Religious Minorities and New Religious Movements: Portugal and Europe in a global perspective


International Conference

January 15-16, 2000

Lisbon, ISCTE, Aula Magna


As the project for the new law on Religious Freedom awaits discussion at the Portuguese Parliament, the dialogue and reflection on this issue becomes particularly appropriate. In fact, the social, civil and political meaning and implications of the coexistence of religious minorities in Portugal have seldom been the object of serious study, and it has become urgent the call upon a global perspective that fits the Portuguese case into the European context.

While the emergency and evolution of new religious movements occupies a place of prominence in the headlines of the Portuguese press, it is nonetheless necessary to acknowledge the lack of objective information regarding these new religions. To the generalised fashion of a particularly virulent speech, that tends to strengthen the social tensions, it is added the poverty of published scholarly studies in Portuguese and on Portugal.

Given this situation, the present conference will try to help establish healthy bases for the future development of this field, assuming a triple objective: the public discussion, clarification to the citizen from national and foreign scholars, and motivation of future research in this area of enquiry.

The presentations will focus on some essential issues, namely: how to carry on an inquiry in this "hot area" with a solid scientific base; the legal aspects of religious freedom; the validity and rhetoric of the brainwashing argument; dealing with the apparent contradiction between the process of secularisation and the emergency of new religious movements; the relation of the mainline churches with the traditional religious minorities and new religions; and the implications of the globalisation process to the configuration of the local religious landscape.


Confirmed Speakers


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