I'm filling out 23andme's survey questions. They tell you what the distribution is after you answer a question (though not the sample size). One third atheist/agnostic and more than half unaffiliated isn't typical for the US. Here's one question:
I'm filling out 23andme's survey questions. They tell you what the distribution is after you answer a question (though not the sample size). One third atheist/agnostic and more than half unaffiliated isn't typical for the US. Here's one question:
The changing Jewish demographics of Russia are occiassionally remarked upon, but not all that much. Still impressive...obviously, any count involves definitional issues. Jews in what is now Russia are down from 880,000 in 1959 to 160,000 in 2010, from 0.75% of the population to around 0.1% of the population. Ukraine is steeper, down from 840,000 in 1959 to 71,000 in 2010, or from 2% to 0.16% of the population. And this trend hasn't stopped.
Also interesting: a tad under 85% of Jews now live in two countries, Isreal and the US, with about 10% more living in Israel than in the US (or 45% in Isreal, 40% in the US). That's a pretty concentrated population -- hence the 'decline of world Jewry' in the title of this post. Back in 1970 there were more Jews in the US than there are now, and more than twice as many than in Israe. And Jewish population is falling almost everywhere, including the US, except Israel (and Germany). And that's an absolute decline, not just a fall in population share (though how much this decline is net conversion?).
Back in 1970 20% of Jews lived in Isreal, now it is 45%. Back in 1970, 63.5% of Jews lived in the US and Israel, now it is 85%. That a fall from 36.5% non-US/non-Israeli Jews to 15% non-US/non-Israeli Jews, more than having.
Finally, notice the collapse of Jewish migration from the former Soviet Union to both the US and Germany...I have vague memories that this is a 'success' of Israel pushing for immigration restrictions in the US and Germany on Russian Jews (Germany did impose more hurdles, not sure if the US did). But I'd need to check. There was a good amount of Isreali concern that more Russian Jews were going to Germany than to Israel back in 2003 or so.
Catholic exceptionalism right now is the largest net loss rate of any sizable religious denomination:
The Catholic church experienced the greatest net exit within the generation. One-fourth of American adults were Catholic in 2012. If we were to compare that share with the current religion of Americans in the past, we would think there had been little change. Throughout the last fifty years, a consistent 25 percent (plus or minus one percentage point) of Americans were Catholic. Lurking below the surface of that constancy is very important change. All else being equal, the Catholic share of the U.S. population should be rising, not staying constant. For almost two generations Catholics had the demographic advantages of higher fertility and, just as fertility dropped, higher immigration began adding more Catholics to the population. These population fundamen- tals predict that one-third of Americans would be Catholic, all else being equal. And we see that in the religious origins in Table 3. In 2012, 35 percent of American adults had been raised Catholic. In the light of this information, we can see that the 24 percent who were currently Catholic in 2012 actually represented a serious loss of 11 percentage points (or about one-third of the pool of potential members) for the Catholic Church in America. (Hout)
The main contributor to the rise in religously non-affiliated in the US in the last decades is ex-Catholics.
Elections, in the case the Republican primaries, are known to lead to popular agitation, encourated by today's shouting TV media. In any case, listening to Santorum inspires me to flights of phantasies about host desecration. I assume this will pass.
Höhepunkt diverser Zerstörungen in steirischen Kirchen war der Einbruch in Graz Liebenau-St. Paul. Der Tabernakel wurde von unbekanntem Täter aufgebrochen und 80 konsekrierte Hostien gestohlen. Bischofsvikar Schnuderl ist entsetzt über diese Form der Schändung: „Hostienfrevel ist für uns Christen ein Angriff auf das Zentrum unseres Glaubens. Dass konsekrierte Hostien im Tabernakel für Katholiken das Allerheiligste sind, der Leib Christi, der aufbewahrt wird, um auch Kranken und Sterbenden gespendet zu werden, die nicht an der Hl. Messe teilnehmen können, ist offenbar vielen nicht mehr bewusst. Es ist vor allem ein ideeller Schaden, durchaus vergleichbar der Schändung einer Torarolle in der jüdischen Synagoge oder des islamischen Korans, vergleichbar einem Friedhofsfrevel z.B. auf dem Israelitischen Friedhof. Auch wir Christen haben das Recht, dass das, was uns heilig ist, in vergleichbarer Weise geschützt wird.“
Surprising this doesn't happen more often -- though it may be more frequent than I'd been aware of. On the other hand, I can't imagine this is taken too seriously as an offense, at least not as seriously as official Church doctrine proclaims (that it is a mortal sin with self-executing excommunication isn't too serious a sanction if you on the outside anyway).
Last week's Vatican Insider reports on the current situation in Italy:
[At the] highest levels of the Italian Conference of Bishops, a "hard line" against desecration finds full support. The canonist Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, current Director for the Pontifical Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, who has long occupied top positions at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and various Vatican dicasteries, supports the "exceptional measure" initiated by the Archbishop of Monreale, Salvatore Di Cristina. In the face of the escalation of sacrilegious thefts throughout Italy, it is right to hide the consecrated hosts in a secure location, and to leave the tabernacles empty and open to prevent their being broken into. In canon law, explained the cardinal of the Curia, the desecration of the Eucharist is the worst thing one can do - a crime punished with excommunication "latae sententiae" reserved to the Apostolic See. "It is evoked 'ipso facto', that is, for the very fact of having committed it, and excommunication is automatic," De Paolis explains to Vatican Insider.
"The Host given in the hand instead of the mouth increases the risk of that it will be taken away, profaned, or kept for a sacrilegious purpose. But it is Jesus himself who performed this rite with the apostles," notes the cardinal. “The fact that the celebrant washes his hands before touching the bread in which Christ is present is not just a symbolic and spiritual act." So it is "appropriate that we do everything we can to ensure the utmost respect for the Eucharist." The "exceptional but legitimate" decision of the Archbishop of Monreale does not, therefore, conflict with the laws of the Church. Especially since, in recent months, the map of the churches targeted in Italy has traced a red alert zone of "sacrilegious geography," in dioceses both large and small, in the south or in the far north.
Every case seems to go according to the same script, with the underlying signature of followers of the occult: sacristies cracked open by the tools of thieves, the theft of containers of hosts, tabernacles split in two. There have been pyxes stolen from the parish of St. John Bosco in Vasto, goblets with wafers that disappeared from the church of St. Vito in Paestum; wafers removed from the hospital chapel of Biancavilla (Catania), and a night raid on the parish of St. Catherine on the Ionian Sea (Catanzaro). Also targeted by the sacrilegious thieves was the sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie in Monza, and other places of worship in the diocese of Milan in Bereggio and Lentate sul Seveso. And their work was seen again at the Santissimo Nome di Maria in Fornaci Vecchia (Lucca), the church of St. Franca at Piacenza, and the Black Madonna of Monte Nero at Sant’Antonio di Gallura. They have attacked the diocese of Monreale with a particular fury, with four incidents within the last three months (Villagrazia Carini, Terrasini, Cinisi, Partinico).
[Note the last paragraph of this post...]
Huckabee, probably the most electorally competent Republican running for President in 2012, is performing for the Republican primary electorate.
