teaser: …I think it is patriotic to work on the separation of State and churches, not just Church, churches.
European populations/states fates were strongly influenced by their relations with churches and the actual political european landscape reflects those relations. Greece probably wouldn’t exist as such if the orthodox church didn’t preserved the greek language over four centuries of ottoman occupation. And didn’t helped to foment the revolution. Christians against muslims, that’s it. Not only, but part of it.
And sequels are always active. Look at the Cyprus’ actual condition.
So, would it be patriotic to separate the orthodox church from the greek-to-be-state at those times? Certainly not. And as a good greek I shouldn’t even use the word « greek » but rather hellene and I shouldn’t even talk about « Greece », but rather about Hellas. Greek was a pejorative term for greeks, that’s it 🙂 A turkish term, a muslim term.
Thus, once upon a time, the relation between the orthodox church and the potential greek state was symbiotic. That was under the ottoman occupation of Greece. Well, not exactly Greece, as Greece didn’t existed before 1826. We are talking about greek speaking populations, at least most of them speaking greek, well, a lot of them speaking greek. The church promoted greek language and transformed it progressively to national identity. They needed the language. The scriptures where translated in greek! Even an interesting piece was wrote directly in greek, John’s Apocalypse (my favorite SF reading, great stuff, always wondered on what he was tripping John).
The church conserved the language and by the same way they promoted faith to scriptures; easy stuff as they used the scriptures as teaching material. A win-win strategy. Win-win for the church, as Greece didn’t existed yet. It was rather the remnants of the byzantine empire. Half of the ex-roman empire. The greek part. The one that installed the christian religion as the official empire’s one. Old collaboration, going back to Constantine.
Later, once the
greek state Hellas was built up, the church used it to reinforce it’s position as the main source of morality and ethics, using the statesmen as tools to implant the church’s policies. The relation was progressively transformed to a parasitic one.
As the political connexions with other
european states gone beyond what the church had to offer the bonds weakened and recently the connexions between the church and the state was broken. Recently, that is 1982! Look at the greek hellenic flag: A cross… It will be difficult to change this one, so I prefer the european flag. Not very patriotic isn’t it?
An interesting (I hope) anecdote: when I was 16 yo I went to the nearest police station to get my identity card; Athens, Vyronas. Those days the religion was an item marked on ID cards! Already a convinced atheist, when the question « religion? » was announced I answered « none! ». The guy looked at me and asked the question again, received the same answer and this was repeated several times. Finally he stopped the exchange to inform me that « none » wasn’t a receivable answer, so kindly I changed it to « atheist ». Neither « atheist » was a receivable answer. So I changed it to « buddhist », after more than an hour of discussion. He said that I had to think about it and left me. He came back every 15 minutes to ask the same question again and again, receiving the same answer and each time he repeated that I had to think about that, consider the consequences of such a childish decision, the way that this could affect my future etc. Then the chief came to see me and this was the very first time I heard this question: « This isn’t a greek attitude, are you one of those anarchists? Or are you a patriot as anyevery greek should be? Greeks are orthodox christians, that’s it and everybody else is an enemy of the nation. We aren’t going to deliver a greek identity card to a fucking anarchist! » I tried to say something about the olympians and the greek identity but he didn’t listen, he continued to scream at me.
Finally I gave up (after almost 9 h), signaling that they forced me to tell a lie and that this was unethical and that they were the puppets of the church. For several years I went around with an ID labeled « christian, orthodox » discussing the fact that I was an atheist 🙂
Quite interesting the fact that greek communities around the world, the greek diaspora, are structured often (if not always) around the church and sometimes the pope is the teacher of greek (this is the case at Bordeaux).
Now, there is a difference, a huge difference, between church and religion. I could cope with the orthodox church but certainly not with orthodox christianity. Religions are irrational systems, churches highly organized social systems that have little to do with religions. The main problem of churches is that they need to show that they are connected with religions, to keep captive people hoping that their eternal souls will live in felicity in some other dimension. Dictating behaviors presumably imposed by some deity. Any deity, as long as it is sufficiently credible to have believers. States used that kind of persuasion (along with other tools of social management that churches may carry along, as torture, imprisonment, death sentences, etc) with the complicity of churches, and churches always found the way to be pleasant to states, collaborating with every kind of state that tolerated, or even better promoted, them. If churches aren’t connected with the state they aren’t any better than NGOs. And churches are felling the end coming and react. The better they can, to avoid the change of status.
Science is killing the dogmas of the three main monotheist religions and rip credibility off the three main churches. Democracy is killing lords and between them the Lords. Freedom of speech is killing the unquestionability of religious leaders as they fail to answer simple questions or even they manage to worsen their positions giving laughable answers. Even believers question them, I mean believers of their corresponding religions.
Well, well, well… What churches have to offer to modern states? Nothing really beneficial, certainly troubles, as more and more people become non believers and prefer to build morality and ethics on rationalism rather than pseudo-revelations. Maybe the relation between states and churches shift progressively from symbiotic to parasitic. In that case, if states, statesmen and peoples understand that churches are mostly parasitic it will become highly patriotic to get rid the state from the parasite.
Bottom line, I think it is highly patriotic to work on the separation of State and churches, not just Church, churches. Nothing to do with what people believes or not, just taking down parasites.
Blue Gal organized and the stuff is here