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 supported by the University of Leipzig, and the Institute for Practical Theology in particular, with 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. 

The first PaulinerForum ´State without God´ took place on 29 May 2019 in the University Church of St Paul at the Leipzig Augustusplatz. The main speaker was Horst Dreier from the University of Würzburg, well known for his work in the areas of legal philosophy and the law of state and public administration. Dreier´s presentation 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 had been chaired by the Editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Rinhard Bingener.

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 is based on two columns: 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. The participation of more than 500 people and their tremendous positive feedback gives the representatives of the PaulinerForum the right motivation to prepare the new Pauliner Forum on 22 October 2020. Further details  for this event can be found on our event calendar. The content of the new Pauliner Forum 2020 is communicated in English on this page soon. 

In order to be able to continue to support the PaulinerForum as a partner, the Foundation needs donors and financial contributions. Please help us! Account information for donors can be found HERE.


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