Skip to main content Accessibility help

Religious Legacies, Churches, and the Shaping of Immigration Policies in the Age of Religious Diversity

  • Michael Minkenberg (a1)


Western democracies are undergoing a process of extraordinary religious and cultural pluralization which is largely a result of an intensified immigration over the last decades. This article analyzes in a structural and an actor-oriented perspective the way in which religion affects the immigration policies in 19 Western democracies. Based on a typology of immigration regimes in 19 Western democracies, the article asks what role Christian legacies (Catholic and Protestant traditions, church-state regimes, Christian parties) and churches (both Catholic and Protestant) play in bringing about particular immigration policies. It follows the “family of nations” concept in comparative policy research (F. Castles) and argues that the interplay of nation building, religious traditions and church-state-relations affect churches' role in the making of immigration policy. This role signifies a disjuncture between the countries' general patterns of religious traditions and immigration policies on the one hand, and the actual policy positions and effects of churches on the other.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Michael Minkenberg. E-mail:


Hide All
Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, and Klusmeyer, Douglas, eds. 2000. From Migrants to Citizens: Membership in a Changing World. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, and Klusmeyer, Douglas, eds. 2001. Citizenship Today: Global Perspectives and Practices. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, and Klusmeyer, Douglas, eds. 2002. Citizenship Policies for an Age of Migration. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Alesina, Alberto, Devleeschauwer, Arnaud, Easterly, William, Kurlat, Sergio, and Wacziarg, Romain. 2003. “Fractionalization.” Journal of Economic Growth 82:219–58.
Almond, Gabriel A., and Powell, G. Bingham Jr. 1978. Comparative Politics. System, Process, and Policy. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.
Anderson, John. 2003. Religious Liberty in Transitional Societies. The Politics of Religion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Bader, Veit, ed. 2007. “Governing Islam in Western Europe. Essays of Governance of Religious Diversity.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33:8711016.
Baldwin-Edwards, Martin. 1992. “Immigration after 1992.” Policy and Politics 19:199211.
Barrett, David, Kurian, George, and Johnson, Todd, eds. 2001. World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religion. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Barwig, Klaus. 1999. “Nur ein Übergangsmodell? Eine Bilanz zur Reform des deutschen Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (Only a transition model? The balance of the reform of the German nationality code).” Herder Korrespondenz 53:345–50.
Beck, Ulrich. 1986. Risikogesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne (Risk Society. Towards Another Modernity). Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Suhrkamp.
Beyer, Peter, and Beaman, Lori, eds. 2007. Religion, Globalization, and Culture. Boston, MA: Brill.
Bouma, Gary. 2006. Australian Soul. Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-first Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Bowden, John, ed. 2005. Encyclopedia of Christianity. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Breward, Ian. 2001. A History of the Churches in Australasia. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Brubaker, Rogers. 1992. Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Bruce, Steve. 2000. Fundamentalism. Oxford, UK: Polity Press.
Bruce, Steve. 1996. Religion in the Modern world. From Cathedrals to Cults. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Bruce, Steve. 2002. God is Dead. Secularization in the West. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Bruce, Steve. 2003. Politics and Religion. Oxford, UK: Polity.
Buos, Constance de. 2004. “Les chrétiens avec les sans-papier (The Christians with the Undocumented).” La Croix, July 7.
Burdick, Laura, and Chenoweth, Jeff. 2007. A More Perfect Union. A National Citizenship Plan. Washington, D.C.: Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
Cahill, Desmond, Bouma, Gary, Dellal, Hass, and Leahy, Michael. 2004. Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia.
Castles, Francis, ed. 1993. Families of Nations. Patterns of Public Policy in Western Democracies. Aldershot, UK: Dartmouth.
Castles, Francis. 1998. Patterns of Public Policy. Patterns of Post-War Transformation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Chaves, Mark, and Cann, David E.. 1992. “Regulation, Pluralism, and Religious Market Structure.” Rationality and Society 4:272–90.
Christiansen, Drew. 1996. “Movement, Asylum, Borders: Christian Perspectives.” International Migration Review 30:717.
Church of England. 2001. “Bishops Respond to Home Secretary's Asylum Proposals.” (Accessed February 15, 2007).
Church of England, Board for Social Responsibility. 2002. Secure Borders, Safe Haven – Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain. London, UK: Church House.
Church of England, Mission and Public Affairs Council. 2005: A place of Refuge. A Positive Approach to Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK. London, UK: Church House Publishing.
Church of England. 2000. “Party Leaders Assure Church Delegations on Racism in Politics.” (Accessed February 15, 2007).
