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Accepted Paper:

The Rosary Crusade for the Homeland. Poland's controversial new religious movement  
Agnieszka Balcerzak (LMU Munich)

Paper short abstract:

Despite the Communist repressions, religiosity played already in the Polish People's Republic an important role. Nevertheless, new religious movements are a post-1989 phenomenon. A prime example of them is the Rosary Crusade for the Homeland fighting against the "dechristianization" of Poland.

Paper long abstract:

The Polish (trans)formation of new clerical-religious movements is the result of the change in the social position of the religion after 1989. Since the collapse of communism, an intense "renaissance of the religiousness" can be observed in Poland. At the same time, however, it can be diagnosed, that the sphere of religiosity cannot elude the tremendous impact of the modernization, secularization and individualization of religious practices.

As a result, on the one hand, there is a weakening of the social relevance of religion and the Catholic Church in certain parts of the country and in anticlerical social groups visible. On the other hand, paradoxically, these very processes of cultural modernization and differentiation lead to a defensive reaction of conservative milieus and to the revitalization of the meaning of religiosity in post-communist Poland.

The emergence of controversial new religious movements like the 2012 founded fundamentalist Rosary Crusade for the Homeland with over 125.000 members is the result of this development. Supported by communities like the Enthronement Movement of Jesus Christ as King of Poland, the politically active "patriots" come into conflict with the official Catholic doctrine and become labeled as "sectarians". By analyzing their cultural practices like demonstrations, billboard campaigns or clothing style, I would like to present the movement's xenophobic, anti-modern ideas and Manichaean worldviews. Further, by evaluating this controversial expression of "political Catholicism", I would like to outline the role of the movement and what does it reveal about the socio-political structures of the Polish post-communist religiosity.

Panel Reli03
Religious in idiosyncrasy. New religious movements in the 21st century [SIEF Ethnology of Religion Working Group]
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -