Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Religion in society - pick two out of three?

by Migeru Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:23:28 AM EST

In the context of the second saga-length thread about religion, I pointed out that

secularism, separation of church and state, and freedom of conscience are three separate concepts.

I was of the opinion that, by and large, the US had freedom of conscience and separation of church and state, but it wasn't a secular society; on the other hand, Europe tends to have freedom of conscience and a secular society but no separation of church and state.

Is this one of those cases where you can pick two out of three?

A third mode is where you have a secular society and no state church, but also no freedom of conscience (the "compulsory atheism" of "real existing socialism" in the erstwhile Soviet bloc).

Eurogreen commented that maybe France is an example where the three features coexist.

And I am just now wondering whether the classification extends outside of Western (i.e. Mesopotamian) civilization. How about the Chinese and Hindu cultural matrices?


Display:
Presumably he means the French part of France. In Alsace-Moselle there is no such separation, with the old German law still applicable (I think to the point of the German text being the binding version).
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:50:13 AM EST
Yes, I pointed out in the previous thread that priests are still on the government payroll there; this being a historical oddity (there are also differences in the social welfare regime) related to repeated 19th and 20th century border adjustment. In general I'm all in favour of colourful regional specificities, but if the 21st century turns out to be religious, as Malraux allegedly predicted, then it's more of a worrying precedent.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:16:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain, the government pays "religion" [Catholic, of course] teachers' wages in the public school system, but the Conference of Bishops hires and fires them.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But this is a result of the existence of a "Concordat" between "the Spanish State" and "the Vatican State".

It's slightly alien to the concepts of "secularization", "secular society (or non denominational policy)" and "freedom of conscience".

by PerCLupi on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Concordat is the typical form European Catholic countries' lack of separation between Church and State takes.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 01:54:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't talk about the "French part of France" in Alsace-Moselle. People there feel French, have fought to be French, and don't like it when it looks like they are being called traitors and inferior citizens as their Frenchness is somehow contested...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:00:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't usually talk like that, but since I was specifically referring to the fact that they still have German laws, it seemed appropriate. If they feel so strongly about it, why don't they adopt French laws?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best of two worlds.

After the first world war there demands of autonomy in alsace. French but different. They had a certain degree of autonomy in the late german period.

There was also this after the second world war:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malgré-nous

Now that has abated because of the passage of time and the general decentralisation of France.

by IM on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:23:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is actually a wikipedia article on this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_law_in_Alsace-Moselle

by IM on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:26:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting that the main difference is that preserving the power of the church.

Now I can sit back and watch the rest of you add 500 comments....

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:37:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of Germany, the back-and-forth development with regards to the separation of state and church there has to do with multiple religions (or sects if you will). Bismarck's Prussia was dominated by Lutherans, and as Prussia and its power grew, there was conflict with the ever more Catholic subjects and, more importantly, the Vatican. So the separation of state and church was launched by the Lutherna conservative elite to curb the Vatican's influence (this was the original Kulturkampf). However, eventually, the Catholics won overhand on the conservative side (Hitler came from the Catholic south too), and their party, the Centre Party, which started as Bismarck's most potent opposition, was then the main root of the West German CDU, which did it best to lessen the separation of church and state.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:59:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
has not had a separation of church and state - indeed, they've always been deeply intertwined - but the state has had the upper hand in the relationship since the mid 8th century CE, when the tang dynasty broke the independence of the buddhist establishment.
by wu ming on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:47:36 AM EST
What of the last sixty years or so?