Conférence des évêques de France, Commission sociale des Evêques. 2002. Accueillir les demandeurs l'asile. Déclaration de la Conférence des évêques de France sur le droit d'asile (Welcoming the Asylum Seekers. Declaration of the Bishops' Conference of France on the Right to Asylum). Paris, France: Bishops' Conference.
Cooperman, Alan. 2006. “Letter on Immigration Deepens Split Among Evangelicals.” The Washington Post, April 5, A4.
Cornelius, Wayne A., Martin, Philip L., and Hollifield, James F., eds. 1994. Controlling Immigration. A Global Perspective. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Costes, André. 1988. “L'Eglise catholique dans le débat sur l'immigration (The Catholic Church in the Immigration Debate).” Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales 4:2948.
Dalton, Russell J. 1996. Citizen Politics. Chatham, UK: Chatham House Publishers.
Davie, Grace. 2000. Religion in Modern Europe: A Memory Mutates. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Ecclestone, Giles. 1985. “The General Synod and Politics.” In Church and Politics Today: Essays on the Role of the Church of England in Contemporary Politics, ed. Moyser, George. Edinburgh, UK: T. & T. Clark. Ltd, 107–27.
Enzinger, Han. 2000. “The Dynamics of Integration Policies: A Multidimensional Model.” In Challenging Immigration and Ethnic Relations Politics, eds. Koopmans, Ruud, and Statham, Paul. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 97118.
Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Fetzer, Joel, and Soper, J. Christopher. 2005. Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Fetzer, Joel. 2006. “Why Did House Members Vote for H.R. 4437?International Migration Review 40:698706.
Gaulmyn, Isabelle de. 2004. “L'Eglise et l'accueil des sans-Papiers (The Church and the Welcoming of the Undocumented).” La Croix, June 16.
Geddes, Andrew. 1999. “The Development of EU Immigration Policy: Supranationalisation and the Politics of Belonging.” In The Politics of Belonging: Migrants and Minorities in Contemporary Europe, eds. Geddes, Andrew, and Favell, Adrian. Aldersho, UK: Ashgate, 176–91.
Gillis, Chester. 2003. “American Catholics. Neither out Far nor in Deep.” In Religion and Immigration. Christian, Jewish and Muslim Experiences in the United States, eds. Yazbeck Haddad, Yvonne, Smith, Jane, and Esposito, John L.. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 3351.
Gimpel, James G., and Edwards, James R. Jr. 1999. The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Gustafsson, Göran. 2003. “Church-State Separation – Swedish Style.” In Church and State in Contemporary Europe: The Chimera of Neutrality, eds. Madeley, John and Enyedi, Zolt. London, UK: Routledge, 5172.
Hammar, Tomas, ed. 1985. European Immigration Policy. A Comparative Study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hammar, Tomas. 1990. Democracy and the Nation State. Aliens, Denizens, and Citizens in a World of International Migration. Aldershot, UK: Avebury.
Hammar, Tomas. 2003. “Einwanderung in einen skandinavischen Wohlfahrtsstaat: die schwedische Erfahrung (Immigration into a Scandinavian Welfare State: The Swedish Experience).” In Migration im Spannungsfeld von Globalisierung und Nationalstaat, eds. Dietrich, Thränhardt and Hunger, Uwe. Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag, 227252.
Hanley, David. 2003. “Die Zukunft der europäischen Christdemokratie (The Future of the European Christian Democracy).” In Politik und Religion, eds. Minkenberg, Michael and Willems, Ulrich. Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag, 231255.
Haynes, Jeff. 1998. Religion in Global Politics. London, UK: Longman.
Heinelt, Hubert. 1994. “Zuwanderungspolitik in Europa. Nationale Politiken – Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede (Immigration Policy in Europe. National Politics – Commonalities and Differences).” In Zuwanderungspolitik in Europa. Nationale Politiken – Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede, ed. Heinelt, Hubert. Opladen, Germany: Leske + Budrich, 732.
Hollifield, James F. 1997. L'immigration et l'état nation à la recherche d'un modèle national (Immigration and the Nation State in Search of a National Model). Paris, France: L'Harmattan.
Hollifield, James F. 1998. “Migration, Trade and the Nation-State: The Myth of Globalization.” UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs 3:595636.
Huber, Wolfgang, 2001: Kein Mensch ist illegal – Der Auftrag der Kirchen gegenüber Menschen ohne Aufenthaltsstatus (No Human Being Is Illegal – The Mission of the Churches Concerning People Without a Residence Permit). Lecture on July 9 2001 at the Free University Berlin.
Iannaccone, Laurence. 1991. “The Consequences of Religious Market Structure. Adam Smith and the Economics of Religion.” Rationality and Society 3:156–77.
