The Guardian’s Ian Traynor and John Hooper survey the church-state separation across the European Union and predict that, if secularists have won all the battles — no special mention of Christianity in the E.U. Constitution; the rejection of Rocco Buttiglione from the Human Rights Commission; the religious garb ban in France and declining influence of the Catholic Church in Spain — they may yet lose the war, especially in light of the more religious east European states gaining influence in the E.U. Experts also fear a religious right backlash in response to liberal political correctness, hinted at by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s denouncement of continental secularism, and Buttiglione’s promise to build a Christian-values movement, likely with Vatican support, whose adherents have already been named the “theo-cons.”
Gods of Nationalism
Kalyan Singh, leader of the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), today deposed before theLiberhan Commission, a 12-year old commission investigating the 1992 demolition of theBabri Mosque by a crowd of nearly one million Hindu nationalists that also killed 13 men and children during the night of riots. Hindu groups believe the 16th Century mosque was built after the destruction of a Hindu temple on the same site, in what is now the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Singh, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, denied involvement in the destruction of the mosque, but had no regrets over what he called in turns, “‘an act of God,'” and “‘ the self generated public resentment and outburst of the crushed feelings of the masses for centuries.'”
Tutu Scolds ANC
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, and South African President Thabo Mbeki have become involved in a public dispute this week, after Tutu called the African National Congress (ANC; Mbeki’s party) “elitist” for not spreading wealth beyond the top ANC elite to South Africa’s poor blacks, and for failing to condemn human-rights abuses in neighboring Zimbabwe.
Flu and the God Gap
“Those who supped from the chalice weekly or even daily were no more likely to get sick than those who got drunk the night before and slept in Sunday morning.” Jeremy Lott at Get Religion investigates the dangers of the common cup, after last week’s New York Timesarticle on flu season in the Church.
Middle of the Road Bear
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan (Rowan Bear) Williams has written to Anglican Primates, urging conservatives to change their attitudes towards gay people, and liberals to abide by the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution on human sexuality, which states that the practice of homosexuality cannot be blessed. In his letter, Williams dismissed the notion that the Anglican Communion had no choice but to “‘go their different ways, even to the point of competing with one another,'” and asked Primates to support the Anglican Covenant recenty put forth in the Windsor Report as a way to maintain “‘a unity that is neither theoretical nor tyrannical.'”
Saudi Arabia: Country on a Hill
A Pakistani political party, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, dropped its demands for the inclusion of religion on passports — after having claimed that the exclusion of the category meant Pakistan was going secular — when Pakistani minister of the state of the interior, Dr. Shahzad Wasim showed the Senate passports from Saudi Arabia, which do not specify the holder’s religion. Wasim explained the reasoning of the Saudi passports: “‘Declaring one’s religion is not the responsibility of the state. A person should declare his own religion.'” Good to see the Saudi spirit of religious freedom spreading.
Theo-Cons in Europe