OP 168 Kruijer English: „Zwei Herzen schlagen in meiner Brust“

Opusculum 168 | 19.01.2023 | Bente Kruijer | Church asylum in Germany: An analysis of the positions of church asylum actors during the policy changes on sanctuary practice from 2018-2020



Religious actors in public life and political work have been argued to break with secular assumptions about their expected role in modern societies. Previous interdisciplinary research in the field of international relations has analyzed this development for organizations as religious actors but tends to overlook the individual. The current study investigates this individual experience and explores the positioning of self-identified Christian religious actors as they reflect on the implications of their engagement in church asylum practice in Germany. Through semi-structured interviews with sanctuary actors operating from the summer of 2018 to the winter of 2020 in Berlin and Brandenburg, it provides insights into the challenges of church asylum in Germany during its most recent impactful happening, the nationwide changes of the application of the EU Dublin III Regulation. Supported by theories related to migration, religion, and (post-)secularism, the study identifies three areas in which sanctuary actors may position themselves when reflecting on the implications of their involvement: the personal, institutional, and societal. The research demonstrates that in their reflections, sanctuary actors both differentiate between and unite Christian being and political action. It concludes that, in their self-reflections, church asylum actors both reproduce and challenge a secular narrative of contingent “religious” and “secular” categories and situate themselves through this in the midst of German secularizing society.