Photo credits:
Lars Wallin (2nd photo)

SCAS News - 30 January, 2023

Moral Change and the Ambiguity of Religions - the Third Wittrock Lecture is Now Available in Print

Today the Collegium is delighted to present the printed version of the third Wittrock Lecture, Moral Change
and the Ambiguity of Religions: Christianity Between Racism and the Struggle Against It,
held at SCAS
by Prof. Hans Joas in June last year.

"The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s led to significant moral change in the United States. The
same is true for its predecessor, the abolitionist movement in the 19th century. Both movements were deeply
influenced by Christian convictions and actors. But could not the same be said about the other side of the
conflicts, the defenders of slavery and the proponents of racial segregation? Had not Christianity, despite its
morally universalist message, always accommodated itself to the institution of slavery? This lecture attempts
to offer a sociological explanation for the relative success of these morally motivated social movements. In
this connection, the main focus will be on their “prophetic” features. From this particular case study, some
generalizing conclusions regarding the complex interplay of “religious” and “moral” traditions will be drawn.
Neither religious nor secular traditions prove to be as unambiguous as their proponents often pretend."

The book is the third volume of Wittrock Lecture Book Series, which was launched in conjunction with
the instigation of the Wittrock Lecture in 2019. It follows Jürgen Kocka's Historians and the Future, and
Life in the Digital Time Machine by Helga Nowotny.

Moral Change and the Ambiguity of Religions: Christianity Between Racism and the Struggle Against It

Hans Joas
(Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, 2023)
ISBN: 978-91-981948-4-5

The book will be available for download here shortly.
To request a printed copy, please contact

To watch all Wittrock lectures, please see the View Lectures page.
To download previous volumes of the Wittrock Lecture Book Series, please see the SCAS Publications page.