Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Church and State

Way back in the past before all of these things became blurred, Baptists were noted for their insistence that the church remain separate from the secular state.

Such a distinction hasn't really existed in the Lutheran movement, which means that Lutheran relations between church and state - especially in countries with national churches - are always interesting to behold.

Finland for Thought discusses tension between Archbishop Jukka Paarma and others in the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Excerpts:

..."Archbishop Jukka Paarma said bluntly that clergymen who refuse to officiate at services with female ministers for reasons of conscience should seek other kinds of employment within the church. The Archbishop added that the Christian Church cannot accept any kind of discrimination or refusal to perform official duties."

He is chastising fellow theologians for acting according to their consciences? I guess he feels that acting according to conscience is something the church’s founder, Martin Luther, would never have done. And he uses a secular argument based on discrimination to reinforce his position....

There are many who share Lasse Marjokorpi’s opinion [against the ordination of women]—both church officials and ordinary members of the congregation. In fact, about two-years-ago, my own family refused to let female clergy officiate over a relative’s funeral in Finland. So why does the Archbishop continue this apparent guise when there are so many who believe that his views contradict Christian teachings? Perhaps herein lies a clue...

"According to Archbishop Jukka Paarma, it is possible that one of these days the Church will face a situation in which a secular court sets a precedent for the interpretation of the Equality Act within the church."

Ok, now the picture is much clearer. Our good Archbishop seems worried that the state will eventually interfere by imposing its secular values upon the church. So he’s taking preemptive measures to avoid possible conflict…… imposing his own secular values....

One of the resulting comments was interesting:

There is no absolute freedom of religion in any western country. This is why we don’t let Muslims conduct honour killings, even though some would argue that’s an infringement on their beliefs. The line can be drawn anywhere between laissez faire and full on religions oppression, but what seems most sensible surely is to expect a church to honour the same rules as the rest of society.

Most of the comments referred to "moldy old relics," but the following one didn't:

We are respectful towards women, but we don’t believe women belong as ministers. They can conduct services, but they won’t be Christian services. Instead they will be secular services dressed as Christian. Our belief is based on scripture. It is clear.

And this comment begs the question of who is discriminating against whom:

The same forms of “state control” apply to the other state church in Finland, the Orthodox Church. It hasn’t accepted women as priests at all, yet has been left free to practice its sexist beliefs.

So the secular state tolerates two different forms of official religious belief. And this is called Reason. But another commenter noted that those with gold can make the rules:

Martin Luther started his own club, which these whiny tail-wagging bitches should also do. When they pay for their places of worship themselves, they can shun female clergy all they like.


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