|11 organisations (2014)|
The European Congress of Ethnic Religions (ECER) is an organisation for cooperation among associations that promote the ethnic religions of Europe. The primary goal of the ECER is the strengthening of pre-Christian religious traditions of Europe, emphasizing and fostering their ties with modern pagan movements.
A "World Pagan Congress" was hosted in June 1998 in Vilnius, Lithuania, organized by Jonas Trinkūnas of Romuva, a Lithuanian neopagan organization. It was attended by members from a number of neopagan organizations from Europe and North America, as well as observers from the academic field. At the meeting it was decided to make the congress an annual event and to form an organization around it.
The organization's name was the result of a day-long passionate debate. The words "pagan" and "heathen" were rejected because of their perceived cultural associations with immorality, violence and backwardness. The word "polytheistic" was also rejected as an oversimplification. "Indigenous" was seen as satisfactory on a linguistic level, but was voted down with regard to its established use by groups distinguished from European colonizers. Other suggestions were terms along the lines of "old religion" and "ancestral religion". "Ethnic", the Greek equivalent to the Latin paganus in early Christian sources, was eventually agreed on. The word's history and the connection to ethnology were things that appealed to the majority of the participants.
To avoid misunderstandings, the founding declaration of the organization makes clear that ethnic here does not refer to ethnic politics. The founding member Denis Dornoy also clarified this in the organization's newsletter The Oaks in 1999:
Is ethnic connected with ethnic cleansing? Is it another pure race ideology? Do you have to belong to a long-lost people to be ethnic? Isn't ethnic a subject for white-haired academics? Ethnic is none of the above, and its meaning is far simpler. Ethnos is Greek, meaning people, and ethnic means related to a particular people, i.e., anything that defines a people: its language, customs, daily behaviour, food ... or spiritual outlook. We call this last point ethnic religion. It is a set of traditions, worship, way of life, related to a people. It often, but not always, involves ancestor worship. Sometimes it is so integrated into everyday life that it cannot even be called "religion" (i.e., belief) according to Western standards.
The congress was held under the name "World Congress of Ethnic Religions" from 1999 to 2010. The 2006 and 2009 conferences were held in India, in the spirit of collaboration between Western Neopaganism and Hinduism. The intention of a worldwide scope was "more of a dream than reality", as the congress mostly consisted of representatives of neopagan movements in Europe. To reflect this, the organization was renamed "European Congress of Ethnic Religions" in 2010. The congress was an annual event until 2010, and has since then been held once every two years.
ECER's website defines the scope of the organization: "By Ethnic Religion, we mean religion, spirituality, and cosmology that is firmly grounded in a particular people's traditions. In our view, this does not include modern occult or ariosophic theories/ideologies, nor syncretic neo-religions."
The current president of the organization is Andras Corban-Arthen.
Member organizations represent Baltic, Slavic, Germanic, Greek, and Roman traditions. As of 2014 the member organizations of ECER are:
|2001||Vilnius, Lithuania||with delegates from the Vishva Hindu Parishad|
|2003||Vilnius, Lithuania||"Global Initiatives for Ethnic Cultures and Religions"|
|2004||Athens, Greece||"The High Values Of The Pre-Christian Ethnic Traditions and Religions"|
|2005||Antwerp, Flanders||"Spirituality and Tradition in an Anti-Traditional World"|
|2006||Jaipur, India||"Spirituality Beyond Religions"|
in cooperation with the International Centre of Cultural Studies and the
World Congress of Elders of Ancient Cultures and Traditions
|2007||Riga-Jūrmala-Sigulda, Latvia||"The Spirit Will See New Light in the Turn of Ages"|
|2010||Bologna, Italy||"Ethics in Contemporary World"|
|2012||Odense, Denmark||“What can Ethnic religions do for Europe – and what can Europe do for the Ethnic religions”|
|2016||Prague, Czech Republic|