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About the centre

As modern times have created a crisis in religious meaning, the CRCS investigates the major challenges faced by religion in today’s society. The Center for Religion and Contemporary Society (CRCS) studies the current position and role of religion and spirituality in this context.

Research themes

The CRCS studies religion and spirituality following three interrelated themes:

  • Social cohesion and conflict
  • Contingency and distress
  • Death and dying

The CRCS analyses these issues within Catholicism and Protestantism, Islam, Oriental Christianity, Asian and indigenous religions, as well as among people with no particular religious affiliation. The CRCS aims for empirically informed theory development on contemporary religion and spirituality, whilst taking into account the historical and textual origins of present-day religion.

The CRCS investigates the changing role and impact of religious texts, beliefs and practices, as well as how these changes influence people, institutions and society.

At a societal level we investigate the controversial position of religion in the public domain and the partial and differential role of religion in social cohesion. At the institutional level we focus on the diminishing and at the same time changing role of religion in defining public values in among other things education, health care and public policy. At the personal level we investigate the role of religion regarding the forming of personal meaning, in particular in moments of insecurity and distress.


To find answers to these questions, the CRCS closely cooperates with social sciences, law and medicine. This multidisciplinary approach offers new insights into possible theory formation on religion and spirituality.

Vital to us is the valorisation of our academic work. We do this by working with professionals in religious communities, education, care and politics. Societal impact and knowledge also play a significant role in our efforts to reach a more general audience through public lectures and contributions to the media and exhibitions.

The Center for Religion and Contemporary Society encompasses three chairs: Comparative religious studies, Empirical and practical religious studies and Islam studies.