Comment: Freedom Caravan and defending religious liberty in Romania

A recent announcement by the Adventist Church reads:

As Romanian legislators consider changes to the national constitution, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is sponsoring a mass promotion of religious liberty with a marathon of town hall meetings, university lectures and inter-faith consultations… Even though Romania has taken important steps in promoting religious liberty, we must stay alert to make sure that the principles of religious liberty stay untainted. […] Main changes to the constitution could include revising the president’s role and the prime minister’s method for nominating the president. But a few activists are also calling for the Orthodox Church to become the national religion. Though experts say this proposal isn’t likely to become law, Romania’s constitution up until 1923 did mentioned the Orthodox Church as the country’s official church. Various attempts over the years to reinstate the church as the state religion were rejected by parliament.

It is not clear to me or the Adventists’ site whether they are against or in favor of the Orthodox religion becoming the religion of state but presumably they are against it. They probably shouldn’t be.

I think making the Orthodox Church the state religion might be a good thing for all Christians in Romanian though I doubt it will ever happen. It would defend Romania against people who want EU countries to be multi-faith and post-Christian. See this story of halos not being allowed on Slovakian euros, for example. But note that the EU will still prevent halos on Romanian euros, if Romania is unfortunate enough one day to join the Euro.

What a lot of awful things the future has in store for Romania! At the moment Romanians consider being Orthodox is almost part of being Romanian, just as in Ireland Catholicism is a patriotism as well as a religion. In thirty or fifty years time the idea that Europe and Christendom were once coterminous will seem quaint.

I am so glad I am English because we have such wonderful and old institutions, including not just the monarchy and the universities and common law system but an intellectual conversation that goes back centuries. And I would even add the class system, which in an increasingly diverse and multiracial country holds things to some extent together. Romania has so few institutions older than 1870 or so and most of them do not command a great deal of respect. At the moment, the Romanian Orthodox Church is the only institution that, polls show, is greatly respected, but prosperity and the EU will probably lead to Romania becoming secularized like everywhere else in Europe. Immigration of Asians into Romania, which is proceeding apace, will lead to more non-Christians.

But having an established church has not saved England from nativity plays being canceled or people being disciplined for wearing crucifixes. Despite the Swedish state church, things are similar there.

Far off on the Romanian horizon can be seen what Pope Benedict XVI called the dictatorship of relativism. There are signs too that a genuinely left-wing intellectual movement will start up in reaction to the lack of ideas in Romanian politics and social life. It will be driven by left-wing graduates of foreign universities and will be feminist and secular. It will favor homosexual marriage and adoptions and many other things that the Orthodox Church regards as grave sins. Culture wars will come to Romania, or at least I hope there will be culture wars. In Western Europe instead of fighting culture wars, things seem to change out of recognition without much discussion being permitted.

By Paul Wood, Guest Writer

Paul Wood is the owner of Apple Search, the executive search company, and is writing a book about Bucharest where he has lived since 1998. His personal blog is here.



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