Iowa played host to two right-wing rodeos last weekend, the Conservative Principles Conference and the Rediscover God in America conference. While many of the GOP 2012 presidential hopefuls graced both stages, only at Rediscover God in America did they offer Americans two revealing facts: “America should be governed by biblical law,” and that discredited historian David Barton is a genius.
A former Texas GOP official, David Barton is a “Christian historical revisionist” who contends that “the United States of America is a Christian nation” and the separation of church and state is a “liberal myth.”
Though he “holds no advanced degrees and does not teach at any legitimate institution,” Barton is no small figure in conservative politics. He was invited by Fox News host Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to teach as a “scholar” on American history. At the conference, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that “every time he hears Barton speak, he learns something new.” But Right Wing Watch’s Kyle Mantyla captured the most outrageous endorsement yet. Introduced by Barton, Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) insisted that children need to be “under his tutelage” and said that every American should be forced “at gun point” to “listen to every David Barton message”:
HUCKABEE: I don’t know anyone in America who is a more effective communicator [than David Barton.] I just wish that every single young person in America would be able to be under his tutelage and understand something about who we really are as a nation. I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced — at gun point no less — to listen to every David Barton message. And I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.
When I hear that the founders were 'Christian' and that the US is hence a Christian nation, I always think 'weren't they also white Christians?' and aren't we hence a white Christian nation? At least we once had the white nation part of the 'white Christian nation' interpretation confirmed by the Supreme Court, in a less fanciful reading of the Founding than that produced by Barton:
In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument.
It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. But the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken.
They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.
BTW, Scott vs. Sandford is also the only opinion of the Supreme Court that references the 'Christian nation' phrase. (search here -- also one concurrence and three dissents). Not the best track record for using the 'Christian nation' perspective to interpret the US Constitution. Maybe we should force every young person in the US to actually read Scott vs. Sandford. And that's it, the only time the Supreme Court used the 'Christian nation' concept in an opinion, it was never needed before or after to decide a case.
Yeah, I am sending some messages out there. Yeah, what I see in a bear, in any other species in their natural habitat, they are self-sufficient. They are not sitting around waiting for something else to catch that salmon for them and feed them. The Mama Grizzly's are taking care of their cubs in order to make sure that their species can continue, but no, everybody is expected to help themselves in order to perpetuate the species and the success of.
Palin here nicely illustrates how people of Christian faith believe man is created in the image of god.
John Allen Jr writes in the National Catholic Reporter:
The emergence of Islam as the church's central interfaith preoccupation has turbo-charged support for "healthy secularism."
Proof can be found in the Middle East. Squeezed between two religiously defined behemoths, Israel and the Muslim states which surround it, the tiny Christian minority has no future if fundamentalism prevails. Their dream is to lead a democratic revolution in the region. That outlook reflects a basic law of religious life: secularism always looks better to minorities who would be the big losers in a theocracy.
Momentum towards healthy secularism in Catholic thought has implications well beyond the Middle East.
In both Europe and the States these days, there's considerable debate about the political role of the church. Critics, including many Catholics, sometimes argue that bishops are "too political." Americans, for instance, are still chewing over the role the U.S. bishops played in the health care reform debate.
If there is a force in Catholicism capable of balancing the scales, it's likely to be the relationship with Islam, and the perceived need on the Catholic side to offer a credible model of the separation of religion and politics. That points to a keen irony: The specter of shariah might do more to give Catholic leaders pause about blurring church/state lines than a whole legion of liberal Western theologians.
This could just be wishful thinking.
I know this got a lot of press coverage, but some of the Pew Religious Knowlege Survey polling results are impressive, most particularly the ingnorance among US Catholics and Pretestants of basic core aspects of Catholicism and Protestantism...how do people pull this off? Transubstantiation, justification through faith alone, or Luther's position in the history of Protestantism, aren't exactly obsure.
What does this mean? I suppose it means that most many adherents of religious traditions think their religion means what they feel it means, no more and not less, at least in practice. A sort of religious emotivism (which, BTW, may not be the worst theory of what religion can be).
Reading about yesterday's Beck rally, I'm reminded of one of the ongoing campaigns from the American righ:
Beck, who seems to view himself in increasingly messianic terms, says he is helping to launch another religious “Great Awakening” that will shape American history and promised attendees that on Saturday they would be “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” ...
Rep. Randy Forbes, head of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, gave the opening prayer. Forbes, who represents Virginia’s 4th congressional district, has repeatedly introduced resolutions filled with assertions about the religious nature of America’s founding. Forbes reeled off a list of supposed attacks on faith in America that he and his colleagues had withstood. Without irony, Forbes declared America “the greatest nation the world has ever known” and in the next breath asked God to forgive any pride or conceit “if we have any.” ...
David Barton was Beck’s co-host. Barton is the Religious Right’s favorite pseudo historian and Beck’s new favorite person. After decades of plying his “Christian nation” history through books and evangelical churches, Barton has a huge new national audience thanks to Beck’s patronage.
I've also been reading, and enjoying, Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity book with its wide sweep and strong theses. Strong statement are always something to be careful about in the historical literature, especially in areas where you're not an expert (see, for instance, the naive readers of the 'Christian nation' histories that David Barton or William Federer put out).
Still, MacCulloch reminds me on page 903 that (citing Handy, A History of the Churches in the United States and Canada, 1976):
At the time of the Revolution, despite all the bustle of the Great Awakenings, only around 10% of the American population wer formal Church members, and a majority had no significant involvement in Church activities. In 1815 active Church membership had grown to about a quarter of the population; by 1914 it was approaching half.
These struck me as low figures, so I looked in a sympathetic source to see if this view is widespread in at least some quarters. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark have in The Churching of America, 1776-2005 that (here adherence means being a church member in a specific congregation, though how much you need to attend isn't clear -- they do discuss where these numbers come from, but mostly by citing their own prior work and 1920 and 1930 US historical writings, in particular [okay, too much typing out of non-pasteable formats for me to put it up here, just follow the link...they also discuss why higher estimates are not credible, but google books cuts off that discussion...I have the book, but its in a box in the basement where I cannot find it now...])
But what do these figures mean for interpreting the claims people make about America's Christian founding? I have some ideas, but evidence based history is my own preference.
Nevertheless, with less evidence than is ideal, my own sense is that a) the Founding was still very much an elite project, at least in its narrow Constitutional aspects (original intent and all that), though the post-founding politics and Constitutional remaking of the nation quickly made it a joint elite and (what male) mass project, b) Christianity exists in non-church versions, c) the elite Christianity of many Founders, even many of the Virginia founders, look much closer to that of a mix of today's Congregational, Episcopal and even Unitarian (which are offshoots of the religious culture of elite Northeastern Founders) churches than Evangelical Christianity. So what were facing in the Beck rally is an (intentional and wishful) mistaking of 'Christianity' as a broad category with 'my sort of evangelical Christianity'. They are not the same thing.
If Beck rally participants would want to reflect on how they could aspire to the example of the Founders by becoming more like Unitarians that would be fine with me.
The Guardian reports:
A Catholic priest directed devastating IRA car bomb attacks in the Northern Irish village of Claudy in 1972 and his role was covered up by senior police officers, government ministers and the Catholic hierarchy, an official investigation has revealed.
The government said today it was "profoundly sorry" about the cover-up, while Northern Ireland's Catholic church said it accepted the findings, calling them "shocking".
