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Not a good faith proposal

12 July 2007

For some reason the “theme of the week” seems to be bombings and religion (and I managed to combine the two last Tuesday). Enough about bombs for a while (and even “Touch of Evil”, now that I think about it starts with a car bombing). Though one hopes this idea bombs… or that the Calderón administration wants to drop one:

In the next several days, the Catholic Church in Mexico will present to Congress a package of constitutional reforms in order to attain “a true religious freedom, without leaving behind the secular state,” said Armando Martínez Gómez, legal representative of the Archdiocese of Mexico City at a July 8 press conference.

Two days later, the Mexican Bishops’ Conference issued a statement supporting the initiative. “When the Church demands religious freedom, it is not asking for a gift, a privilege or a license depending on contingent political situations or on the authorities’ will, but is demanding effective recognition of an inalienable right,” says the bishops’ communiqué. (California Catholic Daily)

Some might disagree. What the Church wants is “to give the clergy “total” freedom of expression in political affairs and to let public schools offer religious education.” (A.P, via Forbes).

This is not just a minor change. After backing a series of coups and foreign invasions (the hierarchy welcomed both Winfield Scott and Maxmiliano de Hapsburgo into the country) and backing two civil wars (the Reforma of the 1850s, and the Cristero War of the 1920s) there is a good reason the State wants to keep the Church out of governmental affairs.

And, notice I say THE Church. While about 3/4th of Mexicans claim allegiance to the Catholic Church, they don’t necessarily mean the “One True Catholic And Apostolic Church” of Roman… they could mean any of a dozen Mexican Catholic Churches, or they could be simply using “Catholic” to mean their culture. I’ve said before that Mexico is a “Catholic country” the same way Slovakia or France are.

Besides appealing to the most reactionary elements in society, it’s not just what in the U.S. is called the “secular agenda” — gay rights, , legalized abortion and birth control — that are threatened, but also the rights of minorities, an historical injustice in religious states, and one that sometimes happens in the secular one.

The strictest clerical restrictions in the 1917 Constitution were amended in the 1990s making CLERGY (not Churches) equal to other citizens. As CLERGY they cannot make political statements, but Rev. Jose Lopez can write as Citizen Jose Lopez. And, like Durango Archbishop Hector Garcia Martinez, they do try to influence political decisions from the pulpit now without interference.
Churches are Religious Associations — having a different purpose than other corporations, but not particularly onerous. I got a few laughs out of clerical restrictions when I went to apply for my work permit wearing black pants, a white shirt and a gray sweater and was in line just behind two Dominican nuns. Since Mexican clerics don’t usually wear “obvious” clothing, I got sent to the wrong line, and ended up with the wrong form. Ah well, that’s bureacracy, not religious discrimination.

But what THE Church (the only “true Church,” we’re told) wants is access to public schools, and the right — as a Church — to take a role in politics. In the schools, this would mean violating the rights of other citizens (the right to any belief — or NO belief — is in the Constitution). And make no mistake about it. THE Church has a political party: PAN.

Unlike the conservative Evangelicals in the U.S. Republican Party, this is ONE denomination trying to set the political and social agenda, and control the state. Even with a pluralistic society where no one denomination is dominant (as it is in Mexico), one can understand very quickly why this is a bad idea by looking at this tape from people who supposedly are sworn to uphold freedom of religion.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 26 July 2007 12:48 pm

    Oh, you’re just a typical anticlerical! If the Catholic Church does not become more influential in Mexico, that nation will surely be corrupted by modernity, and become as debased as my own United States.


    Undoubtedly so, but having spent a lot of time at one point in my life working with (or rather against) neo-fascists, I’m always curious when I see “88” as part of someone’s signature. In fascist circles, it’s used for the 8th letter of the alphabet — HH — for “Heil Hitler”. Links on your site to the Christian Falangist Party and Society of Saint Pius X suggest a world view very different than most Mexicans. And, how seriously I should take a Massachusetts sympthizer with Falangism as a commentator I’ll leave to the others’ discretion.

    Any student of Mexican history, though, will tell you that anti-modernity has been a feature of Mexican politics — and most of the terrorism inflicted on the country — since Independence. The anti-Reforma wars, the Church hierachy’s support for the U.S. invasion, the French invasion, Huerta, the Cristeros and el Yunque. It still exists, so I suppose we might as well hear from these crazies.

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