Visibly, monasteries, temples etc never died out, and seem to be in resurgence. But how are they funded? Was/is there a political commissar in every institution?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 05:44:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The conflict with the Catholic Church (a re-run of the Investiture Controversy) and with the Falun Gong sect is well known: the regime wants control over religious organisations.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that China's three biggest failed revolutions from the bottom were set off by religious movements: a Daoist sect in the case of the Yellow Turban Rebellion (which launched the fall of Han Dynasty China); the White Lotus Buddhist sect in the case of the Red Turban Rebellion against the Mongol overlords; a Christian cult in the case of the Taiping Rebellion. The Boxer Rebellion was also launched by a Daoist sect.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 10:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't you mean mid 9th century, 845 to be precise? And even if the Buddhists were more autonomous before, by and large, didn't the state have the upper hand already, with no faith/school of thought truly dominant?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:23:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran may an example of the phenomenom outside Western world. The number of people participating prayers has dropped during Islamic republic. Possibly state church creates anti-religious opposition on one hand and delegation of faith to the responsibility of the state on the other hand.
by Jute on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:49:13 AM EST
I tend to take the view that Persia and Islam are both part of the Mesopotamian cultural matrix which includes the "West", on the argument that seen from the Indian Subcontinent or from the Far East, the Iranians and the Americans are closer than either of them is to India or China.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:54:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Edward Said's  seminal book Orientalism refers to Arabic and Persian places for the most part as non-Western, so most social thinkers today follow his categorization and end the "West" at the Bosporus, or at most Kurdistan. Damascus is not considered part of the West, for example.
by santiago on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 10:05:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, but Christianity and (to a lesser extent) Judaism are considered western again.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 01:33:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More likely, advancing education and relative prosperity accompanies declining religious observance, independently of whether religion is state-sponsored or not. [numbers needed!]

Of course, heavy-handed state sponsorship may increase insincere observance as a social/political obligation, but ultimately that can only hollow out the religious aspect, just as compulsory Party membership in a one-party state kills political belief.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 05:42:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran is going backwards on education: Male-order education: Iran bars women from 77 university courses (RT.com, 21 August, 2012)

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the article underlines the progress made. This is a rearguard action by the reactionaries who are starting to realise that once you have mass education for women, it's hard to keep a completely male-dominated power structure.

As it's written up, it seems to be shaping as a civil rights issue, rather than a religious question, which is very encouraging.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 07:45:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in France, the State-Chruch link was most decisively broken because the big political battle of the 19th century was that of democrats (called républicains) vs the royalists, and the church was 100% on the side of the reactionary/royalists. So when democracy prevailed decisively in the last 19th century, the church was seriously taken down, and there is a 1905 law that formalises that explicitly.


Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:04:24 AM EST
I thought that secularism meant the separation of church and state. Thus, the state is (theoretically) blind to a person's religious convictions and an individual is therefore able to exercise freedom of conscience/observance.

In this the US still mostly adheres to this. Not perfectly nor without prejudice, but mostly you can recognise the intention.

Although the UK does favour certain religions, even granting some of them representation in the House of Lords (for goddess alone knows what reason), by and large, our laws are indifferent to religion even if it is as not as much as we like. I was very pleased to discover last year that I had not previously known that Michael Howard (Tory leader 2003-5) was jewish, as it had been something of such little consideration to his position that it had never been mentioned.

Only Blair made a point of letting us know he was religious, just so he could then let us know he "didn't do god".

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 07:54:31 AM EST
Living in the US for 4 years convinced me that no, the US is not a secular society because religiosity permeates public life. However, European countries by and large don't have separation of Church and State, with most countries having a state-sanctioned church.

The problem of wars of religion was resolved differently on either side of the atlantic centuries ago. On this side, religiosity becomes a private matter which is allowed to coexist with an official church. On the other side, people wear their religion on their sleeve, which is incompatible with the state favouring one religion over the others.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:29:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Echoing Helen, how do you define "secularism"? I always thought it's about separation of church and state, too, and that view seems to have dominated among editors of the linked Wikipedia article, too. Do you mean the private choice of living a non-religious life, like not going to Sunday mass and not marrying?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I interpret secularism as keeping religion to the private sphere and largely out of the public sphere.

In any case, making such a distinction between secularism and separation of church and state is my way to articulate the difference between the US and Europe.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In what way do our churches which aren't separated from states keep out of the public sphere? Religious education at public schools, for example, are very much in the public sphere IMO. Or do you only mean the attitude of idividuals?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:04:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religious education is a case of lack of separation of church and state. But religion is kept out of the non-religious subjects in schools, by and large. Public schools are secular - that is why there is a market for religious private schools.

I also meen the attitude of both politicians and religious leaders. In Europe politicians are supposed to keep their religion private and Bishops are supposed to be nonpolitical. The opposite of the US where politicians sound like preachers and preachers are political.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Public schools are secular - that is why there is a market for religious private schools.

There are levels of indoctrination (and private schools, religious or not, also can have the exclusivity and eliteness factor). In a country without religious education in public schools, indoctrination is a wider motivator, in countries with religious education in public schools, it's a motivation for fundamentalists only.

I also meen the attitude of both politicians and religious leaders.

That's part of the separation of church and state, isn't it?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:31:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess separation of church and state is an institutional/legal feature. The way the people with the institutional jobs carry themselves isn't necessarily, but that doesn't make it illegal. It does make it frowned upon by the public be it when it mixes politics and religion (in Europe) or when it doesn't (in the US).

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also meen the attitude of both politicians and religious leaders.

That's part of the separation of church and state, isn't it?

No. You can have very strong separation of church and state and at the same time have very explicitly religious - even theocratic - political leaders. It just requires that you have a strong tradition of independent judicial review, so the theocratic politicians can't make overtly theocratic laws without getting them slapped down in court.

Then you get entertaining legal proceedings like the Dover Panda Trial and eccentric pseudolegal/pseudoscientific positions like Intelligent Design Creationism.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Secularism presumably means informal separation between church and state, where the formal version means the distinction is constitutional and explicit.

I'd suggest it's a grey area in practice, because of the influence religions have over voting patterns - very obviously in the US, perhaps less overtly in parts of Europe.

The only technically secular cultures were the communist ones. But I think there's a good case to be made for the suggestion that replacing religion with messianic secular ideology isn't necessarily an improvement.

Which in turn suggests that West isn't secular at all, because most countries follow a subtly messianic creed called Liberal Capitalism.

This creates the useful illusion of Freedom of Conscience while disguising a reality that enforces strict conformity.

Aside from a brief heretical digression into Social Democracy, Liberal Capitalism has defined public, private and state values for more than a century in the UK. And the links between politics and policy aren't just strong, they're incestuous.

The danger is that many atheists believing they're fighting the good fight (sic) by taking a pop at Christianity and Islam, but calling out Liberal Capitalism as a fairy story at least as silly as any other remains taboo and off the media radar.

It's acceptable to criticise individual policy decisions and institutions. But criticising the entire edifice is a fringe activity by cranks and heretics - even though practically, LC is currently far more destructive to Western social morality and well-being than any of the mainstream religions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 10:19:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a big religious and a big secular population. The secular population does not punish politicians at the ballot box for talking god, the religious population does punish politicians at the ballot box for talking god, so politicians by and large talk god unless they are in a position where the hit at the ballot box doesn't hurt.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:50:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
typo: ... the religious population does punish politicians at the ballot box for not talking god ...


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:39:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US makes the president swear on the bible. That's not hugely secular.
Also, it's mostly fine with whatever religion you have, provided you have one. It makes children pray to the flag.

No, I don't call that a secular country.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:36:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just that. Political speech is full of religious language. It's expected to be. The President is the High Priest. That's simply not the case in Europe, where explicitly religious political language is frowned upon.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:39:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is kind of a regression, since the motto "In God We Trust" on the dollar and the relevant line in the Pledge of Allegiance was added during the Cold War.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:42:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"In God We Trust" was on US coins long before the "cold war".

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 12:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, so coins excepted:

In God we trust - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In God we trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782.[1][2]

In God we trust has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864[3] and on paper currency since 1957.[4]

Following the link on coins, I find the history behind it was an earlier degression:

History of 'In God We Trust'

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins...

It was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. In December 1863, the Director of the Mint submitted designs for new one-cent coin, two-cent coin, and three-cent coin to Secretary Chase for approval. He proposed that upon the designs either OUR COUNTRY; OUR GOD or GOD, OUR TRUST should appear as a motto on the coins...

The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

...The use of IN GOD WE TRUST has not been uninterrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938. Since 1938, all United States coins bear the inscription. Later, the motto was found missing from the new design of the double-eagle gold coin and the eagle gold coin shortly after they appeared in 1907. In response to a general demand, Congress ordered it restored, and the Act of May 18, 1908, made it mandatory on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. IN GOD WE TRUST was not mandatory on the one-cent coin and five-cent coin. It could be placed on them by the Secretary or the Mint Director with the Secretary's approval.

The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 04:00:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought it was originally a typo and that the Republicans now want to restore the original spelling: In Gold We Trust

:P

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 8th, 2012 at 04:13:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not required. Adams swore on a book of law. But he probably wouldn't get away with it today.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite: the oath of office is not an oath that has to be taken on a bible, but if someone who was or pretended to be religious elected to take the oath and not use their highest scripture to swear on, people would wonder in what way they wanted to break it without going to hell.

And to be elected President, one has to be religious or pretend to be, though many politicians are, of course, the "Easter and Christmas Day" kind of Christians.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:43:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What did Romney swear on?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He hasn't actually been elected yet.

Oh, you mean in the gubernatorial swearing in? The same bible his dad used to be sworn in as Governor of Michigan. Mormons don't have to be sworn in on a Book of the Mormon, its taken as an addition to the canon and not a complete canon on its own.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:19:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This
I was very pleased to discover last year that I had not previously known that Michael Howard (Tory leader 2003-5) was jewish, as it had been something of such little consideration to his position that it had never been mentioned.
is what I call secularity. In the US you always know what religion a politician is.

On the other hand, the UK has a state church, as do all the Lutheran countries in Northern Europe (Church of England, Church of Denmark...) all the Orthodox countries in Eastern Europe with their autocephalous churches, and all Catholic countries with their single (i.e., "catholic") supranational church tied to the states through Concordates. Germany, of course, resolved the 30 years' war by having two state churches. But nobody gives a fig what religion you are, unlike in the US, and even the bishops of the state church get in trouble with public opinion if they get too political, whereas in the US every politician is supposed to get religious.

There has to be a name for that difference. I choose to call it "secular" vs. "separation fo church and state". The naming convention is debatable, of course.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 09:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember that while separation of church and state in the US founding was similar to the Bismarkian secularism ~ denominations dominating different states thinking they were safer from being on the losing end if no establishment religion was allowed ~ there was also a strand in the separation of church and state which supported it as much to protect churches from the corrupting influence of being the state church as to protect the state from being dominated by religion.

There's a twin movement in weakening the religious hold on society under an establishment church, in that the establishment church works to undermine the strength of rival churches, and being the establishment church tends to weaken the appeal of the establishment church over the long term.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 01:56:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is also the point that a state church's ability to maintain ideological coherence suffers from the interpenetration of church and government bureaucracies. If it does single-issue advocacy the way it would if it were a fully independent organization, it risks being defeated and captured in internal bureaucratic battles in the government. And if it does not do single-issue advocacy, it loses internal cohesion and risks being captured piecemeal.

Unless, of course, the church takes marching orders from a hostile transnational corporation, as the Church of Happyology and parts of the Catholic Church do.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That not an "also", its part of one of the points originally arguing for the establishment clause of the Bill of Rights: that's part of the process of corruption in "protect churches from the corrupting influence of being the state church".

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a third prong to the twin movement in weakening the religious hold on society under an establishment church.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:36:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, if you count from one to three skipping two ... its a big chunk of the second prong.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 06:13:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Church of Sweden has by and large been seperated from the government over the last half century. I think Palme was the last minister of church and education, the tax authority took over the census register in the 80ies, in the 90ies the church elections was decoupled from the government elections. Finally, in the 00ies the church has had the last formal ties removed as well as been put on own economic footing with the government subsidies being open for all registered religions (naturally there are conditions that to this day keeps the Kopimists from gaining state funding while the Church of Sweden as well as smaller christian, moslem and jewish denominations receive them). Also, school ceremonies has moved out of the church tough there are still some fighting going on there.

So by your criteria Sweden largely fill them all right now.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 02:33:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the indications I've picked up are that the final step of formally separating the church was a bad idea.

When the priests get paid for being inoffensive rather than for getting bums in the pews, they tend to have less incentive to rile up the easily excitable and create social fault lines to use in mobilization.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:41:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Counterexample: Israel
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But those are not comparable. In the Swedish case we're talking about a largely or totally defanged church: One which had been gradually but systematically stripped of its privileges and authority.

I'd suggest that forcing such a church into a Darwinian struggle for survival on the free market is likely to see it achieve a net gain in influence. Partly because the easiest marketing strategy for a newly privatized church is to polarize society along some formerly dormant fault line. And partly because having to secure cash flow from the customers will trim away employees who are, from a cash flow perspective, dead wood. This creates an incentive structure which encourages a smaller but more ideologically coherent - and more extremist - organizational structure.

The Israeli case is different, because religion was never properly defanged in the first place.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:14:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, polarizing positions on issues is likely to cause disaffection among passive parishioners. I understand there is a large plurality of "cultural christians" who remain affiliated with the Church in Sweden and pay their church tax, but could be motivated to de-register if offended.

So then the church would have to raise the tax rate for the faithful in order to break even.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 04:53:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is what a schism brand segmentation does for you. A major part of the advantage of a state church is that it prevents hardliners and milquetoasts from going their separate ways, thus incentivizing the milquetoasts to speak up against hardliners who offend their main customer demographic.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 05:09:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We do have the experience of the established church of England and the since a long time disestablished churches of Ireland and Wales.

The church of wales flourished more after disestablishment then before.

But as far as I understand both churches are as centrist as the CoE.

by IM on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anything particular in mind?

The church's main claim to relevance outside or inside of the state is performing the rituals of life - baptism, confirmations, weddings and funerals. And if anything the God bit has been more and more toned down over the years from my limited observations.

On the national level, the (now internal) church policies has afaik been going in the right direction and one woman was a hot candidate for archbishop last time around, though a man won again.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:53:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anything particular in mind?

Nothing big enough that I remember the details. Mostly Danish preacher men who used the Swedish example as a case for the separation of church and state, because it allowed the church to position itself more clearly in issues of relevance to the parishioners (read: Preach politics from the pulpit).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:16:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's seen as "tradition", "a job" etc.

Here's a famous quote from a Swedish 1962 revue, considered somewhat scandalous at the time: "He's a good representative for the Church of Sweden - he has no strong opinion about anything."


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 11:26:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Convenient State | The American Conservative

Thus freedom became an assertion of the individual's right to pursue his own vision, and liberty became a prior demand for all human speculation or education. This demand did not lessen as the Hellenic world spread and was transmuted by Christianity. In fact, the Christian emphasis on the individual soul's worth, and its otherworldly goal, deepened the cleavage between man and the religious state. The Christian recognizes a divided loyalty, giving to Caesar what is Caesar's, but to God the inestimably vaster reaches of the soul that belong to God.

But if the state's order is no longer, in the Greek world, coextensive with man's attempt to order his private world, what role is government to play? Where does the supremacy of the private person find its frontier, or verge on other claims? How do the sacred areas of each man's individuality meet and adjust to each other? It is this question that has put the problem of freedom at the center of Western political dispute. And, in a kind of slovenly philosophical shorthand, this problem has been cast as a search for the amount of freedom man is to enjoy. But the problem is that the Greek world introduced an entirely new conception of human life, one still novel today, a conception that runs into contradiction if pushed by a ruthless logic. The autonomy of the individual, the fight against tradition, seem to make government at worst a causeless evil, at best a necessary evil. But experience has taught that a "freedom" which travels down the road of anarchy is never seen again. Thus the problem of the Western world has been to find a new kind of order to act as a foundation for its fugitive new kind of freedom. Many attempts at the solution of this problem have been short-lived because they did not come to grips  with the particular kind of freedom-with its almost impossible demands-that the West has chosen to pursue. The attempts which remain in the central line of Western experiment cluster into two main groups. These continuing schools of thought, or lines of approach, correspond in some degree with the popular division of political thinkers into liberal and conservative. I

I-religion...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 08:34:37 AM EST
is a professor of philosophy in civilian life :

Peillon veut le retour de la "morale laïque" à l'école - RTL.fr Peillon wants the return of "secular morals" to schools- RTL.fr
"La laïcité, ce n'est pas la simple tolérance, ce n'est pas 'tout se vaut', c'est un ensemble de valeurs que nous devons partager". Le ministre de l'Éducation nationale, Vincent Peillon, entend bien remettre ces valeurs au centre de l'école. Une mission de réflexion sera ainsi installée à la rentrée et prendra "trois, quatre, cinq mois", pour "déboucher sur une refonte des programmes", a-t-il affirmé, ne cachant pas sa "très grande ambition" Insister sur le "vivre ensemble"Secularism is not simply tolerance, it is not 'anything goes' is a set of values ​​that we share." The Minister of National Education, Vincent Peillon, intends to put these values ​​at the center of the school. A mission of reflexion will be established in the autumn and take "three, four, five months," to "produce a redesign of programs," he affirmed, not hiding his "great ambition". Emphasize "living together"
L'enseignement de la "morale laïque" doit être harmonisé pour enseigner aux enfants les principes et comportements du "vivre ensemble", à l'issue d'une réflexion engagée à la demande du ministre de l'Education nationale, Vincent Peillon.
  
"Il y a eu beaucoup de petits dispositifs. Je veux créer un consensus car cela va très au delà du clivage gauche-droite", a-t-il expliqué mercredi lors de sa conférence de presse de rentrée.
  
La laïcité à l'école est régulièrement chahutée par diverses polémiques, comme celles des "mamans accompagnantes" voilées lors de sorties scolaires ou la question de la viande halal à la cantine.

Reconstruire du "commun" entre les enfants de France
The teaching of "secular morality" must be harmonized to teach children the principles and behaviors of "living together" , following a reflexion engaged at the request of the Minister of National Education, Vincent Peillon.
"There were a lot of small procedureses. I want to create consensus because goes well beyond the left-right divide" , he explained Wednesday at his Press Conference
Secular values at school are regularly called into question by controversies, for example like veiled mothers accompanying school trips or the issue of halal meat in school canteens.

Rebuilding the "common ground" between children
France
"La laïcité, ce n'est pas la simple tolérance, ce n'est pas 'tout se vaut', c'est un ensemble de valeurs que nous devons partager", a dit M. Peillon. "Pour les partager, il faut qu'elles nous soient enseignées et qu'elles soient apprises (...) Il faut reconstruire entre les enfants de France du commun", a ajouté cet agrégé de philosophie.Secularism is not simply tolerance, it is not 'anything goes' is a set of values ​​that we share." "To share them, they must be taught to us, learned (...) We must rebuild common ground between the children of France" added the minister, who is also a philosophy professor.
Dans un entretien au Journal du dimanche, le ministre fixe à la mission "trois objectifs: qu'il y ait une cohérence depuis le primaire jusqu'à la terminale, que cet enseignement soit évalué, qu'il trouve un véritable espace".

Pas de retour à "l'ordre moral"
In an interview with Journal du Dimanche, the minister fixed? mission "three objectives: there must be a coherence from primary up to the end of high school, that this teaching is evaluated, that it finds a genuine space."

No return to "Moral order"
Il souligne que la morale laïque ne doit pas s'apparenter à l'"ordre moral" ou à l'"instruction civique": "le but de la morale laïque est de permettre à chaque élève de s'émanciper, car le point de départ de la laïcité c'est le respect absolu de la liberté de conscience. Pour donner la liberté du choix, il faut être capable d'arracher l'élèves mais de trouver le fondement partagé qui peut être enseigné sans y porter atteinte".He emphasized that the morality? Should not that be similar to "moral order" "civics" : "The purpose of secular morality is to allow each student to be free, because the starting point of secular morality is absolute of Freedom of conscience. To give freedom of choice, we must be able to find the shared foundation that can be taught without compromising that freedom. "
Par ailleurs, sur la forme, "on ne peut pas enseigner la morale comme on enseigne une règle de grammaire", estime-t-il.
  
De fait, indique le ministère, la réflexion portera sur les modalités d'enseignement qui concernent tous les professeurs et toutes les disciplines et va "donc nécessairement poser la question de la formation des enseignants".
Moreover, the form, "you can not teach morality the same way you teache a general rule of grammar," said he.
In fact, according to the Minister, the reflexion will concern the methods of teaching, which will concern all teachers and all disciplines and therefore "necessarily the question of training teachers arises. "


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 10:53:00 AM EST
There is much semantic problem that must be clarified.
by PerCLupi on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 12:22:40 AM EST
New Zealand has all three.  We're a secular society, and people's imaginary friends do not feature strongly in our politics.  We have no official state religion (but a few vestiges, like an opening prayer in Parliament).  We have legal and real freedom of conscience.
by IdiotSavant on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:22:18 AM EST
But isn't your monarch required to be an Anglican?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 06:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I forgot that one!