Nine people were killed and more than 30 were injured when three vehicles exploded on the main street without warning on 31 July. It was one of the worst atrocities of the bloodiest year of the Troubles.
Three of the dead caught up in the mid-morning blast were children. No one was ever charged with the killings, and the IRA at the time denied responsibility.
The long-awaited report by the police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, published today, confirms suspicions that Father James Chesney, a priest in the nearby village of Bellaghy, was directly involved in the IRA operation, and suggests his involvement was even greater than previously assumed.
Senior politicians feared the arrest of a priest in connection with such an atrocity – at a time when sectarian killings in Northern Ireland were out of control and the province stood on the brink of civil war – could destabilise the security situation even further.
A deal was therefore arranged behind closed doors to remove Chesney from the province without provoking sectarian fury. Documents seen by the police ombudsman show that the ACC wrote to the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) on 30 November 1972 saying that he had been considering "what action, if any, could be taken to render harmless a dangerous priest, Father Chesney", and suggesting: "Our masters may find it possible to bring the subject into any conversations they may be having with the cardinal or bishops at some future date."
An NIO official wrote back a week later confirming that the secretary of state, Willie Whitelaw, had held a meeting with Cardinal Conway, the head of the Catholic church in Ireland, and: "The cardinal said that he knew that the priest was a very bad man and would see what could be done. The cardinal mentioned the possibility of transferring him to Donegal."
A number of senior RUC officers, including the then chief constable, Sir Graham Shillington, saw the correspondence. Shillington commented on the letter: "I would prefer Tipperary". (Donegal is only just across the border with the Irish Republic; Tipperary is 200 miles south.)
Church records confirm the deal: "An entry in Cardinal Conway's diary for 5 December 1972 confirms that the meeting with the secretary of state took place. It records that he had a "rather disturbing tête-à-tête at the end about C".
Chesney was subsequently ordered to take sick leave in early 1973, and was transferred to a parish in County Donegal later that year. When questioned by his superiors, he denied involvement in the Claudy bombings. He died in 1980. ...
In a joint statement Seán Brady, the archbishop of Armagh, and Séamus Hegarty, the Bishop of Derry, described the bombing as "an appalling crime", saying: "We accept the ombudsman's findings and conclusions."
They added: "Throughout the Troubles, the Catholic church, along with other churches in Northern Ireland, was constant in its condemnation of the evil of violence. It is therefore shocking that a priest should be suspected of involvement in such violence.
"This case should have been properly investigated and resolved during Father Chesney's lifetime. If there was sufficient evidence to link him to criminal activity, he should have been arrested and questioned at the earliest opportunity, like anyone else. We agree with the police ombudsman that the fact this did not happen failed those who were murdered, injured and bereaved in the bombings."
It is believed Chesney joined the south Derry brigade of the IRA in early 1972 in response to the killings of civil rights protesters in Derry on Bloody Sunday by British soldiers.
All the senior figures involved in the deal to remove Chesney and hush up his role have since died. ...
In a highly critical conclusion, the report states: "For senior police officers to have had the weight of intelligence and information that they had pointing to Father Chesney's possible involvement in terrorism and not to have pursued lines of inquiry, which could potentially have implicated him in or eliminated him from the investigation, was wrong and compromised their investigation into the Claudy bombings."
The decision amounted to collusion between the church and the state, according to the police ombudsman, Al Hutchinson. "I accept that 1972 was one of the worst years of the Troubles and that the arrest of a priest might well have aggravated the security situation," he said. "Equally, I consider that the police failure to investigate someone they suspected of involvement in acts of terrorism could, in itself, have had serious consequences.
"In the absence of explanation the actions of the senior RUC officers, in seeking and accepting the government's assistance in dealing with the problem of Father Chesney's alleged wrongdoing, was by definition a collusive act."
Had the participants in the deal still been alive, Hutchinson said, "their actions would have demanded explanation which would have been the subject of further investigation".
Not that any of this is surprising or that letting Chesney go was the wrong thing to do...just that being a Catholic priest gets you a lot of forbearance. And that the Catholic hierarchy isn't going to necessarily send anybody far away or excommunicate them for the right sort of murder. Indeed, it appears that Chesney remained a practicing priest until he died. [Am I too conspiratorial in wondering if Chesney's death at age 46 of cancer was of natural causes? What's the track record for using carcinogens to murder kill people intentionally and covertly?]
Not that 1972 isn't a challenging period for personnel policy.
A 40% five-year divorce rate for Christian-Jewish marriages seems high. Naomi Schaefer Riley writes in the WP:
In a paper published in 1993, Evelyn Lehrer, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that if members of two mainline Christian denominations marry, they have a one in five chance of being divorced in five years. A Catholic and a member of an evangelical denomination have a one in three chance. And a Jew and a Christian who marry have a greater than 40 percent chance of being divorced in five years.
More recent research concludes that even differing degrees of religious belief and observance can cause trouble. For instance, in a 2009 paper, scholars Margaret Vaaler, Christopher Ellison and Daniel Powers of the University of Texas at Austin found higher rates of divorce when a husband attends religious services more frequently than his wife, as well as when a wife is more theologically conservative than her husband.
Since sociologists, unlike economists, put their papers behind pay walls I cannot check the papers...lots of selection effects here. And at many levels I don't want the divorce rate, I want to divorce rate for couples with children. Which is one reason why I don't think I have many divorced friends, since I don't count divorces for couples without children. Trying to think of friends who are divorced with kids from that marriage...hm, only one friend comes to mind, all the rest are in the 'acquaintance' category.
How exceptional was ancient Roman citizenship among conceptions of social and political membership? And how did Rome develop its form of citizenship? How did citizenship work in practice?
Not something I know much about. Diarmaid MacCulloch's history of Christianity hints that Roman citizenship served as an important context for Christian conceptions of membership in an extended community. Claude Nicolet also seems to hold this view, for instance in The World of the Citizen in Republican Rome. I suspect it is the common view, but I'm not familiar with the literature. (And to be interesting this connection would need to be filled out.)
I've started reading around in Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years and I'm having a good time. MacCulloch gets to make major points, maybe overstated, every couple of pages. You don't get bored.
The one that stood out for me yesterday was how much the context of the gospel is explicit competition with the cult of Roman Emperors -- not that this isn't common knowledge, but it bears some reiteration. For instance, as outlined by Craig Evans, the 9 BCE Priene Inscription proclaiming the good news of Augustus' birthday:
It seemed good to the Greeks of Asia, in the opinion of the high priest Apollonius of Menophilus Azanitus: “Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus [τὸν Σεβαστόν], whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a savior [σωτῆρα], both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance [ἐπιφανεῖς] (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings for the world that came by reason of him [ἦρξεν δὲ τῶι κόσμωι τῶν δι’ αὐτὸν εὐανγελίων ἡ γενέθλιος ἡμέρα τοῦ θεοῦ],” which Asia resolved in Smyrna. (link)
Evans seems to claim that Mark is most likely written in the context of similar proclamations, this time of Vespasian, newly risen from the General who put down the Jewish Rebellion of 66 to become Roman Emperor in 69. Adam Winn seems to have a similar view.
Not that this is literature I have much exposure to...
