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 Secularism Weakening?

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PostSubject: Secularism Weakening?   Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:45 pm

Events in Turkey (see thread here) are symptomatic of secularism in Europe. Sarkozy threatened the sacred cow of France when he questioned the embedded secularism of the state. And now in Britain, Blair is questioning secular values.

Are the secularists in Turkey right in seeing themselves under attack? And do Sarkozy and Blair have any kind of mandate for questioning the cherished ideals of their respective countries? (I know Blair's not in charge anymore but I assume he's still a public figure of some repute)
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:38 pm

I was at a Lenten talk a few weeks ago where Lara Marlowe of the Irish Times was speaking on this.

I'm never too sure what to believe in regard to what Sarkozy says. He seems to flutter from one thing to the next and I don't believe he has the ability to create a major cultural shift in France.

Andrés Malraux predicted back in the 70's that the 21st century would mark the return of religion, that it would in fact be the century of religion. This seems a little far fetched, however, I can tell you for a fact that the churches will be flexing their muscles alot more over the years to come.
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:14 pm

I think you are right about that, and that in general the more scary and uncertain the world is the more people cling to religion.
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:34 pm

Yea I'd agree with you to a degree.

There are a huge variety of factors at play in the resurgence of the Churches in different areas. Marketing plays a factor, people rejecting the values of what society has become/is becoming and turning back or towards faith for the first time plays a factor, the influx of immigrants is obviously a huge factor, not just in providing numbers but in revitalising congregations.
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:55 pm

johnfás wrote:
Andrés Malraux predicted back in the 70's that the 21st century would mark the return of religion, that it would in fact be the century of religion. This seems a little far fetched, however, I can tell you for a fact that the churches will be flexing their muscles alot more over the years to come.
Do you mean they will take a more active role in policy-forming or what? CORI often make recommendations and observations but they are fairly powerless to push them through anywhere. If the Parish Pulpit started shouting again I often wonder if it would unleash something pent up alright...
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:08 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
johnfás wrote:
Andrés Malraux predicted back in the 70's that the 21st century would mark the return of religion, that it would in fact be the century of religion. This seems a little far fetched, however, I can tell you for a fact that the churches will be flexing their muscles alot more over the years to come.
Do you mean they will take a more active role in policy-forming or what? CORI often make recommendations and observations but they are fairly powerless to push them through anywhere. If the Parish Pulpit started shouting again I often wonder if it would unleash something pent up alright...

I am really referring to groups such as the IONA Institute and the Evangelical Alliance Ireland amongst others. Neither have a huge media presence yet - although the IONA Institute has achieved a degree owing to David Quinn. However, both are very well funded, and in fairness to them, full of very capable and very qualified people, both in terms of policy formation but also in terms of pushing agendas.

I don't write the above to sound negative. More power to the groups, nothing wrong with groups forming to lobby.
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:12 pm

Well hold on, what's all this? Ye're all gone David Quinn on me, has religion undergone a revival? I don't just mean a few Poles fleshing out the congregation. There have always been Catholic groups, they are one of my beloved 'new social movements' though I don't know where IONA fits in (lobby suggests money and business to me). Breda O'Brien is probably a little more intinidating than David O'Quinn, who arguments are so funny I buy the 'Irish Catholic' just to read them.

What I really want is for Johnfás to back up his statement that the Church will be flexing their muscles a lot more in future. You say it is a fact, why? I presume you're not talking about IONA wich is, after all, different from the Church itself.
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:05 pm

905 wrote:

What I really want is for Johnfás to back up his statement that the Church will be flexing their muscles a lot more in future. You say it is a fact, why? I presume you're not talking about IONA wich is, after all, different from the Church itself.

I would be of the opinion that notions of "Church" have changed, and indeed continue to do so. There has of course been a great diminishing of respect towards those who hold clerical office - particularly true in regard to the Catholic Church. This, along of course with other social factors, has had a number of implications: an erosion of the power of statements made by the centralised church; a decline in those entering vocational ministry - which has perhaps led to less qualified people entering the ministry, I do not know; a lack of respect shown by the general population towards the opinion of the centralised church and so on. I think you understand my point in that regard, it has developed quite publicly.

