Bingener (FAZ)

In order to be able to continue to support further PaulinerFORUM events as a partner, the Foundation needs donors and financial contributions. Please help us! Further information about how to donate can be found HERE.



The first PaulinerFORUM  took place on 29 May 2019 in the University Church of St Paul at the Leipzig Augustusplatz. Under the heading ´State without god?´, Horst Dreier, a well-known expert on the law of state and public administration, legal philosopher. recipient of a number of awards and professor at the University of Würzburg, spoke about ´State constitution and the question of God. Dreier´s lecture was followed by a panel discussion with the renowned philosopher of religion and theologian Ingolf U. Dalferth (2017 Visiting Leibniz Professor of the University of Leipzig) and Christoph Enders, Professor for Public Law and State and Constitutional Law, who is well-known for his work in the fields of human dignity and human rights. The panel was chaired by Reinhard Bingener of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

In his widely discussed 2018 book ´Staat ohne Gott?´, Horst Dreier argued for a liberal constitutional state, where the authority of law is separated from specific religious and ideological convictions. The secular state rests on two pillars: on the one hand, freedom of religion for all citizens, and on the other hand, the neutrality of the state with regard to religion and worldview. This presupposes a clear separation of state and society. However, a state without God does not mean: human beings without God, or society without God. The neutrality of the state does not mean the neutrality of society. Human beings as members of society are able to live according to their own convictions and stand up for their convictions in the powerful and public way precisely because the state itself abstains from questions of religion and worldview. A society based on pluralism, human rights and democracy does not regard the disagreements and controversies that inevitably follow as negative but they are its very foundation. The debate on 29 May 2019 was an  opportunity for these and other views to be aired and discussed in lively and controversial but also wise and respectful manner.