The Swedish monarch is still required of being of the pure lutheran faith in accordnace with the Augsburg confession. Apparently it is the royals that are against striking that and for some reason the politicians accept that.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:00:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the house of bernadotte, defenders of the pure lutheran faith.

That is funny.

by IM on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They couldn't defend their way out of a wet paper bag.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 11:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is an interesting list of the best countries to be an atheist.

In Japan, it is tricky to think about separation of church and state, because those have not been merged together in the familiar (to us) ways in the first place. Yes, Buddhism was used as a spiritual training of samurais, WWII officers, and now of corporate management. And some ministers and parliament members savour stirring East Asian commotion by visiting the Yasukuni Shinto shrine. But that does not look like typical (for Abrahamic religions?) manipulation by faith, social pressure to conform or mass psychosis. Japan is historically a very hierarchic society - was it ruled without an ample assortment of fantastic stories? What role did natural isolation and hazards play?

by das monde on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:17:18 AM EST
Why isn't Estonia on this list?
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 07:34:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My guess: because the article is not based on a comparative study of all countries, but could rather be named "8 countries I've heard it is good to be an ateist in".

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 02:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then again, one could argue that Estonia has had enough Austerity™, one could make the case that it's not a good country to be in. Full stop.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 03:20:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That feels like a very strange thing to list. I've been lucky in where I've lived I guess.

Speaking of which, why isn't the Netherlands on the list? Yes, a strong religious and conservative segment, but I've worked with some of theme and I don't think they'd hold me back in my career or anything.
Any Dutch want to disagree?

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 11:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dutch non-religious majority might be in a similar situation as the social-democratic (at heart) majority: they are free to have their own view of the world, but politically, they are being marginalized silently.

Belgium is just as free in this respect, even if nominally catholic.

by das monde on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 11:49:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting. Thank you.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Sep 11th, 2012 at 05:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my own experience, people in Japan seem so completely and totally ignorant of any coherent form of religion that it is a complete non-presence in society.

As in, people are aware that there are monks and temples, but not really sure why, and they don't care.  It's common to be against killing bugs, but totally okay with eating meat, and totally unaware of the religious origin of their aversion.

Even those who are seriously into traditional festivals and ceremonies view them more as a hobby, something to do, than in any way that is recognizably religious.

by Zwackus on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 10:06:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think, a kind of faith is necessary in Japan when you want to climb the social ladder. Then you have to respect and trust a lot. This subtler kind of social control (typical for India perhaps as well) is being copied in the West nowadays at large, apparently.
.
by das monde on Sun Sep 9th, 2012 at 11:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do Americans claim to be more religious than they are? - Slate Magazine
In a more recent study, Hadaway estimated that if the number of Americans who told Gallup pollsters that they attended church in the last week were accurate, about 118 million Americans would be at houses of worship each week. By calculating the number of congregations (including non-Christian congregations) and their average attendance, Hadaway estimated that in reality about 21 percent of Americans attended religious services weekly--exactly half the number who told pollsters they did.

Finally, in a brand new paper, Philip Brenner at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research compared self-reported attendance at religious services with "time-use" interviews in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Finland, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Austria, Ireland, and Great Britain. Brenner looked at nearly 500 studies over four decades, involving nearly a million respondents.

Brenner found that the United States and Canada were outliers--not in religious attendance, but in overreporting religious attendance. Americans attended services about as often as Italians and Slovenians and slightly more than Brits and Germans. The significant difference between the two North American countries and other industrialized nations was the enormous gap between poll responses and time-use studies in those two countries.

Why do Americans and Canadians feel the need to overreport their religious attendance? You could say that religiosity for Americans is tied to their identity in a way that it is not for the Germans, the French, and the British. But that only restates the mystery. Why is religiosity tied to American identity?



