Religion and morality policy


(1) To what extent are religious groups engaged in the implementation phase of morality policies?

(2) Which factors account for the variance in denominations’ governance engagement across and within Western European countries on morality policy issues?

The project aims to explain the engagement of religious actors subsequent to morality policy adoption, at the implementation stage. Research has concentrated on the formulation phase and howin the course of secularization, the influence of religious actors fades away. It thereby largely neglected the implementation stage of morality policy. However, underspecified and vague laws makes this stage extremely relevant for religious communities. In particular, we expect that the losers of the policy-making process seek to regain power in the phase of implementation (Mooney 2001). Our main argument is that religious communities’ engagement is determined by their governance capacity and the willingness to get involved. Church-state regimes and policy vagueness, in turn, offer the opportunity structure for religious group’s governance capacity. We examine this argument with regard to five morality policies where religious communities and the state meet and collide (abortion, euthanasia homosexuality, prostitution and religious education) and in six different countries (Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, France and Germany). Based on Hood’s (1983) typology of policy instruments, we develop an innovative analytical tool that measures the governance engagement of religious groups. For gathering the data, we triangulate the analysis of official documents, organizations’ web pages, written press with expert interviews. Besides offering a new empirical perspective, the research project provides an innovative theoretical framework to explain the variance of the involvement of religious communities in morality policy implementation.

Latest news and events

Call for Papers “New challenges of welfare states in (il)liberal times: How policy ambiguity promotes third-sector engagement in policy implementation”, 3-Ländertagung, 14-16 February 2019. Deadline: 23 June 2018
Panel Organization at the ECPR General Conference, 22-25 August 2018, Moral authority of churches in secular times: Religious actors and their engagement in policy implementation, Chairs: Irina Ciornei and Eva-Maria Euchner
Conference Paper at the ECPR General Conference, 22-25 August 2018, „From values to power: The church’s engagement in implementing morality policies in German states” (Eva-Maria Euchner and Olivia Mettang)

Conference Papers, Panels, and Workshops:

Workshop at the ECPR Joint Sessions 2018, The Politics of Values: Actors, Institutions, and Trends in the 21st Century, Chairs: Eva-Maria Euchner and Isabelle Engeli, University of Nicosia, 11.-14.04.2018
Conference Paper at the ECPR Joint Sessions Workshop 2018, „From values to power: The church’s engagement in implementing morality policies in German states”, University of Nicosia, 11.-14.04.2018.
Organization Double-Panel at the ECPR General Conference 2016, The religious factor in morality policies I+II, Panel Chair: Eva-Maria Euchner, Prague, 07.-10.09. 2016.
Conference Paper at the ECPR General Conference 2016, The role of religious communities in the implementation of morality policies, Authors: Irina Ciornei, Eva-Maria Euchner and Caroline Preidel.


(1) Eva-Maria Euchner (2018): Regulating islamic religious education in German states. A question of deviating state-church relationships in education. Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft (online first). Available here

(2) Eva-Maria Euchner and Caroline Preidel (2018): When Morality Policies meet Governance: Private governance as response to value-driven conflicts. Journal of Public Policy 38(1):57-81. Available here


The project is funded jointly by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Swiss Research Foundation (SNF).


Team Germany (LMU Munich)

Prof. Dr. Christoph Knill

Dr. Eva-Maria Euchner

Olivia Mettang

Lisa Riedel

Team Switzerland (University of Bern)

Prof. Dr. Christian Joppke

Dr. Irina Cironei

Ilay Yesil

Michalina Preisner