Saturday, May 10, 2008

Publico, surprisingly, has a front-page editorial that I largely agree with. "Secular" ("laíco") is a fetish-word for the Jacobin European Left that goes back to the French Revolution, and all good Jacobins, anticlericals to a man, believe in the secular state. Well, I do, too, but I think my definition of "secular" may be different from theirs. I agree that there should be no established church, and that the churches should stay out of other people's business. I don't want to tear down the Catholic Church, though, and I think the anticlericals need to accept that Catholicism is one of the bases of Spanish culture.

Here's Publico's ten commandments for the secular state:

1. No more government subsidies for Church schools. Completely agreed. The problem is that Spain doesn't have enough public schools for everybody, so one-third of the kids go to "concerted" schools, Catholic schools partly funded by the state. Changing this situation would require massive investment on the part of the state.

2. No more religion classes in the public schools. Completely agreed. Right now all schools must offer classes in Catholic doctrine, which are elective for the students. If parents want their kid to get religious training, they should send their kid to a religious school, not a public one.

3. No religious symbolism at occasions of state. Completely disagree. The example they give is Calvo-Sotelo's state funeral, held at a Catholic church and presided over by a Catholic priest. Well? Calvo-Sotelo was Catholic, and that's the kind of funeral he would have wanted. Such symbolism is basically harmless. No one is offended except people who want to get offended.

4. No state presence at religious celebrations. Completely disagree. Their example is government officials in Semana Santa processions. So what? Nothing's being imposed on anybody. If you don't like Semana Santa processions, don't watch them.

5. No more state religious holidays. Absolutely, totally disagree. Why change the tradition and make everybody angry? Believe me, nothing's going to piss off the people more than removing the holiday status of Christmas. Besides, about a third of Spaniards are observant enough to do stuff like take the day off to go to church on Good Friday; might as well make the day a holiday for everyone.

6. No Catholic representatives in non-Church institutions. Completely disagree. Their examples are Army chaplains and chapels in hospitals. It makes sense to me to allow soldiers religious consolation, and to have a priest around the hospital to administer last rites. Again, nothing's being forced on anyone; you don't have to go see the chaplain if you don't want to.

7. The state should confiscate Church property. Absolutely, totally disagree. Their example is "Who does Burgos cathedral belong to, humanity or the Church?" The Church, of course. I have no problem with state subsidies for the preservation of privately owned historical treasures, and such a program is an incredibly tiny portion of the budget anyway.

8. Make apostasy easy. Agreed, but who cares? Yes, the Church should allow people who want to un-baptize themselves and take themselves off the membership rolls. But if you're an atheist, who cares if you were baptized in the first place, since you believe it's a meaningless ceremony anyway?

9. State-owned media should not televise religious programs. I agree in the sense that there should be no state-owned media, period. I disagree in the sense that some people are interested in religious programming on Sunday morning, and the customer should get what he wants. If you don't want to watch it, turn the channel over to Playboy TV or whatever you like better. Nothing's being imposed on you.

10. The Church should be 100% self-financed. Completely and totally agree, with a few tiny exceptions such as, say, government cooperation with Church homeless shelters and such things. Right now there's a check-off box on your income tax if you want to give a euro or whatever to the church; get rid of that. If you want to give the church money, do it yourself and not through the tax system.

I think it's interesting that Publico didn't mention the divorce and abortion laws, both of which include religiously-based impediments to individual decisions.


Lluís said...

When Publico proposes similar things about Islam I may start considering their views. In the meanwhile this is western self-hatred junk.

John said...

I don't think it's Western self-hatred. I think it's a bunch of French Revolution anticlerical Jacobin-Marxists. They don't necessarily hate the West--it's the Catholic Church they don't like.