Inglehart, Ronald, and Baker, Wayne E.. 2000. “Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values.” American Sociological Review 65:1951.
Inglehart, Ronald, and Minkenberg, Michael. 2000. “Die Transformation religiöser Werte in entwickelten Industriegesellschaften. (The Transformation of Religious Values in Advanced Industrial Societies)” In Religion und Politik – zwischen Universalismus und Partikularismus, eds. Meyer, Heinz-Dieter, Minkenberg, Michael, and Ostner, Ilona, Vol. 2. Opladen, Germany: Leske + Budrich. 115–30.
Inglehart, Ronald. 1997. Modernization and Postmodernization. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Joppke, Christian. 1999. Immigration and the Nation-State. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Kastoryano, Riva. 2002. Negotiating Identities. States and Immigrants in France and Germany. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
Kock, Manfred. 2001. Bitte einwandern! Für einen Perspektivwechsel in der Politik (Please Immigrate! For a Change of Perspective in Politics). Statement beim Forum Migration: Leben in der bunten Republik – DEKT Frankfurt/Main.
Koopmans, Ruud, Statham, Paul, Giugni, Marco, and Passy, Florence. 2005. Contested Citizenship. Immigration and Cultural Diversity in Europe. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Kymlicka, Will, and Norman, Wayne, eds. 2000. Citizenship in Diverse Societies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Lijphart, Arend, 1999. Patterns of Democracy. Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Mahony, Roger. 2006. “Called by God to Help.” The New York Times, March 22.
Mallmann, Yves de. 2004. “De Saint-Ambroise à Saint-Bernard.” (Accessed March 2008).
Manow, Philip. 2002. “‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.’ Esping-Andersens Sozialstaats-Typologie und die konfessionellen Wurzeln des westliches Wohlfahrtsstaats.” Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 54:203–25.
Maréchal, Brigitte, and Dassetto, Felice. 2003. “Introduction: From Past to Present.” In Muslims in the Enlarged Europe. Religion and Society, eds. Maréchal, Brigitte, Allievi, Stefano, Dassetto, Felice, and Jørgen, Nielsen. Leiden, Germany: Brill, xviixxvii.
Martin, David. 1978. A General Theory of Secularisation. London, UK: Blackwell.
Mavrogordatos, George. 2003. “Orthodoxy and Nationalism in the Greek Case.” In Church and State in Contemporary Europe: The Chimera of Neutrality, eds. Madeley, John and Enyedi, Zolt. London, UK: Routledge, 117–36.
McGoldrick, Terence. 1998. “Episcopal Conferences Worldwide on Catholic Social Teaching.” Theological Studies 59:2250.
Minkenberg, Michael. 2004. “Religious Effects on the Shaping of Immigration Policy in Western Democracies. Presented at the ECPR 32nd Joint Session of Workshops, Uppsala.
Minkenberg, Michael. 1990. Neokonservatismus und Neue Rechte in den USA (Neoconservatism and the New Right in the USA). Baden-Baden, Germany: Nomos.
Minkenberg, Michael. 2002. “Religion and Public Policy. Institutional, Cultural, and Political Impact on the Shaping of Abortion Policies in Western Democracies.” Comparative Political Studies 35:221–47.
Minkenberg, Michael. 2003a. “The Policy Impact of Church-State Relations: Family Policy and Abortion in Britain, France and Germany.” In Church and State in Contemporary Europe: The Chimera of Neutrality, eds. Madeley, John and Zolt, Enyedi. London, UK: Routledge, 195217.
Minkenberg, Michael. 2003b. “Staat und Kirche in westlichen Demokratien (State and Church in Western Democracies).” In Politik und Religion, eds. Minkenberg, Michael and Willems, Ulrich. Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag, 115–38.
Minkenberg, Michael. 2003c. “The Politics of Citizenship in the New Republic.” In Germany: Beyond the Stable State, eds. Kitschelt, Herbert, and Streeck, Wolfgang. London, UK: Routledge. 219240.
Minkenberg, Michael. 2008. “Religious Legacies and the Politics of Multiculturalism: A Convergence of Integration Policies in Western Democracies?” In Immigration, Integration and Human Security Issues, eds. d'Appolonia, Simon Reichand Chebel. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Modood, Tariq, ed. 1997. Church, State, and Religious Minorities. London, UK: Policy Studies Institute.
Monsma, Steven J., and Soper, J. Christopher. 1997. The Challenge of Pluralism. Church and State in Five Democracies. Lanham, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.
Mooney, Margarita. 2006. “The Catholic Bishops Conferences of the US and France: Engaging Immigration as a Public Issues.” American Behavioral Scientist 49:1455–70.
National Association of Evangelicals. 1995. Compassion for Immigrants and Refugees. Washington, D.C.
