Religion and law, religious minorities and minority rights, religious freedom, religious plurality, state-church relations, religious non-conformism, new religious movements, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Twelve Tribes
Europe (esp. Germany)
Markus Vollert (née Klank) holds an MA in Religious Studies and a BA in History (both from the University of Leipzig). In his MA thesis he examined the problem of state neutrality concerning religion and ideology in light of religious pluralization in Germany, with a particular focus on the differences between legislative power and jurisdiction. Since 2013 Vollert has been studying law at the University of Leipzig in parallel to his doctoral studies at the MPI and the University of Leipzig.
His doctoral project deals with the limits of religious freedom in Germany when religious and state norms collide. Using the case of the Twelve Tribes, a small millenarian Christian community, as a springboard, Vollert focuses on how the German state deals with those religious minorities that are labelled “cults” (Sekten) in public discourse.
Why Law and Anthropology?
"The so-called ‘return of religion’ that has generated so much controversy at the threshold of the twenty-first century is strongly connected to the fact that an increasing number of non-established religious groups and religious minorities in Germany (as well as in other countries) are trying to claim the same rights as the established churches. One of the main challenges of contemporary religious studies is to examine this process and its effects on religions, law, and society in general, and to combine such analyses with recent discussions on secularism, religious diversification, and religious freedom. However, religious studies has thus far made very little use of approaches from legal anthropology, despite the fact that they have great potential to help understand the relationship between groups and individuals and their positioning in (legal) cultures. Processes of adaption, assimilation, and defence − in other words, cultural dynamics within groups as reactions to the legal cultural conditions of the social environment – are particularly amenable to legal anthropological approaches. For this reason. I try to combine research questions from religious studies with methods and approaches from legal anthropology to analyse the complex reactions of religious groups to changes in their legal environment."