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Todd H. Weir

Senior Research Fellow

(02/2022 - 08/2022)

Areas of Interest

  • Transnational conceptual history of Secularism
  • Confession and Worldview
  • History of Secularism and Religion
  • Heritage and Religious Change
  • Socialism and Religion

Culture Wars and the Shaping of Modern Worldviews: A Transnational Conceptual History

While a fellow in Leipzig, I will begin work on a research project that will provide a new understanding of modern “culture wars” by charting the transnational journey of a single word: worldview. It is the global story of a German concept that sets the popularization of Weltanschauung in mid-nineteenth-century Germany in the context of popular science and radical politics and then touches on its translation and deployment in the Netherlands and the UK, before focusing on North America, where the concept has helped shape secular-religious conflicts to this present day.

The project aims to reveal how each party to the culture wars coalesced around positive or negative definitions of worldview and through their apologetic efforts contributed to the further evolution and diversification of this hybrid secular-religious concept. Thus I follow the consecutive emergence or secularist Weltanschauung, the Neo-Calvinist concept of “Christian Worldview”, liberal critiques, political worldviews and finally contemporary uses. This project links concept formation to developments in scientific disciplines and state institutions, in particular religious education in European schools, and it integrates considerations of gender in the sociology of knowledge. I have already completed a number of pilot studies on the history of Weltanschauung.

One point of departure is “apologetics” as a method for connecting social and religious history to the history of ideas. I take insights from the theory and practice of apologetics from their Christian context, neutralize them, and then apply them to all participants (including secularists) in modern culture wars. The British Academy funded a 2017 conference and I co-edited a book with Hugh McLeod with essays inspired by this method: Defending the Faith: Apologetics and Politics in the Global Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.


Since 2017

Director, Center for Religion and Heritage, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Since 2016

Associate Professor, History of Christianity and Modern Culture, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands


Honorary Fellow, Historisches Kolleg, München, Germany


Senior Lecturer, Modern European History, The School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast, UK


Adjunct Lecturer, University of Washington, Seattle, USA


Magister, Modern History and Cultural Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Relevant Publications

  • Weir, Todd H. Red Secularism: Socialism and Secularist Culture in Germany 1890 to 1933. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022.
  • Weir, Todd H., and Lieke Wijnia, eds. Bloomsbury Handbook on Religion and Heritage in Contemporary Europe. London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2022.
  • Weir, Todd H. “Modern Germany.” In The Cambridge History of Atheism. Edited by Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021
  • Todd Weir and Udi Greenberg. “Religious Cultures and Confessional Politics.” in Oxford Handbook of the History of the Weimar Republic. Edited by Nadine Rossol and Benjamin Ziemann. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.
  • Weir, Todd H. “The Apologetics of Modern Culture Wars: The Case of Weimar Germany.” In Defending the Faith: Apologetics and Politics in the Global Twentieth Century. Edited by Todd H. Weir and Hugh McLeod, 19-37. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
  • Weir, Todd H. and Hugh McLeod. “Introduction” In Defending the Faith: Apologetics and Politics in the Global Twentieth Century. Edited by Todd H. Weir and Hugh McLeod, 1-16. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020.
  • Weir, Todd H. and Heléna Tóth. “Religion and Socialism in the Long 1960s: From Antithesis to Dialogue in Eastern and Western Europe.” Contemporary European History 29, no. 2 (2020): 127-38.
  • Weir, Todd H. “Hitler’s Worldview and the Interwar Kulturkampf. Journal of Contemporary History 53, no. 3 (2018): 597–621.
  • Weir, Todd H. “Introduction: Comparing nineteenth- and twentieth-century culture wars.” Journal of Contemporary History 53, no. 3 (2018): 489–502.  
  • Weir, Todd H. “Debating ‘Protestant Freedom’ in Nineteenth-Century Germany: Theology, Politics and Natural Science.” NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion 72, no. 2 (2018): 171-88.  
  • Weir, Todd H. “ ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes wird ekklesiologisiert’: Freidenker, Kirchen, Nationale Opposition und das Scheitern der Weimarer Demokratie.” Historisches Jahrbuch 137 (2017): 327-50.
  • Weir, Todd H. “Säkularismus (Freireligiöse, Freidenker, Monisten, Ethiker, Humanisten).” In Handbuch Religionsgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts im deutschsprachigen Raum. Edited by Lucian Hölscher and Volkhard Krech, 189-218. Paderborn: Schönigh, 2016.
  • Weir, Todd H. “The Christian Front against Godlessness: Anti-secularism and the demise of the Weimar Republic 1928 to 1933.” Past & Present 229, no. 1 (2015): 201-38.  
  • Weir, Todd H. “A European Culture War in the Twentieth Century? Anticatholicism and Antibolshevism between Moscow, Berlin, and Rome 1922 to 1933.” Journal of Religious History 39, no. 2 (2015): 280–306.  
  • Weir, Todd H. “Germany and the New Global History of Secularism: Questioning the Postcolonial Genealogy.” Germanic Review 90, no. 1 (2015): 6-20.
  • Weir, Todd H. Secularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany: The Rise of the Fourth Confession. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Weir, Todd H. “The Specter of ‘Godless Jewry’: Secularism and the ‘Jewish Question’ in Late Nineteenth Century Germany.” in: Central European History 46, no. 4 (2013): 815-49.
  • Weir, Todd H. “The Riddles of Monism: An Introductory Essay,” In Monism: Science, Philosophy, Religion, and the History of a Worldview. Edited by Todd H. Weir, 1-44. New York: Palgrave, 2012.
  • Weir, Todd H. “The Secular Beyond: Free Religious Dissent and Debates over the Afterlife in Nineteenth-Century Germany.” Church History 77, no. 3 (2008): 629-58.