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 08:54:16 AM EST
Brenner found that the United States and Canada were outliersoutright liars

FIFY.

Social pressure, real or imagined.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 09:04:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My own comments on this:

  • The article fails to properly answer the question asked at the end of the quoted part. They point to the religious "refugees" from Europe at the foundation of the USA, but that ignores what happened since, like the official promotion of religion during the Cold War.

  • The article focuses on the hypocrites who claim to be religious but are only on the surface as part of national identity. However, an equally significant strand of American religiousity are the hypocrites for whom religiousity and free-market fundamentalism/the seeking of material riches is combined within their church, too (ignoring Biblical stuff like the quasi-communism of the Apostles or Matthew 19:24/Mark 10:25 about the camel and the rich man).

  • By focusing on church attendance, the article also overlooks the question of how fanatic the religiously active are – another field where American religiousity is special. This goes way beyond a harmless professing of a national identity when it results in silly anti-gay laws, abortion clinic bombings, the destruction of science education, or soldiers in foreign countries who run amok believing they are Crusaders.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 02:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, I don't think France does enjoy all three of your categories, mostly because, as I understand it, sects such as the Jehovah's Witnesses are considered cults and do not enjoy the same institutional benefits of other religious organizations. Compare that to the US where the state explicitly makes no presumptions about the validity or not of anyone's attempts to organize for faith-based purposes.  Cults are as legal as the Presbyterian Church in the US, while this is not the case in much of the rest of the world.

But, thinking about Asia, I don't really think we can point to differences between east and west as far as your categories are concerned.  To the extent that they are valid in Chinese or Hindu regions, I can't really think of anything other than state-specific variances from Judeo-Christian or Muslim regions.  It may well be that the issues of secularization, freedom of conscience, and church-state separation have more to do with resolving the historical problems of governing multi-ethnic/multi-religious polities than anything else.

by santiago on Thu Sep 6th, 2012 at 01:48:02 PM EST
sects such as the Jehovah's Witnesses are considered cults and do not enjoy the same institutional benefits of other religious organizations.

That's part of the republican pact. Closed organisations which are judged to abuse their members are not allowed (anti-sect law). i.e. people are not allowed to abandon their freedom and delegate their relations with society to a hierarchical organisation.

The definition of who's in the list of cults is controversial, of course, as it should be.

This is about freedom of conscience, and it is surely more important than mere "religious freedom".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 12:13:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree, but it is certainly problematic that the state gets to decide what groups are in the list of cults, which introduces a state-sponsorship of some religions over others based on what are arguably arbitrary criteria. (Jehova's Witnesses delegate their relations with society to a hierarchical organization more than, say, Roman Catholics?  Seriously?)  Here is where the separation of church and state in France becomes questionable, as it is in many otherwise liberal countries with respect to religion.
by santiago on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 01:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jehova's Witnesses delegate their relations with society to a hierarchical organization more than, say, Roman Catholics? Seriously?

No, but there is greater social interpenetration with the rest of society, and some of the more explicitly coercive practices, such as shunning apostates and heathens, are less widespread.

Jehova's Witnesses uses cult tactics to recruit, induct and retain membership. The Roman Catholic Church works more like a transnational corporation. It's not obvious that one is more harmful, or even less coercive, than the other. But the harm and coercion by the latter is (usually) much less flagrant and obvious.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 01:21:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, Catholics (and other mainline religions) get a break unavailable to some other more recent, smaller groups largely because of the cultural history of Catholicism in French society.  And that's kind of the definition of non-independence between the state and religion, isn't it?  
by santiago on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:05:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So France is just as European as all the other European countries...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:05:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In practice they do, but that's not quite the point I was making. The Catholic Church in Russia or China is also less of a cult than Jehova's Witnesses or the Church of Happyology. So it's not solely a matter of historical hegemony.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2012 at 05:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries

In defense of tree-huggers

by Cyrille - Apr 18
19 comments

Budapest Metro Line M4

by DoDo - Apr 19
3 comments

Elections in Orbánistan

by DoDo - Apr 6
39 comments

An unfair test

by Cyrille - Apr 8
6 comments

Might INET be a Trojan Horse?

by ARGeezer - Mar 31
10 comments