Well, it seems Bishop Mixa, my favorite German Catholic bishop who claims atheist like me are the cause of most human misery, including WWII and the Holocaust, has finally had his resignation accepted by the Pope after a scandal involving his beating of orphans, use of foundation money designation for orphans for buying overpriced art for his residence, and now it seems homosexual sex with an underage teenager, at least according to a criminal complaint filed by the Church against him. The last supposedly not an isolated event.
You'd think that the Church would eventually recognize the role marriage, including gay marriage, plays in keeping people out of trouble. But seemingly not...I have my socially conservative tendencies, but the Catholic Church sure isn't an institution that's accommodating my socially conservative intuitions. Instead the Church has policies and a culture that lead to social chaos and disorder.
Many people in the U.S.—perhaps 20 million to 40 million—believe there will be a Second Coming in their lifetimes, followed by the Rapture . In this event, they say, the righteous will be spirited away to a better place while the godless remain on Earth. But what will become of all the pets?
Bart Centre, 61, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, says many people are troubled by this question, and he wants to help. He started a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets that promises to rescue and care for animals left behind by the saved.
Promoted on the Web as "the next best thing to pet salvation in a Post Rapture World," the service has attracted more than 100 clients, who pay $110 for a 10-year contract ($15 for each additional pet.) If the Rapture happens in that time, the pets left behind will have homes—with atheists. Centre has set up a national network of godless humans to carry out the mission. "If you love your pets, I can't understand how you could not consider this," he says.
Back to my usual escapism:
All pretty light reading, except Carpenter, who I find hard to get through -- but I have interest in the topic. Basically, my state building preoccupation in different guises.
I should get away from blogs and back to books with their much higher long-run returns (for the portfolio of books I actually read).
Update #1: books that didn't get purchased for now are
I've been thinking about writing about the most recent incarnation of the Catholic Church scandal, with comments about the Church's sociology and organizational challenges, but ...well, it would be work.
But the press on the Church is starting to be impressively critical, for instance this article in the National Catholic Reporter: Money paved way for Maciel's influence in the Vatican, by Jason Berry.
Update #1: Jody comments:
It's sort-of bad form for a Lutheran to say much. Given the never-resolved debates over Vatican II, the secularization of the developed world, the decoupling of ethnic identification and church attendance in the United States, and the crisis in priestly/religious recruitment, it's hard to see how the church as an institution survives this. But I think it will survive. Over the past 2000 years, Rome has survived worse. The divide between North and South puts US reformers at a distinct disadvantage, when it comes to reform. Most Catholics I know still respect their parish priests, and many Catholics are surprisingly fundamentalist/evangelical now. The "mainline" Catholics already ignore half the church's teachings, and go for cultural reasons. Will they leave because they loathe and distrust their archdioceses? I don't know. If I had to bet money, I'd bet that ten years from now, the number of "unaffiliated/atheist" respondents to religious surveys will have grown by another 10-15 percent, and most of the change will have come from the Catholic column.
Just to be clear, I'm saying it's bad form for _me_ to say much. Not that it stopped me. (I forgot that none of your readers will know my church affiliation. Sorry.)
I'm less interested in predicting consequences here -- since I don't really care that much how things come out and I don't understand the origins of the problem enough to feel comfortable making predictions -- than just trying to figure out why the Catholic Church is having these widespread and persistent problems, much more so than, for instance, various Protestant Sects.
Update #2: (not necessarily reliable) German polling has the Catholic Church as less trustworthy than large banks, political parties or corporate boards.
If Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens retires, and is replaced by Elena Kagan (the favorite), then the Supreme Court of the United States of America will have no Protestants on the bench.
Razib goes on to observe that, unlike in the past, this no longer seems to be a live issue in the US today.
The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.
Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.
1. Secular Humanism (100%) 2. Unitarian Universalism (92%) 3. Liberal Quakers (77%) 4. Nontheist (76%) 5. Theravada Buddhism (74%) 6. Neo-Pagan (64%) 7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (61%) 8. New Age (52%) 9. Taoism (51%) 10. Orthodox Quaker (44%) 11. Reform Judaism (44%) 12. Mahayana Buddhism (44%) 13. Baha'i Faith (34%) 14. Scientology (33%) 15. Jainism (33%) 16. New Thought (31%) 17. Sikhism (27%) 18. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (26%) 19. Islam (22%) 20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (22%) 21. Orthodox Judaism (22%) 22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (20%) 23. Seventh Day Adventist (18%) 24. Hinduism (15%) 25. Eastern Orthodox (13%) 26. Roman Catholic (13%) 27. Jehovah's Witness (10%)
From her Tea Party speech yesterday (I can't find the full transcript yet -- which is weird -- and I'm not going to sit through the 40 minute video to check this quote):
I think, kind of tougher to, um, put our arms around, but allowing America's spirit to rise again by not being afraid to kind of go back to some of our roots as a God fearing nation where we're not afraid to say, especially in times of potential trouble in the future here, where we're not afraid to say, you know, we don't have all the answers as fallible men and women so it would be wise of us to start seeking some divine intervention again in this country, so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again. To have people involved in government who aren't afraid to go that route, not so afraid of the political correctness that you know -- they have to be afraid of what the media said about them if they were to proclaim their alliance on our creator. (via Sullivan)
Inspired by the family's trek through Boston area museums -- the MFA, JFK Library, Peabody Essex Museum, ICA, visited in order of increasing child acceptance, tomorrow they get to go to a puppet theater -- some questions:
Formatting problems with tables...
Short version without tables is that I looked at the polling at the World Values Survey, a reputable outfit, for Germany in 2006. 16.6% of CDU voters agree that ‘Politicians who don´t believe in God are unfit for public office.’ 5.6% for SPD voters, 14.3% for FDP voters (!), 8.9% for Green voters, 6.8% for Linke voters, 3% for NPD or Reps. However around 36% of all Germans who go to church once a week believe this. But that is only 8.1% of the population, compared with 36.2% in the US.
For comparison, the US polling data from the same source for ‘Politicians who don´t believe in God are unfit for public office’ has 26% of Democrats agreeing, 46% of Republicans, 28% of Independents.
National level statistics suggest that strong mass religiosity is invariably associated with high levels of stress and anxiety, which are created by impoverishment, inequality, or economic security, related to high levels of societal dysfunction. These relationships are largely consistent when the United States, an outlier amongst advanced democracies in the high level of both religious belief and social decay, is removed from the comparison.
CT New Junkie reports
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport filed a federal lawsuit against two state ethics officials Friday after the officials told the church it needs to register as a lobbyist to hold rallies at the state Capitol and use its Web site to oppose legislation.
The lawsuit claims that the diocese was compelled to “oppose unconstitutional legislation that struck at its right of religious self-governance,” when it undertook the action the state officials deemed to be lobbying.
The two defendants, Thomas Jones and Carol Carson, from the Office of State Ethics were unable to be reached for comment Friday evening.
The legislation, which drew the church’s ire because it “would have deprived Roman Catholic Bishops and pastors of voting membership on the governing bodies of corporations that control parish property in Connecticut,” was withdrawn before even receiving a public hearing, but heightened tension between the church and the state.
Six weeks after the diocese bused thousands in for a rally on the steps of the state Capitol, it was contacted by Jones who informed it that he was conducting an evaluation to ascertain whether the diocese had violated Connecticut law by failing to register as a lobbyist. The lawsuit says that Jones also informed the diocese that statements on its Web site regarding a bill related to same-sex marriage may also be construed as lobbying.