However, whilst there may have been a decline in the power of the centralised Church - does this mean that there are no longer committed members of the Church who seek a society reflective, or at least more reflective, of their faith based values? I would say not. Rather, the vacuum of religious influence which has been left by a rush (or a push) of the clergy from public life is being filled by others. Those others are becoming increasingly involved in Para-Church* type organisations in persuance of their aims. I would also contend, that the lay driving force of such organisations means that they are in a much better position to adequately lobby, and in many ways formulate properly thought out policy, than the traditional notion of "Church" which is rapidly rescinding to antiquity. If you look down the board of directors of organisations such as the Iona Institute (which include university professors, senior solicitors, journalists etc) I think it is correct to assume that they are a much greater force to be reckoned with than the average clergy.

We have had these Para-Church organisations pursuing aims within the Protestant Churches for many many years. They share things in common - they are generally well funded, well connected, committed and possess an ability to push an agenda and get things done - whether that agenda be positive or negative. Looking to other societies where such organisations are much more developed - USA, Australia etc - one can see the impact which they can potentially have.

I am not suggesting that the Iona Institute is going to be the defining force behind a resurgent Church, or even that the Iona Institute will have the muscle or the ability to push a strong agenda within the Irish body politic. Merely, that such organisations, currently in existence or yet to be formed, will in my opinion have an impact on the politics of future Ireland and that they are in a better position, correctly or incorrectly, to influence politics than the traditional notion of "THE Church".



Wikipedia wrote:

*Parachurch organizations are vehicles by which Christians work collaboratively both outside of and across their denominations to engage with the world in social welfare and evangelism.

These bodies can be businesses, non-profit corporations, or private associations. They generally operate without sponsorship of any particular church or association of churches, while attempting to avoid encroaching on roles traditionally belonging to churches alone. They offer centralized efficiency of mission and operation to accomplish specialized ministry tasks that independent churches without denominational or associational strength are not able to accomplish on a larger national or international scale. In classic theological terms, they are a sodality instead of a modality.

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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:23 pm

johnfás - where do you see the 'faith' in what you've described?

Certainly there is a huge cohort with faith in God who have lost faith in organised religion but I don't really see organisations such as Iona doing a lot to harness that. (Maybe you can correct me on that). Maybe that's not even the point.

Para churches (and again, please correct me) would seem from the wiki defintion not to be based on faith but on a shared morality or vision maybe. Or does that become a faith in itself when shared by a 'church' of people?

There are also increasing numbers of evangelical churches in Ireland - where do you see them playing a role?
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:43 pm

Kate P wrote:
johnfás - where do you see the 'faith' in what you've described?

Certainly there is a huge cohort with faith in God who have lost faith in organised religion but I don't really see organisations such as Iona doing a lot to harness that. (Maybe you can correct me on that). Maybe that's not even the point.

Para churches (and again, please correct me) would seem from the wiki defintion not to be based on faith but on a shared morality or vision maybe. Or does that become a faith in itself when shared by a 'church' of people?

There are also increasing numbers of evangelical churches in Ireland - where do you see them playing a role?

Where faith comes into it is, I think, a very important question Kate. I do profess a knowledge in some of these things, but not an expert knowledge so everyone feel free to pick holes in all I write.

In relation to Para-Church organisations, I think there are two types. There are those that exist to promote faith - to convert if one wishes to be crude. Examples might be Billy Graham's crusades, The Gideons, Youth for Christ, The International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (The CU's in Universities, essentially) and so on. Then there are those which seek to lobby and influence society on a more general basis. The Iona Institute might be one such an example, but more internationally you would have Focus on the Family, some Crisis Pregnancy Bodies and so on. Perhaps it is a false dichotomy, as Para-Church charities - TearFund, Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan's Purse - whilst classified as Para-Church organisations hold elements on both sides of the definition I have given, the extent to which might be a personal judgement.

