Sunday, November 21, 2004


Freedom of religion or freedom from religion?

Western Europe has seen the triumph of Secularism as a philosophy. Recently, an Italian politician was denied a place in the EU administration because of his clear Catholic viewpoints, and the waves from the French rules about religious symbols, especially the habib, have not fully settled yet. Secularism has become the state philosophy or religion, to a point where having any other view is now a handicap.
Following is an excerpt from an interview with Cardinal Ratzinger on this. Something to think about.

In an interview with the newspaper La Reppublica, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that "there is an aggressive secular ideology which is worrying."

"In Sweden," he said, "a Protestant pastor who had preached about homosexuality, based on a line from Scriptures, went to jail for one month. Laicism is no longer that element of neutrality which opens up spaces of freedom for all."

"It is being transformed into an ideology which is imposed through politics and which does not give public space to the Catholic or Christian vision, which runs the risk of becoming something purely private and thus disfigured," he added.

"In this sense, a struggle exists and we must defend religious freedom against the imposition of an ideology which is presented as if it were the only voice of rationality, when it is only the expression of a 'certain' rationalism," the cardinal clarified.

Q: Where is God in modern society?

Cardinal Ratzinger: He has been put on the sidelines. In political life, it seems almost indecent to speak of God, as if it were an attack on the freedom of those who do not believe.

The world of politics follows its norms and paths, excluding God as something that does not belong to this world. The same in the world of business, the economy, and private life. God remains marginalized.

To me, its seems necessary to rediscover -- and the energy to do so exists -- that even the political and economic spheres need moral responsibility, a responsibility that is born in man's heart and, in the end, has to do with the presence or absence of God.

A society in which God is completely absent self-destructs. We saw this in the great totalitarian regimes of the last century.


I would like to point out a few things regarding this article.

First, you have to look at religion and the relationship to the state from a different point of view if you want to truly analyze the Europeans. Europe has a long, long history of fighting and killing over religion. The war against the Mores in Spain, the Spanish inquisition, Ottoman soldiers making it to the gates of Vienna, the protestant reformation and the 30 years war, to name a few. WWI was started because of religion. An orthodox Serbian group killed a Catholic Archduke which brought in Russia and Austria, witch brought in Germany and France, etc. Millions of Europeans were killed for their religion in WWII (Jews and Catholics). Wars in the Baltic's and Northern Ireland are due to religious clashed. There are many, many more instances. They are quite sick of people fighting over religion there. It is kind of like giving your kids a new ball to play with. You tell them to share, but they will only fight over it. Sooner or later, you get sick of it and just take the ball away from everyone. Since we have never had a religious war in the US, we don't have the same weariness as the Europeans. Have they gone too far in some instances, maybe, but I don't think they are heathens for trying to keep religion and government separate. This is even more an issue now with the European populace becoming more and more divers (same in the US).

Second, the statement the Cardinal made, "A society in which God is completely absent self-destructs. We saw this in the great totalitarian regimes of the last century," is completely without merit. So far, we have seen only one "godless" regime fall (Eastern Europe) and that was not because of religion, but economics. I refer to the Eastern European block collectively because of the ties to the USSR. If the USSR did not exist, neither would the other soviet block states. And if the USSR was still around, so would the soviet block. Additionally, most of these states, while not recognizing a religion, allowed people to still worship (Poland, Hungary, etc).

Third, USSR excluded, every other totalitarian government that has fallen has allowed religion among it citizens (Fascist Germany, Italy and Spain) so it is not "godlessness" that causes a down fall since "god" states also fall. China is still around and kicking as well as many other totalitarian states. Also, even states with strong ties to god/gods fall. Rome, Byzantine, Persian, Athenian, Ottoman, Tsarist Russia, etc. So, I think basing a hypothesis on the USSR falling due its "godlessness" is a falsity and completely misleading.
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