The threat of civil penalties against the diocese for participating in the rally and conveying its opposition to legislation on its Web site is “chilling” to the diocese’s constitutional rights, the lawsuit alleges.
However, Rep. Chris Caruso of Bridgeport who is a Catholic and is the former chairman of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee, said the church has a right to rally and assemble and the state has the right to regulate it. He said the church can’t have it both ways.
“If you want to come up and lobby, then you have to be held accountable,” Caruso said. “Give unto Cesar, what is Cesar’s.”
According to the lawsuit Jones sought to find out how much it cost to bus the thousands of Catholics to the Capitol March 11 for a rally against the bill which would change how church finances are governed.
The lawsuit claims that Jones informed the diocese that spending over $2,000 would require it to register as a lobbyist. While Jones conveyed this to the diocese, the lawsuit says he has not referred the matter to the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office for criminal violations of the state’s lobbying statutes, but the diocese “nonetheless faces that possibility.”
What are the legal issues here? Not clear to me how the Catholic Church is exempt from general laws here, since they don't seem to impose a undue burden on any fundamental rights the Church might have. It would be nice to know more. Has this come up before? How do other states handle it? If the Catholic Church or none of its subentities has never registered as a lobbyist, how have they done this?
Our kids go to school with the kid of a registered lobbyist (though it is for Common Cause).
Not clear that CT state law has this exemption -- I assume not, since the suit is in Federal Court and state courts interpret state law. So this seems to call for an undue burden test and I cannot see how the Diocese of Bridgeport can show that registration is an undue burden on the free exercise of religion for it.
The FAZ reports:
Im Dezember des vergangenen Jahres las man die ersten Meldungen über den Preis, der am 22. März verliehen werden sollte. Darin stand noch der Name von Fuat Sezgin, einem hochverdienten Wissenschaftshistoriker, der an der Frankfurter Universität Quellen der arabischen Naturwissenschaft analysiert und herausgibt. Aber Sezgin zog sich, wie das Kuratorium des Kulturpreises nun bekanntgab, auf eigenen Wunsch zurück. Aber auch die zweite Wahl hatte sehr gute Gründe für sich: sie fiel auf den Schriftsteller und Publizisten Navid Kermani. Kermani ist ein Autor von hoher literarischer Sensibilität - und das Preiskuratorium hätte sich keinen besseren Träger für die Auszeichung suchen können.
Meditation über das Kreuz
In Rom hatte Kermani einen Artikel für die „Neue Zürcher Zeitung“ verfasst, der zum Stein des Anstoßes werden sollte. Es handelte sich um eine Meditation über das Kreuz, in der Betrachtung von Guido Renis Altarbild in der römischen Basilika San Lorenzo in Lucina. Für die Muslime, die Jesus als Propheten anerkennen, aber von einer Sohnschaft nichts wissen wollen und den qualvollen Tod für einen bloßen Schein erklären, stellt das Kreuz eine große Herausforderung dar. Und von dieser sprach Kermani in sehr deutlichen Worten in seinem Artikel: „Kreuzen gegenüber bin ich prinzipiell negativ eingestellt.“ Aber seine Ablehnung der „Kreuzestheologie“, die er in scharfe Worte fasste, war doch nur der Anfang einer Gedankenbewegung. Er las aus den Worten des sterbenden Christus - „warum hast du mich verlassen?“ - etwas wie eine Klage, vielleicht eine Anklage im Namen der Menschheit gegen die Gottheit. Und plötzlich fand er vor dem Altarbild „den Anblick so berückend, so voller Segen, dass ich am liebsten nicht mehr aufgestanden wäre. Erstmals dachte ich: Ich - nicht nur: man -, ich könnte an ein Kreuz glauben.“
Aber nun begann der interreligiöse Dialog, den man doch fördern wollte, zu stottern. Kardinal Lehmann und Peter Steinacker fanden in Kermanis Gedankengang nicht die kühnen Reflexionen eines Muslims, der vielleicht nahe daran war, an seinem eigenen Bekenntnis irre zu werden, sondern einen „so fundamentalen und unversöhnlichen Angriff auf das Kreuz als zentrales Symbol des christlichen Glaubens“, dass sie den Preis bei gleichzeitiger Vergabe an Kermani nicht annehmen wollten.
Too bad they found a prominent Jewish German to substitute for a Muslim German. Oops, that not what happened: Fuat Sezgin refused to accept the prize with Salomon Korn in protest over what Korn had written about the Gaza war.
Here is the offending NZZ article. The offensive phrasing seems to be, not quoted by the FAZ, the bolding below:
Für mich formuliere ich die Ablehnung der Kreuzestheologie drastischer: Gotteslästerung und Idolatrie.
written after explaining that
Gewiss stösst mir die Lust, die katholische Darstellungen seit der Renaissance an Jesu Leiden haben, auch deshalb so auf, weil ich es von der Schia kenne und nicht kenne. Ich kenne es, weil das Martyrium dort genauso exzessiv bis hin zum Pornografischen zelebriert wird, und ich kenne es nicht, weil genau dieser Aspekt der Schia in Grossvaters Glauben, der mehr als jeder andere Bezugspunkt meine eigene religiöse Erziehung bestimmt hat, wie ich bei der Lektüre seiner Memoiren feststelle, keine Rolle spielte, ja als Volks- und Aberglauben abgelehnt wurde, der die Menschen davon abbringe, die Welt zu verbessern, statt nur ihren Zustand zu beklagen.
Nope, we can't have a cardinal or Kirchenpräsident stand on the same stage with somebody who writes that. Or the FAZ is leaving out important context.
The NZZ also reports, in particular about Cardinal Lehmann's stance:
[U]nter Verweis auf den NZZ-Artikel schrieb der Bischof (oder sein Sekretär) einen harschen Brief an die Staatskanzlei. Glauben wir einem, der den Brief gelesen hat, so stand dem Sinne nach darin: Die Äusserungen Kermanis über das Kreuz Christi seien von einer derart schockierenden religiösen Intoleranz, dass es dem Kardinal unmöglich sei, in Gemeinschaft mit Kermani aufzutreten und den gleichen Preis entgegenzunehmen. ....
Unsere Bitte um Klärung, wodurch genau sich Navid Kermani als Preisträger disqualifiziere, beschied das Bistum abschlägig: «Kardinal Lehmann wird zu Ihrer Anfrage keine Erklärung abgeben», teilte man uns schriftlich mit. Wir sollten uns an die Hessische Staatskanzlei als Zuständige wenden. Die brach ihr Schweigen gestern am späten Nachmittag und gab bekannt, dass sie Navid Kermani dem bischöflichen Einspruch opfert (freilich drückt man es diplomatischer aus). Den Brüskierten eher zu informieren als die Presse, hielt die Staatskanzlei nicht für nötig.