National Association of Evangelicals. 2000. Refugee Protection and Care. Washington, D.C.
Nelson, Barbara. 1998. “Public Policy and Administration: An Overview.” In A New Handbook of Political Science, eds. Goodin, R.E., and Klingemann, H.D.. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 551–92.
Noll, Mark. 2002. The Old Religion in a New World: The History of North American Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Ragin, Charles. 1987. Comparative Political Analysis: Bridging the Qualitative and Quantative Divide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rat der, E.K.D., Deutsche Bischofskonferenz/Mitglieds- und Gastkirchen der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen. 1998: … und der Fremdling, der in deinen Toren ist. Gemeinsames Wort der Kirchen zu den Herausforderungen durch Migration und Flucht (… and the Stranger Who is at Your Door. Joint Statement of the Churches on the Challenges of Migration and Flight). Bonn/Frankfurt am Main/Hannover: EKD, Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen.
Robertson, Roland and Garrett, William R., eds. 1991. Religion and Global Order. New York, NY: Paragon House.
Sandersfeld, Corina. 2002. “Union und Kirchen zum Thema Zuwanderung (Union and Churches on the immigration Topic).” Stimmen der Zeit, 220/127:492–96.
Soysal, Yasemin N. 1994. Limits of Citizenship. Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Tassel, Fabrice. 2006. “Croisade contre la loi Sarkozy sur l'immigration (Crusade against the Sarkozy Law on Immigration).” Libération, April 22.
Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Thränhardt, Dietrich, and Hunger, Uwe, eds. 2003. Migration im Spannungsfeld von Globalisierung und Nationalstaat (The Nation State as Actor in Migration Politics). Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag.
Thränhardt, Dietrich. 2003. “Der Nationalstaat als migrationspolitischer Akteur (Migration between Globalization and Nation State).” In Migration im Spannungsfeld von Globalisierung und Nationalstaat, eds. Thränhardt, Dietrich and Hunger, Uwe. Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag. 831.
Van Amersfoort, Hans, and van Niekerk, Mies. 2003. “Einwanderung als koloniales Erbe: Akzeptanz, Nichtakzeptanz und Integration in den Niederlanden (Immigration as Colonial Legacies: Acceptance, Non-acceptance and Integration in the Netherlands).” In Migration im Spannungsfeld von Globalisierung und Nationalstaat, eds. Thränhardt, Dietrich, and Hunger, Uwe. Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag, 135–60.
Van Kersbergen, Kees. 1995. Social Capitalism. A Study of Christian Democracy and the Welfare State. London, UK: Routledge.
Von Beyme, Klaus. 1984. Parteien in westlichen Demokratien (Parties in Western Democracies). München, Germany: Piper.
Von Beyme, Klaus. 1999. Die parlamentarische Demokratie. Entstehung und Funktionsweise 1789–1999 (Parliamentary Democracy. Genesis and Functioning 1789–1999). Wiesbaden, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag.
Wald, Kenneth. 2003. Religion and Politics in the United States. Washington, DC. CQ Press.
Weil, Patrick. 1991. La France et ses étrangers. L'aventure d'une politique d'immigration 1938–1991 (France and Her Foreigners: The Adventure of Immigration Politics 1938–1991). Paris, France: Calman-Lévy.
Weil, Patrick. 2001. “Zugang zur Staatsbürgerschaft. Ein Vergleich von 25 Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetzen. (Access to Citizenship. A Comparison of 25 Nationality Codes)” In Staatsbürgerschaft in Europa. Historische Erfahrungen und aktuelle Debatten, eds. Conrad, Christoph and Kocka, Jürgen. Hamburg, Germany: Körber Stiftung. 92111.
Weil, Patrick. 2002. Qu'est-ce qu'un Français? Histoire de la nationalité française depuis la Révolution (What is a Frenchman? History of the French Nationality Code science the Revolution). Paris, France: Grasset.
Weltalmanach, Fischer. 2004. Der Fischer Weltalmanach 2005. Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Fischer Verlag.
Whyte, John H. 1981. Catholics in Western Democracies. A Study in Political Behavior. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.
Wilensky, Harold. 2002. Rich Democracies. Political Economy, Public Policy and Performance. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Winkelmann, Rainer. 2001. Immigration policies and their Impact : The Case of New Zealand and Australia. In International Migration: Trends, Policies and Economic Impact, ed. Djajić, Slobodan. London, UK: Routledge. 120.
Wong, Carolyn. 2006. Lobbying for Inclusion. Rights Politics and the Making of Immigration Policy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
World Relief. 2005. “Interfaith Statement in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” (Accessed March 4, 2007).


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed