[Buddha-l] For the free movement of gods

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Fri Aug 13 15:25:09 MDT 2010

Dear RB

"What should be the relation between religion and the state in
21st-century Europe?" 

As far as I recall, European states do not plonk cross (crucifix)
statues all over their landscapes, as many a locale here in the
USA does, and as Southeast Asian states do with Buddha
images--some gigantic and slathered with shiny gold paint,
seeable from far afar.

Good question. Offhand, I should think that Italy, from its
origins being a Roman Catholic country, could allow its crosses
in schools to be grandfathered and let alone. Once I participated
in an ACLU debate about an old Ten Commandments sculpture,
plonked as I recall next to a local courthouse in some rural
venue of Idaho. It dated from the 1800s. My view was, leave it
alone, grandfather it as a historical reminder of the state's
early denizens. Others must have agreed with me because they
dropped their vendetta against it. 
That's not all about 10 Commandments statues in Idaho, another
one in a public park didn't make out to suit the local
evangelistas, but I'll leave it at that for now.


 On Behalf Of R B Basham
Sent: Friday, August 13, 2010 2:50 PM

I have been reading, via RSS feed, Press Europe as much for its
content as 'flavor'. This commentary, though thoroughly an
Abrahamic perspective, seemed a nice contrast with similar USAn


For the free movement of gods
13 August 2010 Die Zeit Hamburg; Jan Ross

[Photo caption: Confronted by a multiplicity of religions and
their symbols, most states choose to forbid them. But in doing
so, they are heading toward an impasse, claims Die Zeit while
pleading for tolerance and pluralism. ]

Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Malta, Russia, San Marino and
Cyprus are to appear before the European court of human rights.
The issue in question concerns whether crucifixes should be
forbidden in Italian classrooms, as they allegedly constitute a
violation of each state's legally-mandated neutral impartiality.
The countries that feel directly implicated in the issue have
joined the defendant, Italy, and are represented by the eminent
European jurist Joseph Weiler, himself a practicing Jew.

Here is a case in point of how rich and paradoxical Europe's
ideological landscape has become. Religions not only compete with
each other, they sometimes join to form alliances: a Jew shows
support for a symbol of the Christian faith, and Orthodox
Bulgarians come out in favour of Italian Catholics. Globalisation
and open borders have brought out a number of conflicts where
different faiths meet. The most interminable of these conflicts
throughout Europe centres on the question of Muslim identity,
continually harped upon by Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders, who
dramatically exposes the latest ideological fissures. But at
least one valid question is hidden behind this rhetoric: What
should be the relation between religion and the state in
21st-century Europe?


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