Update #1: Deutschlandradio interviews on of the peace prize jury members, Helmut Seemann:
Karkowsky: Und das wollen wir noch mal
erklären. Sie hören Helmut Seemann, den Präsidenten der Stiftung
Weimarer Klassik, er sitzt in der Jury des Hessischen Kulturpreises,
hat die Preisträger mit ausgesucht. Herr Seemann, Navid Kermani wurde
ja vor allen Dingen von Kardinal Lehmann abgelehnt, weil er sich in der
"Neuen Zürcher Zeitung" kritisch über das christliche Symbol des
Kreuzes geäußert hat. Ich zitiere: "Gerade weil ich ernst nehme, was es
darstellt, lehne ich das Kreuz rundherum ab. Nebenbei finde ich die
Hypostasierung des Schmerzes barbarisch, körperfeindlich, ein Undank
gegenüber der Schöpfung." Weiter sagt dann Kermani sehr differenziert,
ihn stört die Anbetung des Schmerzes auch im schiitischen Islam. Zitat:
"Ich kenne es, weil das Martyrium dort genauso exzessiv bis hin zum
Pornografischen zelebriert wird." Und am Ende des Textes versöhnt er
sich sogar mit der berückenden Darstellung Jesu am Kreuz, wie in Guido
Reni auf seinem Gemälde "Kreuzigung" zeigt, und sagt: "Erstmals dachte
ich: Ich - nicht nur man - könnte an ein Kreuz glauben." Finden Sie
diesen Text anstößig im Sinne Kardinal Lehmanns?
Seemann: Nein, ich habe eine vollkommen andere Haltung dazu, was deswegen - ich sage das sonst nie, aber in dem Zusammenhang muss ich es, fürchte ich, jetzt doch sagen -, ich selber katholisch bin und deswegen über die Äußerungen von Karl Kardinal Lehmann wirklich entsetzt bin, weil sie zum Ausdruck bringen, dass er einen Text nicht verstehen kann. Und das finde ich eine ganz schlimme Sache, wenn es um einen Kulturpreis geht, wiederum. Denn hier sehen wir einen Menschen, der sich über ein Ärgernis - und das Kreuz ist gerade auch nach christlichem Verständnis ein Ärgernis - ärgert und nun im Anblick der Kunst sich mit diesem Ärgernis in einer sehr differenzierten Form verständigt, vielleicht sogar aussöhnt, das bleibt ein bisschen offen. Das ist ein hochinteressanter Text auf der Grenze zwischen Religion und Kultur und ist deswegen exakt das, worum es eigentlich bei diesem Preis gehen müsste. Und das wird nun von einem anderen Preisträger, von dem ich geglaubt hätte, dass er hermeneutisch über die Grundausstattung eines kulturellen Menschen verfügt, wird dies zum Anlass genommen, sich gegen Kermani auszusprechen. Ich finde das wirklich ganz schlimm. Und ich kann mir auch eigentlich nicht vorstellen, dass es der einzige Grund ist, der Kardinal Lehmann leitet, denn dieser Text ist nach meiner Meinung nicht in irgendeiner Weise blasphemisch, sondern er bringt etwas zum Ausdruck, was zum Beispiel auch Goethe zum Ausdruck gebracht hat. Ich bin ziemlich sicher, Kardinal Lehmann würde einen Goethe-Preis nicht deswegen nicht annehmen, weil Goethe in bestimmten Zusammenhängen schon auch mal vom Scheißkreuz spricht. Das kann ärgerlich sein und das ist es auch in der Geschichte immer wieder gewesen, und schon Jesus Christus hat es im Evangelium als Ärgernis benannt. Das heißt, an welcher Stelle des Verstehens stehen wir denn hier?
Karkowsky: Wie verhält sich denn die Jury jetzt? Die könnte ja im Prinzip komplett zurücktreten, weil die Idee eines Toleranzpreises der Religionen mit diesen Preisträgern nicht möglich war. Stattdessen findet die Preisverleihung statt, und zwar nur mit zwei Christen und einem Juden. Ist das richtig so?
Seemann: Ja, also das ist jetzt eine politische Entscheidung, die Ministerpräsident Koch so vorgeschlagen hat.
Not clear to me what the Goethe reference here is.
Update #2: There is still the question why both Steinacker and Lehmann are doing this, thought it isn't too puzzling the Koch supports their position. Playing to the base would be the obvious political interpretation -- but it is still interesting the both of them seem to see mobilizing a shrinking base as their best option and are willing to pay for this stance in public opinion.
Not that I'm going to say very much about it here and now, but it is quite impressive how well more literal types of Christianity do given their source material. For instance, what does do with one of the central passages at the end of Matthew, at 24:29-35, especially 24:34? Jesus speaking to the disciples:
Okaaay, just focus on 36 which talks about nobody knowing 'day and hour' but not 34 which talks about 'this generation'. Or you get the otherwise, as I understand, biblically inerrant literalist and bestselling Tim LaHaye reasoning along the lines of 'well in this case we cannot take the bible quoting Jesus seriously since, well, that would be unfortunate for us':
It would be funny if it weren't so sad.
And I'm just trying to quickly read some Bart Ehrman books, as suggested by Jody. And I keep having these jaw dropping moments...don't let these guys anywhere near power or you'll soon learn that no legal norms mean what they seem to mean because they know what they actually mean (and even that changes quickly and opportunistically)...and then they complain a lot about activist liberal judges making up stuff about the law...
Update #1: And when things start becoming really difficult aroud 100 CE with 'this generation will not pass away until all these things take place' -- since the generation of the apostles is pretty much all dead -- you can just insert the backdated and pseudepigraphic Second Epistle of Peter with its 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Not there is necessarily anything wrong with that, especially given the alternative objects of worship.
Biblical inerrancy sure looks like a version of legal positivism applied to Christianity. A bit of an ironic situation given the strident critiques and denunciations of legal positivism in some religious circles.
Update #1: Riever T., who I don't know, comments:
One issue is that I didn't lay out an argument above but just stated my current impression of one possible interpretation of biblical inerrancy given my recent reading. And that reading has been on Christian self-understandings, not Islamic or Jewish self-understandings. I suspect the analogy between biblical inerrancy as understood for Christianity works better than for the analagous claims in Islam or in Judaism, but I'd need to explain that further. And it might work for Islam and Judaism as well, but it depends what 'works' means, which I would need to spell out.
Finally, the irony in 'biblical inerrancy as legal positivism' comes in part from the energy the Catholic Church spends denouncing legal positivism and positing itself as the necessary cure for this ill, which the other two faiths probably have broader targets for their self-justification in contemporary society.
Mostly just throwing a thought out here.
via Deltoid, the Testimony of Dr. E. Calvin Beisner to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the United States House of Representatives Wednesday, March 25, 2009, which I ran across since I was googling for information on today's Climate Change hearings with Al Gore and Newt Gingrich:
from Pew --- what about the 21% of Christians who don't know or don't believe? Is this a Christianity without a Second Coming or a non-believing (social?) Christianity? Which large organized Christian groups hold this view? It is a bit hard to figure out what Unitarians are supposed to believe, but as the Christian denominations I'd join if I'd had to join one, it is not too surprising to find something along the lines of
We do not await or expect the second coming of Christ to bring about the world of our dreams. We do not rely on the miraculous intervention of God. To the extent that God works in the world, it must be through humanity. The only hands that God has are ours, our hands.
Here is the Pew poll:
I've been obsessing a bit about the current Catholic Church's attack on atheists. My current state of mind is:
1. The Catholic Church ought to extend its ecumenical process to cover atheists as well, if it hasn't already done so. The Church's current stance seems driven by caricature and distortion to an extent that isn't generally acceptable in ecumenical relations. The Church ought to review how it is handling this matter to come up with a more truthful stance that lives up the the Church's aspirations.
