Senior Fellow Spotlight – Dr. Tobias Cremer

Senior Fellow Spotlight – Dr. Tobias Cremer 

“I regularly hear people ask, Where are our Bonhoeffers for today? TDBI is always on the lookout for them: brilliant, insightful, morally courageous leaders who are meeting the ethical challenges and human crises of our time. And we’ve found one in our Senior Fellow, Tobias Cremer of Pembroke College, Oxford University!”

-TDBI President and Founder, Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck

This week, as we pause for various Holocaust remembrance observances, religious communities, survivors and their descendants, and all people of conscience decry that incomparable crime against humanity and resolve ourselves never to let it happen again. At The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, we remember we likely would never have had the Bonhoeffer we know today had Hitler’s genocide not stirred him to action.


TDBI’s cohort of Senior Fellows is a diverse group of courageous leaders stirred to thought and action by our contemporary crises, one of whom is the esteemed professor and researcher, Dr. Tobias Cremer. Tobias is German by birth and upbringing and comes from a long line of clergy, including his mother, who retired after 38 years as a pastor in Bochum. Besides his numerous academic and professional accomplishments, Dr. Cremer has another connection to the Bonhoeffer legacy – his great grandfather on his mother’s side was a member of the Confessing Church movement, which theologically opposed the Nazi Party’s attempt to co-opt the German Evangelical Church. Tobias’s forebear escaped capture, and likely, death, by hiding in the forest before allied troops rescued him. With his work exposing the current dangers of resurgent religious nationalism and political populism—Tobias reminds us that there are, and will always be, Bonhoeffers.

Tobias Cremer is a Junior Research Fellow in Religion and the Frontier Challenges at Pembroke College Oxford and a stipendiary lecturer in Politics at Wadham College Oxford. His research focuses on the relationship between religion, secularization and the rise of right-wing identity politics throughout western societies.

In his doctoral research (University of Cambridge, funded by the ESRC) Tobias explored how right-wing populist movements in Germany, France and the United States employ Christianity as a cultural identity marker, and how believers and church authorities are reacting to such references. Cremer holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, a MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was a McCloy Fellow, an MPhil in Politics and International Studies from Cambridge University, and a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Sciences Po Paris. Across his career, he has worked in the German Parliament, the German Federal Foreign Office, and in management consulting.



In his conversation with Rev. Rob Schenck, Dr. Cremer talks about his exposure to religious nationalism and how it has manifested itself in the United States and beyond.


“A problem defined is a problem half solved,” says the adage and Dr. Tobias Cremer helps us get at least that far toward resolving the very real threat of a country in the grips of Christian Nationalism.


Listen to this episode!

In this exclusive presentation for the TDBI community, Dr. Cremer defines and discusses the current state of Christian Nationalism here in the US and abroad.

Recent Publications by Tobias Cremer: 

The Capitol Storming Epitomizes the Shift from a Religious to Post-Religious Right“In this movement, participants do not embrace Christianity as the living, vibrant, universal, and increasingly diverse faith in Jesus Christ that the overwhelming majority of America’s churches practice today. Instead, the extreme form of secularized Christianism as a symbol of a white and masculine past was on display on January 6.”

Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy

In Faith, Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Democracy, David Elcott, C. Colt Anderson, Tobias Cremer, and Volker Haarmann present a pragmatic and modernist exploration of how religion engages in the public square. Elcott and his co-authors are concerned about the ways religious identity is being used to foster the exclusion of individuals and communities from citizenship, political representation, and a role in determining public policy.

Council on Foreign Relations Webinar: Religion and Populism in the United States and Europe

The University of Birmingham’s Jocelyne Cesari and Pembroke College, Oxford’s Tobias Cremer discuss the relationship between religion and populism, and how this relationship is affecting the politics of Europe and the United States.