Where does faith fit into these organisations. I think that faith is at the heart of them all. The manner in which it manifests itself is very different I would contend differs in regard to the two differing types of organisation which I have described above - admittedly in a crude and rudimentary fashion. For the organisations which seek to 'convert' - their faith is clear. In whatever fashion of their choosing they are all essentially seeking to display and share what they see as the glory of God and indeed the right way to live, with the masses in society - their faith, is at the forefront of all they do. The second type of organisation, I would contend might be slightly different. Rather than faith being at the forefront of such organisations, it provides the backbone. Faith, and all that faith entails to their understanding of a moral order, provides the guidance and the inspiration for their understanding of the world and how the world should be. They then use this faith to construct - or advocate a prior construction - policy based agendas on how society should be.

Your question on when do these organisations become Church is also a very interesting question. It is in fact one which I have in the past entered into conflict with what one could describe as a Para-Church organisation about [I felt they overstepped the parameters] Razz . Looking to the early Church - that in the New Testament - it is apparent that their understanding was that any body of believers, in fellowship constituted Church. I think there is an emerging body of people who have, as you say, become disillusioned with organised religion, who are beginning to demonstrate this view. Yet, contradictorily, it is the organised manner in which this occurs which might be its downfall! The "Emerging Church" in the USA would be an example of this. Just a glance at the Wikipedia article on the issue tells one that the Emerging Church seeks to engage the post-churched. However, when an organisation like it becomes so big, I would contend it virtually becomes a post-church-church!

I think the paragraph above, whilst a totally incoherent ramble (sorry I'm studying the law of Equity at the same time!), indicates a potential problem for growing para-church organisations - what happens when they tread on the toes of the Church? For the most part though, these organisations fill gaps where the Church cannot, and perhaps does not want to.

Evangelical Churches - the jury is still out in Ireland in my mind. They're certainly growing, and indeed growing in many places at the expense of what one might call 'traditional' churches. I find the terms abhorrant in many ways as they are dilutions and perversions of their true meaning, but such is the nature of the English language and we can only use terms in the context in which they are used. There is certainly alot of money from overseas being ploughed into Evangelical Churches and the influx of migrants into Ireland has revitalised the movement which stagnated a decade or so ago. I think the Evangelical Churches are always in a conundrum. They traditionally focused primarily on "the winning of souls" ignoring everything else. This won them much criticism from the mainstream Protestant Churches who had a more holistic approach - the winning of souls AND the social responsibility of Christians to their neighbour. However, I think there is an awakening of the Evangelicals to what the rest of us would see as normality. The Evangelical Alliance, a somewhat recently formed body, distributed thousands of leaflets in the run up to the General Election outlining questions which they thought Christians should ask themselves when considering electoral issues. A step forward some might say, a step in others might say...
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:30 pm

That's a great reply, johnfás. Thanks.

"Any body of believers, in fellowship" constitutes a church.

Quote :
The second type of organisation, I would contend might be slightly different. Rather than faith being at the forefront of such organisations, it provides the backbone. Faith, and all that faith entails to their understanding of a moral order, provides the guidance and the inspiration for their understanding of the world and how the world should be. They then use this faith to construct - or advocate a prior construction - policy based agendas on how society should be.


Faith in what?

Is it fair to call these organisations 'faith-based' and if so are they not churches or splinter groups of other organised churches - reformed churches, if you like but ostensibly secular in outward characterisation because they don't flaunt their faith? Could you say they are 'post-churched' in the way the Protestant churches developed out of Catholicism, but that these modern groupings are even less concerned with the trappings of religion and maybe, to an extent, a solid faith behind them?

To put it more simply - what's the target audience of an organisation of this type and what's its selling point?
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:12 am

johnfas is right about people being fed up with the church for either letting down the country re abuse or not being strict enough about core issues, evangical churches are booming here, but DQ is like eoin harris with his slimy think tank, he may get media attention but i don't know how you can respect him, he's an opportunist liar. these right wing think tank are just some of the slimiest creations on earth something we should leave in america.
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PostSubject: Re: Secularism Weakening?   Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:24 am

re turkey is such problem that the army is losing some of its control there re state and religion?
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