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Old 24th April 2008, 09:41 AM   #1
gareth_jones76
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I just had an interesting conversation with a colleague (Raoul) from Zaragona who has been working here in the UK for 5 years who thinks that religion is more important/powerful in the UK than it is in Spain - Discuss!

I thought it might make an interesting topic for a podcast. Raoul's opinion is based on several things such as the fact that we claim to be secular but have 80 Bishops in the House of Lords and also because of events such as the blocking of laws allowing gay-marriages in church.

My opinion had always been that Spain being a catholic country, religion was far more important to the spanish than to the british but now I am not so sure.
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Old 25th April 2008, 01:05 PM   #2
Marina
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Hi Gareth,

I think the religion in Spain has still a big influence in our culture, like in the fiestas, processions, or in the language - lots of expressions related to god or the church - but I would say that in general my generation is quite disconnected from the church, but of course there are exceptions.

For example lots of people would get married in a church but wouldn't go to mass at all for some years before the event, or they would form part of a religion procession but again they might not visit their local church for months. What I mean is that some people in Spain keep related somehow to the church because they feel they have, or maybe their families expect them to, but not because the want to.

I'm not very aware of the religion situation in the UK, I've only been to churches there for a few weddings and a couple of funerals, and I have to say that I find the masses much more personal. I think one of the problems why religion is not succeeding in Spain is because the church and the priests are not adapting at all to the new times, and still go on and on about what you should don and what you shouldn't trying to make people obey by fear, but I don't think that works any more.

Any more opinions out there.


By the way, I think your friend's name might be written like this: Raúl.
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Old 25th April 2008, 01:21 PM   #3
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Spain certainly seems a country of dichotomies. The old and traditional living side by side with the cutting edge and new. The balance seems to work more harmoniously in Spain than in the US, where the two seem to be at odds with each other. I'm not a religious person but the increased presence of religion in Spain is less invasive than the religious expressions encountered in the US. I agree with Marina in that a lot of the religious practices are more culturally driven and less out of personal conviction in Spain, with exceptions of course. Maybe the grass is greener but I much prefer how religion exists in the society of Spain than within the US.
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Old 25th April 2008, 03:44 PM   #4
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I agree with the previous posts. Religion has traditionally had an enormous influence in Spanish culture and folklore and, in a way, still plays an important role in most of the local celebrations to which Spaniards are so keen to adhere.

However, contrary to the image that it has projected in foreign countries, Spain is far from being inhabited by Catholic fundamentalists, rather the opposite. I do not know about the UK, but anti-clericalism is and has been further widespread in Spain than in most of the European countries.

It should not be forgotten that the Church has always seeked (and still does) a political involvement with which many Spaniards do not agree. Also, from the times of the infamous Inquisición, the church has been a powerful instrument of repression from which only in the last few decades most of the population was set free.
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Old 25th April 2008, 05:01 PM   #5
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I think communism, the Republic and Franco still has a big issue within Spain.

I know my Father in Law doesn`t go to Church because of the position they took during Franco`s time.

Many families in Spain still remember close relatives murdered by the Falange, which still killed people in the 70`s.

All with the Catholic churches authority, which included the then Pope`s knowledge, which may have been a response to the Republic who burn`t churches and killed many hundreds priests.

As for the younger generations I believe that whilst many view there religion important, they still view the institution outdated.

Many go to church on important days, but most general services are attended by the old generation.

And as long as a catholic confesses before death, they don`t need to be breached at by a priest ever Sunday.

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Old 25th April 2008, 06:50 PM   #6
Juanjo
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[quote=Marina;49162]Hi Gareth,
I think the religion in Spain has still a big influence in our culture, like in the fiestas, processions,

But not necessary for spiritual reasons!

My research indicates that the Spanish practice of much of the Roman Catholic religion, at least in Andalucia, is based on a pagan heritage. The image of sacrifice in Semana Santa reflects pagan death/renewal rites at the start of the new agricultural year; the strong devotion to Mariology reflects previous pagan devotion to the Earth Mother; "El entierro de la sardina" is a similar death/renewal rite and so on. Each traditional religious festival can usually be traced back to a pre-Christian rite.

The role of "carnaval" is also a particularly interesting study area. Carnaval's licence to ignore normal standards of behaviour, to reverse sexual and power roles, to indulge in abnormal social behaviours for a strictly limited period, to insult those in power without being castigated, were all safety valves for populations repressed for eleven months of the year by feudal and/or religious authority.

In this way the "Establishment" could avoid riots and insurrection yet were able to reestablish iron control at the end of Carnival. It is no accident that the Church imposed the strict rules of Lent to start immediately after Mardi Gras, probably the most hedonistic day of the year.

Institutionalised religion (as opposed to faith) is a form of politics, claiming divine authority and manipulating the faith of its adherents to achieve contemporary secular objectives.

Juanjo
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Old 25th April 2008, 07:17 PM   #7
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I've met converts to Islam both in Spain and in the UK. It'd be interesting to find out what percentage of the population go atheist or actually convert to another religion eg Islam.
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Old 25th April 2008, 07:32 PM   #8
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Institutionalised religion (as opposed to faith) is a form of politics, claiming divine authority and manipulating the faith of its adherents to achieve contemporary secular objectives. Juanjo
Right now - in the States - we are witnessing BOTH (institutionalized religion as well as faith) being cynically manipulated "to achieve contemporary secular objectives" i.e. the total obliteration of a political candidate.
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Old 25th April 2008, 07:48 PM   #9
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Right now - in the States - we are witnessing BOTH (institutionalized religion as well as faith) being cynically manipulated "to achieve contemporary secular objectives" i.e. the total obliteration of a political candidate.
Well, yes. But it there something else to obliterate the candidate I am sure it would be gleefully done by the respective campaigns.

I think I will go listen to Don Heanly's "Dirty Laundry" now


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Old 25th April 2008, 10:04 PM   #10
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Just had another thought but will continue in spanish as I find that doing so (and gratefully receiving all corrections, is -for me - a fantastic discipline) Así espero que no dé ofensa a nadie por cambiando en el medio del hilo.....

No puedo imaginarme que hoy en día España o Gran Bretaña interpondrían los temas de la fe y la religión dentro de sus campañas politicas. (O....quizá ¿ yo esté incorrecta? ¿Que opináis?)
Pero si eso es el caso, EE.UU está acercando (despacio pero a la vez, seguramente) a un clima de intimidación y calumnia - como lo que existían en España durante el tiempo de Franco.... mientras que España está disfrutando los beneficios salubrosos de una sociedad abierta y libre - los quales están dando por sentado por los americanos (es asegurado por la constititución americana ) pero en el nombre de "fe" y de "religión" están siendo erosionados.
No quiero exagerar pero veo un peligro........

Last edited by Margot; 26th April 2008 at 01:24 AM.
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Old 28th April 2008, 07:50 AM   #11
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Así espero que no dé ofensa a nadie por cambiando en el medio del hilo.....
Espero que nadie se ofenda por cambiarlo en medio del hilo
(I hope this is correct... I am not native either...)

A quick thought on the subject of this thread. I did not expect Spain to be particularly religious when I first settled in there, especially as I lived in Madrid and I find that larger cities tend to be less religious than rural areas for instance.

However, for a country that is supposed to promote freedom of religion - as stipulated in its Constitution (article 16) - I was surprised to see how much weight the Catholic Church still seems to have in the Spanish politics.

An example: I do not know if this has changed since then, but a friend once told me that when she was a child (at the time, the Constitution had already been set), she was attending a state school (so, not private and not religious) and there was a crucifix in the classroom.

I have always found this sort of details surprising.
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Old 28th April 2008, 12:28 PM   #12
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The progressives in the US continue to aim for a freer society that isn't couched in any particular religion, but the conservatives continue to try to make religion the source of decision making. It can be quite a handicap on the progress of a society.

Last edited by ValenciaSon; 28th April 2008 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 28th April 2008, 02:42 PM   #13
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Might I recommend a book I have just finished called "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. For sure, anyone with any sense will, after reading the book, just stop believing. Not that I did anyway, but he manages to crystallize all the arguments. And the book reads well, not at all an academic work.
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Old 28th April 2008, 07:24 PM   #14
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Here's an interview with an interesting person of religion who will be slighted and distorted by the republican political machine.
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Old 28th April 2008, 08:35 PM   #15
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Might I recommend a book I have just finished called "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. For sure, anyone with any sense will, after reading the book, just stop believing. Not that I did anyway, but he manages to crystallize all the arguments. And the book reads well, not at all an academic work.
Be careful not to bring it to Saudi if you take a trip back.
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Old 29th April 2008, 06:03 AM   #16
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I'm not a religious person but the increased presence of religion in Spain is less invasive than the religious expressions encountered in the US.
Remember that it depends on which side of the glass you are looking through. I find, as a christian, that judeo-christian ideals and traditions are being torn away left and right and that less and less people are practicing christians (i.e, followers of Christ not "religious").

I can see a counterpoint and remind myself daily (sometimes failing) that the greatest cause of aetheism ARE christians.

If I say "love thy neighbor" and then pummel a gay man with hate, what does that say? That does not mean that I have to "approve" of his lifestyle or vote in favor of gay marriage. It does mean that I have to love the "sinner" and hate the "sin" just like someone may hate that I smoke or curse or look at naked ladies.

I believe that that is the hardest thing for believers and non-believers to understand. I can be kind to you and respect you without agreeing with what you do and just because I don't agree with what you do, doesn't mean that I hate you.

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Right now - in the States - we are witnessing BOTH (institutionalized religion as well as faith) being cynically manipulated "to achieve contemporary secular objectives" i.e. the total obliteration of a political candidate.
I believe that, when a candidate runs for president, he needs to be scrutinized. Whether he be too religious or not religious enough or the "wrong" faith or the "wrong" pastor. People need to know as much about them as can be dug up.

In the case of Obama, I may not vote for him simply because I don't agree with him on the issues but others may be on the fence between him and Hillary and they deserve to make the choice based on as much information as comes out. In November, one or the other will have to go against the third democrat, McCain, and there will be questions of religion, sex, backdoor deals, business acquaintances, experience, age, etc.

It is not all about religion. Hillary was attacked for being a liar and Whitewater and I'm sure that, after these two duke it out, somebody will come up with something about McCain not liking chocolate ice cream or Obama not wearing underwear.

It's funny how we get this information overload every 4 years but most of us don't know whether or not our city councilman even went to college.

Take what's important to you and toss out the rest. I want to know which one of them believes in aliens!
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Old 29th April 2008, 10:05 AM   #17
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The picture in Britian I think is much as William Wilberforce lamented centuries ago. He said that if good morals were put before an understanding of the purpose of the Cross, we would rapidly lose all morality. Historically that is observable, and now with almost no understanding of what the death of Jesus is all about, the boundaries of what is socially acceptable become further and further out there. Logical, if no-one agrees any longer in what a moral standard should look like.
The Cross says we can't live up to a moral standard and so its purpose is to substitute our inability for Jesus perfect righteousness and afterwards, by relying on that transaction, we then have a relationship with God. A change in behaviour then comes out of that relationship, NOT preceding it and definitely not what acquires it. This is the point missed by many critics of Christianity. It isn't about being compelled to do good in order to be acceptable to God, it is about God making us acceptable first, through the Cross, and after that starting point, life being changed by God's life within.
Wilberforce wrote in his book "A Practical View of Christianity", which I think dates from the 1780's or 1790's, that the reason many Christians in England were only nominal Christians was because they had abandoned the necessity of the Cross in favour of a system of ethics and thus lost the power of living well. Well, I am sure no-one will like too much "preaching" on here so I had better shut up; but I think that the majority view is that Christianity is just about rules and regulations which are now considered out-of-date. That view really misses the main point.
The picture in Britain now is that we don't have any understanding of the Cross, NOR do we have much of a system of ethics. As Wilberforce predicted, we have "withering and decay" (his words) of morality, by, as he called it a "fatal habit" of putting ethics before the Cross.
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Old 29th April 2008, 10:37 AM   #18
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but I think that the majority view is that Christianity is just about rules and regulations which are now considered out-of-date.
Well stated.

"Rules without relationship breeds rebellion"

I think that is what has happened as "the church" has done its best to either have just the "rules" and alienate just about everybody or have just the "relationship" and, while loving everybody as they should, not being willing to teach the rules at all. "If it feels good, do it. Just be sure to bring your tithes into the storehouse".
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Old 29th April 2008, 11:03 AM   #19
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The progressives in the US continue to aim for a freer society that isn't couched in any particular religion, but the conservatives continue to try to make religion the source of decision making. It can be quite a handicap on the progress of a society.
How is it freer if you take away my right to base my decisions on what I believe in?

I have no problem, when you and I come to the table to discuss <fill in the blank>, if you are against it because it is too religious for your liking or it is too "methodist" or too "catholic" but what you are inhibiting is exactly what you and most of the liberals constantly get wrong...FREEDOM OF RELIGION!

I have the right to chose my religion, to practice it, and to let it influence my decisions as I choose. It is very hypocritical of you to say that I can't base my decisions on my beliefs. If not on my beliefs, then on what should I base them? Yours? Wouldn't that be doing to me what you accuse me of doing to you?

Disagree, please, but don't dare tell me that I shouldn't vote for this man or that woman or this issue or that because I believe it is right because I have chosen to believe this doctrine and not yours. You would, hopefully, do the same. I don't want you to vote for the ten commandments to be displayed in the classroom if you don't believe it to be right just like I hope you would want me to vote for it because I do think it is right. It would be ludicrous for either of us to do otherwise.
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Old 29th April 2008, 12:32 PM   #20
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Well it just so happens that we live in the most religiously free country in the world so I don't know how the religious have any basis to complain about the further pursuits of their faith, unless it involves imposing their beliefs on others and ignoring the separation of church and state as intended by the forefathers of the US. From scrutinizing a political candidate's religious stance, corrupting science education to denying healthcare and preventing lawful marriages for those who otherwise share their lives as much if not more than the "traditional" couples barely begins to describe how religion can and does stifle our society.
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