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PREFACE

“God is back,” proclaimed the title of the renowned 2009 book by journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.

The book became an impetus for a renewed understanding of religion’s role in society on a global scale. It also showed how religion, only a few years after the Economist had published God’s obituary, had increasing impact and had once again risen to the top of the agenda in different parts of the world as well as in international affairs.

As a Norwegian think tank based on Christian thinking, this topic is of core interest to Skaperkraft. The idea to write the book you will now read, started with a recognition of the need to update this analysis and take a new look at religion in European politics after a decade in which political storms and instability seem to be the new norm.

On this basis, we soon recognised an urgent need to address the remarkable increase in references to Christianity and use of Christian symbols in European politics. These increasingly come from populist movements, which are now entering governments and reaching new positions of influence all across the continent.

What kind of God is back?

What does this tell us about the status of Christianity in European public life? What are the reasons for the growth of the populist parties, and how can Christian thinking help us navigate in a Europe on shaky feet?

The idea has come to fruition, thanks to a number of contributors. First of all, we want to express our gratitude and admiration for the excellent work of the editor, Dr Susan Kerr. We would not have been able to take this ship to the shore without her hands on the helm.

Thanks also to each of the contributors for dedicating time to work on this specific project: Prof. Jürgen Moltmann, Prof. Luke Bretherton, Christel Lamère Ngnambi, Prof. Ulrich Schmiedel, Dr Xavier Alonso Calderon, Prof. Joel Halldorf, Prof. Ernst van den Hemel, Ondrej Kolarovsky, and Nick Spencer. In addition to his writing, Ngnambi played an important role in developing the project from the beginning. We also appreciate the time taken by the former European Commissioner and acting Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, Dr Ján Figel’, to write the foreword.

The contribution to this book by Prof. Jürgen Moltmann is particularly appreciated. At the age of 93, he deserves a special mention for continuing to offer insights that look to reinstall value and meaning to our lives vis-à-vis the general disenchantment of our times. His background as a former soldier in the German army in the Second World War, adds even more value to his reflections on the growth of new nationalism and populism in modern Europe. We would not have secured Prof. Moltmann's participation in this project, but for an introduction by Prof. Idar Kjølsvik.

We want to express our gratitude for a constructive partnership in this project with Theos Think Tank in the UK, and for their senior fellow Nick Spencer’s dedication and contributions on the editorial board to develop the product from early on. Thanks also go to Oda Stendal for transcribing Prof. Moltmann’s text, as well as to Ellen Johanne Weydahl and Catharina Drejer for respectively producing and checking the translation of one of the chapters into English. Additionally, we appreciated the time taken by Prof. Henrik Syse to review the concluding reflections.

Thanks also go to the publisher’s editor Nicolai Strøm-Olsen for his enthusiasm and keen eye for detail. We also appreciate the contributions made through the editorial board by Victoria Martin de la Torre. Lastly, we would like to mention the financial backing from the support scheme of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture on dialogue and knowledge on religious issues. Skaperkraft has also received letters of support from churches across Europe and we wish to thank these churches for their interest in this project, and for donations received to print and promote the book.

August 2019—

Hermund Haaland

FOUNDER & INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR THINK TANK SKAPERKRAFT

Øyvind Håbrekke

RESEARCH DIRECTOR THINK TANK SKAPERKRAFT

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