Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

A friend of mine and organizer of the 1st Greek Mythicist Conference asked me today to translate the following article from their blog concerning a censorship attempt by the greek far right Golden Dawn party. The attempt was of course doomed to fail, as the Greek Constitution does not permit such interventions in private events, and it is more likely that the attempt was made at all just to placate the fundamentalist Orthodox base of the party, but it is still an unpalatable and troublesome development. Keep reading for the Greek Mythicists announcement.

Read On »

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Now this is something you don’t see every day.

The Atheist Union of Greece (AUG) typically makes press releases and sends letters to public officials regarding matters in its fields of interest, but this was the first time a meeting was arranged face to face with an elected representative.

On August 6th two members of the AUG, the president (Fotis Frangopoulos) and the treasurer (Antonis Markouizos) met with the Deputy Minister of Culture, Education and Religions (Tasos Kourakis) and discussed several issues, the most important of which was the continuing problems students face when trying to get an exemption from religious education in all three levels and 12 years of public education (elementary school, junior high and high school).

The Deputy Minister was reportedly friendly, the discussion lasted about 30 minutes and and the AUG was promised that the Ministry would try to resolve the issue as swiftly as possible. I should note that a promise from a politician pretty much means jack shit in Greece (pardon the French) even under normal political conditions, let alone the current tumultuous situation (as I’m writing this the government has resigned, trying to renew its approval with national elections on September 20th). In any case, however, it was a first step and that should not get overlooked.

I have translated the text presented to the Deputy Minister below, but before you read it you should probably check out this article first, since it describes the various ways Orthodox Christianity intersects with school life in Greece. Originally it was intended to be included here, but it grew rather lengthy and I placed it apart. If you want to learn even more about Orthodoxy and its role in the modern Greek State, you can check out this article as well.

Read On »

Read Full Post »

With the end of the 2015 National Elections in Greece, it became a point of interest that Greece elected their first ever openly atheist Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. While this is mildly interesting (mostly since I’m more inclined to believe that Tsipras’ atheism is an outgrowth of his marxist past than any real philosophical reflection) it is important for people to understand the history that has shaped the current entangled relations between the Orthodox Church and the Hellenic Republic and why this creates special challenges for the secularization of the country.

Hopefully the following article will help you understand the complex interaction between Orthodoxy, the greek national identity and the government.

And in order to do that we have to start our historical journey way back, in the era of the roman and byzantine emperors. Yes, the seeds of the current situation were planted all the way back in 313 A.D., when Emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan.

Two notes: All unsourced images are public domain images from Wikipedia; the word “Church” is used with two meanings: before the establishment of the Greek State, it refers to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, after that it’s a reference to the Church of Greece.

Read On »

Read Full Post »

You must have heard by now. The Greek National Elections came and went. Today Greece has a new Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras) as the head of a new ruling coalition between his party, the “Coalition of the Radical Left” (SY.RIZ.A.) and the “Independent Greeks” (AN.EL.). I’ll let the political pundits and the economists deal with that this will mean for the EU, the bailout and the local and european economies. I’d rather focus on the significance of the elections on the secularism front.

And I have to say that despite the julibations caused by today’s secular ministerial installment in the greek and international atheist community, I remain skeptical. SYRIZA is too much of a mixed bag to warrant anything other than the mildest of optimistic approaches.

Read On »

Read Full Post »

This season brought us some strange rulings from the Hellenic Supreme Court of Cassation (aka “Areus Pagus”). One I personally find hardly surprising and the other came as quite a shock.

First off, a clarification: Areus Pagus is not like the SCOTUS. It only deals with civil and criminal cases; the constitutionality of legislation is judged by a different court, the Council of State. Second, it has an icon of Jesus hanging over the judges, but that’s a different story entirely. The Italians have been fighting against this for quite some time with hardly any results, so I’m not confident at all about Greece making any sort of progress on this issue.

Generally speaking, Areus Pagus has a good reputation in greek society and is relatively well-respected, but has a history of having Themis (the greek equivalent of Justitia) peek under its blindfold and put a finger on her scales in cases where political issues are being considered.

Read On »

Read Full Post »

Here’s a treat for the occasional english-speaking reader (or just a passer-by). It’s an article written by Associate Professor Victor Roudometof of the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Cyprus. The article, entitled “Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Uses of the Past in Contemporary Greece”, was published in the “Religions” Journal (2011, vol.2) on May 11th, 2011.

If you’re American and used to debating with Church-State separation as a given, you might find the contents of the article quite disturbing (given that such separation is virtually non-existent in Greece). In any case it should make for an interesting read.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity
and the Uses of the Past
in Contemporary Greece

Abstract: The article examines the use of Orthodox Christianity in the debates over the cultural heritage of contemporary Greece. Since the birth of modern Greece, Orthodox Christianity has been used as one of the foundational cultural markers for the construction of Modern Greek national identity. This employment of religion is particularly evident in the case of history in its popularized format. In contemporary cultural politics, debates over the building of a mosque in Athens or the role of Orthodoxy in history textbooks offer particular illustrations of the public significance of Orthodox Christianity. This high profile role was particularly pronounced during the reign of the late Archbishop Christodoulos (1998–2008). The article suggests that the engagement and influence of the Church on public debates depends upon the nature of the affair: The Church enjoys more authority in ecclesiastical issues and is far less influential on issues of broader interest, such as geopolitical disputes.

The full article is open to the general public and can be read here (in PDF form).

Read On »

Read Full Post »