Secularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany: The Rise of the Fourth Confession

Todd H. Weir

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Negotiating the boundaries of the secular and of the religious is a core aspect of modern experience. In mid-nineteenth-century Germany, secularism emerged to oppose church establishment, conservative orthodoxy, and national division between Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Yet, as historian Todd H. Weir argues in this provocative book, early secularism was not the opposite of religion. It developed in the rationalist dissent of Free Religion and, even as secularism took more atheistic forms in Freethought and Monism, it was subject to the forces of the confessional system it sought to dismantle. Similar to its religious competitors, it elaborated a clear worldview, sustained social milieus, and was integrated into the political system. Secularism was, in many ways, Germany's fourth confession. While challenging assumptions about the causes and course of the Kulturkampf and modern antisemitism, this study casts new light on the history of popular science, radical politics, and social reform.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages316
ISBN (Electronic)9781139699129
ISBN (Print)9781107041561
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • German History
  • History of Secularism
  • History of religion
  • Secularization

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