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Posts Tagged ‘Church of Greece’

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.

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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.

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You can read the article in Greek, here »

According to the ΣΚΑΙ.gr website, yesterday afternoon (June 9th, 2012) 3 actors that took part in the “Corpus Christi” play, which opened in Athens last week, were arrested with the charge of blasphemy (though they were released the very same day). It is unknown who filed the charge, but a few days earlier the Synod of the Church of Greece released the following statement, about the play:

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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).

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