OPINION

Religious republic

How mature is a society when its religious leaders mix up sermons and manifestos, when its politicians do not hesitate to renounce yesterday’s ideologies and seek a remittance of sins in the hope of increasing their chances of political success? Or when its citizens – at any rate, a considerable number of them – cast their votes not in accordance with their political convictions or genuine needs but with a profoundly secular 11th commandment propounded in church or on the church’s radio station? How mature is a society when its religious representatives and party leaders come together to stage trivial melodramas which empower the church (and not just some religious organizations) to influence the popular vote – also thanks to its huge spiritual influence? We have been the spectators of such a melodrama a few weeks now, following the candidacy of Yiannis Tzannetakos for the Athens-Piraeus super-prefecture. In this melodrama, the main star, the conservative candidate, in other words, is backed (not with much enthusiasm) by his former ideological rivals (in New Democracy) while he is attacked by those whom he supported (in PASOK). Every man has the right to join the party which he thinks serves his objectives best. Furthermore, every man has the right to repudiate his former ideas, thereby exposing himself to public critique or ridicule. The problem is that the bewildered conservatives (who carried out an entire diplomatic campaign to extract the forgiveness of the archbishop) and Socialist gloaters (who suddenly seem to be outdoing the archbishop himself, by accepting or even inviting his interference in public affairs) are contributing to the substitution of Greece’s parliamentary democracy by a religious republic. Hardly the best way, surely, to bring about the promised separation between Church and State.