2. It strikes me that the Church's stance on atheism and atheists is reproducing some of the features of Catholic and also Protestant antisemitism in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. While before 1945 German Christians could get worked up about Jewish Bolshevism as opposed to just Bolshevism, and then use this association to go after all Jews (or at least the annoying ones) in Germany, we now have the Catholic Church talking about atheist Communism and atheist Nationalsocialism, to use this against all atheists (or at least the vocal ones) in Germany. As for the strengths of the association the Church is constructing here, the association between Communism and Jews is at least as strong as the association between atheists and Nazis (i.e. very partial: some Jews became Communists and Communism was much stronger in their lives than Jewish religious heritage, and most Communists were not Jews, similarly most Nazis were not atheists and those that were atheists were most shaped by Nazism and not atheism). The motives for the Churches and social elites for adopting this constructions of Jews appears in part to be the creation of polarization against a perceived enemy, to better create internal cohesion in the face of a changing environment and internal dissidents ('nationale Sammlungspolitik' before 1945), presenting reaction as the only possible response to social change, not one of many options (i.e. taking socialism and liberalism, both seemingly compatible with non-reactionary versions of Christianity, off the table).
The contrasts drawn between Jews and Christians or Atheists and Christians are very similar, to the extent that I can tell from my limited exposure. On the one side Jewish materialism or atheist materialism, on the other side the Christian spiritual-ethical world of love, creation and salvation by the one true god. On the one side Jewish rule-bound clannish materialism or atheist scientistic materialism vs. Christian spiritual universal love. We also have the contrast between the cosmopolitan Jew or atheist vs. the deeply rooted man with his local organic and necessarily Christian culture. It would be nice to look into the exact parallels and differences in how these constructions work and where they come from, but it would take some actual reading to do so. Paul Lagarde seems to be one of the leading lights for these constructions that were picked up widely in the second half of the 19th century.
3. 19th and 20th century Antisemitism was explicitly conceived as a protest against social change perceived as imposed from the outside on communities and the Jews who took advantage this change to give themselves upward social and economic mobility and access to the public sphere (journalism, science and academia). Current Catholic anti-atheism seems similarly conceived, as a protest against unjust and externally imposed capitalist and unethical change and the people who defend and promote it, as well as use these changes for upward social and economic mobility and access to the public sphere (journalism, science and academia).
4. I'm not claiming that the Catholic Church has a history and doctrinal base that necessarily requires it to construct these distorted demonizations of Jews and atheists, but it is a possible construction the Church seems open to. The Church could go elsewhere as well, I hope. It might be worth giving it a try, though it might take more work to tread new ground that to rehash the past under a new heading.
This post clearly needs more work, in particular trying to figure out more what is true beside just being plausible, but I thought I'd put it up. One final issue: the fact that Christian and German antisemitism ended in a ethical and political disaster for Germany isn't an argument the the Church got its antisemitism fundamentally wrong, it could instead be that only elements malfunctioned in unforeseen circumstances, but that the strategy is actually superior to others available to the Church. Nor does the analogy I construct above between the structure of antisemitism and anti-atheism, in itself, prove anything about the Church's anti-atheism. Instead, this is all just a pointer to where to look further.
Not that I'm going to write it up now, but Mixa's Easter sermon did inspire me to read around a bit about the Zentrum party in the 1928-33 period, though I'd like to read more. The party faced a significantly challenging environment, but in terms of how things came out they don't look good, with a turn in a clerical right wing direction by 1928, before the Great Depression, and a tendency towards 'Nationale Sammlungspolitik' in concert with the NSDAP as the other large non-socialist party and a refusal to work with less strong bourgois parties against the NSDAP when push came to shove. Anti-communism, anti-liberalism and anti-atheism ('Sittlichkeit' and all that, a Volksempfinden shared with large parts of the NSDAP is seems, phrased as anti-Jewish materialism in both cases) the desire to preserve and secure the Church's organizational powers, especially its presence in public schools, came far above support for a failing electoral democracy or a desire to keep the NSDAP out of power by non-democratic means. At the same time the Church was very aware that the NSDAP was deeply problematic and pronounced bans on Catholics becoming members of the Party, but gave up on this stance and blessed the new order in 1933. So we have complicity and compromise in the face of a good awareness of evil.
I can see why things came out this way, but it is deeply ironic to be then subjected to Easter sermons about how the Catholic Church is the foundation for ethical choice while atheists are doomed to evil and error.
And then there are the post-WWII ratlines to help seemingly bad parts of the Nazi regime establish new identities, run by Catholic clergy pretty openly doing this job. It would be nice to know more, especially about how these clergy and the Church saw their role and purpose here. This includes enough people that it is more than a few exceptions, for instance:
Also it appears lots of connections between Rom and fascists remnants in Croatia.
Again, I can see how these things happen -- running the Catholic Church in Europe 1914-50 is a hard and difficult job --, but they ought to develop a better story line about what happened than what Mixa is propagating. This sort of thing makes me wounder how the Church learns, or fails to learn, from its history.
When the Catholic Church goes after atheism as evil (see Mixa below or Mueller, what appears to be a widespread talking point in the Catholic Church right now), it is no longer going after a small minority. For instance, from a 2005 Eurobarometer poll, showing believers in god are now a minority in Germany, with 25% not believing in god, with the rest believing in non-Christian god-like forces or refusing the take a stance. Again, it would be nice to break out West and East Germany. There are strong age, sex and education gradients in Europe overall, with more young, male and educated atheists, so atheists may now even outnumber theists among the young and educated in Germany (but it would be nice to see the crosstabs for Germany). So it looks like the Catholic Church may face a losing struggle to in maintaining that Germany is a Christian country with entrenched privileges for the large Christian churches and what most people understand as a fundamentally Christian culture (as opposed to say a post-Christian culture).
For context, here is Bischof Dr. Gerhard L. Müller trying to claim Germany is a necessarily Christian nation (which suggests why Muslims building mosques is seen as so scary by some):
Update #1: Malta, the country with the most religious population in the Europe, still has this in its constitution, Article 2:
(1) The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic
(2) The authorities of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church
have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and
which are wrong.
(3) Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith
shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory
Die Welt reports on bishop Walter Mixa's -- chief Catholic Priest of the Bundeswehr -- Easter sermon:
Der Augsburger Bischof Walter Mixa hat vor einem zunehmend aggressiven Atheismus in Deutschland gewarnt. "Wo Gott geleugnet oder bekämpft wird, da wird bald auch der Mensch und seine Würde geleugnet und missachtet. Eine Gesellschaft ohne Gott ist die Hölle auf Erden", sagte der Militärbischof in seiner Osterpredigt in der Augsburger Marienkathedrale.
Atheisten versuchten die Realität der Auferstehung von den Toten und
der Erlösung vom Bösen in das Reich der Mythen und der Fantasie zu
schieben. Wer aber dem Menschen den Glauben an Gott nehme, nehme ihm
das Wichtigste im Leben, sagte Mixa. Wer den Glauben an den
menschgewordenen, am Kreuz gestorbenen und von den Toten auferstandenen
Christus leugne, wende sich letztlich gegen das Heil des Menschen.
"Die Unmenschlichkeit des praktizierten Atheismus haben im vergangenen Jahrhundert die gottlosen Regime des Nationalsozialismus und des Kommunismus mit ihren Straflagern, ihrer Geheimpolizei und ihren Massenmorden in grausamer Weise bewiesen", sagte der Augsburger Bischof. Immer seien in diesen Systemen die Christen und die Kirche besonders verfolgt worden.
Auch in der Gegenwart würden durch gottlose Verhaltensweisen in allen Teilen der Welt Menschen wirtschaftlich und moralisch ausgebeutet, wenn etwa Kinder zum Kriegsdienst oder Frauen zur Prostitution gezwungen würden, wenn gerechter Lohn verweigert werde oder Menschen an Hunger sterben müssten. Ohne christlichen Glauben gebe es dauerhaft keine wahre Menschlichkeit, sagte Mixa.
„Ohne Gott ist alles erlaubt“, zitierte Mixa den russischen Dichter Dostojewski. Wo der christliche Glaube schwinde, komme deshalb nicht das „helle Licht irgendeiner fröhlichen Aufklärung“ zum Vorschein.
I'm never sure what to make of stuff like this. At some level you'd expect the Catholic Church to claim that all atheists are inherently and essentially extremely evil, but still...it does raise the question about what one should do when an institution and its leaders, even or especially if it is because they are confused about how the world works, put you on their enemy list.
Finally, to be picky (and I'd be happier if I had the full text of the sermon, not just press accounts), what's the deal with
Immer seien in [den gottlosen Regimen des Nationalsozialismus und des Kommunismus] die Christen und die Kirche besonders verfolgt worden.
What special persecution of Christians as Christians and the Church is Mixa talking about? I can see incidental persecution of Christians and a general suppression of the autonomy of large non-Party organizations, but 'special' persecution of the Church? How about the special persecution of the Handwerksverbaende? I'm sure parts of their leadership were taken down as well. Indeed, the Third Reich seems to have carved out a special zone of autonomy and cooperation with the two main Christan churches, more so than for any other non-Party organizations.
And since Mixa cannot claim Hitler was a philosophical atheist -- a bad and fallen Catholic maybe, or a charismatic leader of a new form of religion, but that doesn't amount to philosophical atheism--, Mixa calls Hitler a 'practicing atheist' despite the fact that the appeals in Nazi Germany to faithless rationalism were, well, limited. Nor is there isn't any evidence I'm aware of that Hitler denied, as Mixa puts it,
den Glauben an den menschgewordenen, am Kreuz gestorbenen und von den Toten auferstandenen Christus leugnete.
though there are pretty strong indications that Hitler didn't like what the Catholic Church made of Jesus. Hitler doesn't deny Jesus' divinity, he was going to take it away from the Catholic Church. But he did not get there by 1945. The vast majority of Nazis were Christians in the two main German Churches and never considered themselves atheists, philosophical or practical.
Dealing with fascism wasn't the Catholic Churches most glorious hour -- which doesn't make the Church particularly bad compared to other organizations, but it seems odd to try to claim a special heroic victim role here. In 1933 fascism does appear to be seen by the Catholic Church as less of a threat than communism and less bad than the now apparently vanquished liberalism. In 1933 the Catholic Zentrum party in the Reichstag voted 72 out of 74 for the Ermächtigungsgesetz, providing the biggest pro-Hitler voting block after the NSDAP and a sufficiently large voting block to have voted down the law, with Zentrum suspicion about the NSDAP and Hitler in part overcome by sympathy for their anti-communist actions and in part by promises of Church autonomy in the new regime, as well as a recognition of the new power realities in Germany. Indeed, I'd not be totally surprised if even by the late 1930s many high level Catholic functionaries still thought of godless liberalism and communism, not fascism, as the main enemy of faith, though by 1937 Hitler seems to be setting off the Church's alarm bells quite strongly, especially as a result of Catholics leaving the Church in Germany, but this is not due to the abolition of democracy in 1933 but rather due to the radicalization of nationalism and the threat this posed the supranational Church in subsequent years. Some more evidence would be nice, but that's my sense of it. And what was the Church's stance on Franco's Spain? From all that I know the Church only started complaining about the lack of political parties or lack of electoral democracy after Vatican II.
See the 1937 Pius XI.'s Enzyklika Mit brennender Sorge for the Church's complaints at the time. (Englich version) The Church does seem quite alarmed by the movement to bring German Catholics into a 'positive German Christianity' beyond Rome.
To finish, when did electoral democracy become something the Catholic Church deems obligatory or which the Church strongly suggests? Or does it depend on circumstances -- which would be an understandable view?
Shorter Mixa: vote for Hitler as a deeply problematic but necessary ally in the struggle against atheist communism in 1933 and then complain about how atheists caused the Nazi problem. I can see how the Catholic Church would support a vote for Hitler in 1933, but don't turn around and then blame me for it.
Update #1: why not quote Hitler's speech on March 24, 1033, on the passage of the Ermächtigungsgesetz:
Hitler sounds more in concert with Mixa than with materialist atheists to me.
Update #2: I googled to see reactions to Mixa's speech, and the response is pretty close to 100% negative. There are potential supporters out there who just post the news report of the speech without comment, but I didn't see any support.
I do see the comment that Mixa claiming that
Atheisten versuchten die Realität der Auferstehung von den Toten und der Erlösung vom Bösen in das Reich der Mythen und der Fantasie zu schieben. Wer den Glauben an den menschgewordenen, am Kreuz gestorbenen und von den Toten auferstandenen Christus leugne, wende sich letztlich gegen das Heil des Menschen.
is somewhat anti-semetic and anti-Muslim as well, not just anti-atheist, since Judaism and Islam deny the resurrection of Christ (though not the coming resurrection with the Day of Judgment) as well.
This whole episode reminds me of the view that institutions seeking the one and only way to human salvation or "das Heil des Menschen" are a dangerous and potentially totalitarian project, be they Nazi, Soviet or Christian. I'm up for institutions trying to solve human problems while leaving dubious 'this way is the only way' salvation projects to the private realm.
To close, one of those aggressively atheist cartoons:
Less Wrong writes:
Religion is what you get when you push totally for non-evidential memetic success. All ties to reality are essentially cut. As a result, all the other dials can be pushed up to 11. God is not just wise, nice, and powerful - he is all knowing, omnibenificent, and omnipotent. Heaven and Hell are not just pleasant and unpleasant places you can spend a long time in - they are the very best possible and the very worst possible experiences, and for all eternity. Religion doesn't just make people better; it is the sole source of morality. And so on; because all of these things happen "offstage", there's no contradictory evidence when you turn the dials up, so of course they'll end up on the highest settings.
This freedom is theism's defining characteristic. Even the most stupid pseudoscience is to some extent about "evidence": people wouldn't believe in it if they didn't think they had evidence for it, though we now understand the cognitive biases and other effects that lead them to think so. That's why there are no homeopathic cures for amputation.
I'm not sure if this is totally true -- religions seems to face lots of constraints on what they can claim, including evidential ones. Evidence just doesn't work quite the same the way as in other fields, but the differences are a lot subtler than described here -- what is the best way to describe how it does work?
Sullivan writes without supporting evidence
Do we have any evidence on this issue? Who does enter the priesthood and how did they do in school?