TAG | Sectarianism
Am I the only one to note the relative lack of salience of the Catholic-Protestant divide in the Republican primaries? Commentators routinely ignore the fact that the two candidates with the greatest appeal to evangelical Protestants are Roman Catholic. Not only that, but one, Rick Santorum, is a staunch Catholic affiliated with an organization which is not ecumenical in the least. But all that doesn’t matter now. It goes to show how abstract labels and sectarian divisions which are stark to those prone to over-rationalize religion melt away in the face of historical forces.
The American Republican party is the faction of white Protestants. And yet currently the only white Protestant candidate, Ron Paul, has no particular appeal to that demographic.
Via the Daily Record:
The annual cleaning of one of Christianity’s holiest churches deteriorated into a brawl between rival clergy today.
Dozens of monks battling over sacred space at the Church of the Nativity fought each other with brooms until police intervened.
The ancient church, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, is shared by three Christian denominations – Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox. The fight erupted between Greek and Armenian clergy, with both sides accusing each other of encroaching on parts of the church to which they lay claim.
The monks were tidying up the church ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, following celebrations by Western Christians on December 25. The fight erupted between monks along the border of their respective areas. Some shouted and hurled brooms.
Palestinian security forces rushed in to break up the melee, and no serious injuries were reported.
A fragile status quo governs relations among the denominations at the ancient church, and to repair or clean a part of the structure is to own it, according to accepted practice. That means that letting other sects clean part of the church could allow one to gain ground at another’s expense. Similar fights have taken place during the same late-December cleaning effort in the past.
Tensions between rival clergy at the church have been a fact of life there for centuries and have often been caught up in international politics.
In the 1800s, friction between the denominations at the church – each backed by foreign powers – became so fraught that Russian tsar Nicholas I deployed troops along the Danube to threaten a Turkish sultan who had been favouring the Catholics over the Orthodox.
Those disagreements threaten the integrity of the church itself, which was originally built 1,500 years ago and parts of which have fallen into disrepair. Although the roof has needed urgent work for decades, and leaking rainwater has ruined much of the priceless artwork inside, a renovation has been delayed by disagreements among the denominations over who would pay.
Peace on Earth…
Albert Mohler serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world—and he blogs. It’s worth taking a look there from time to time.
Here he is ruminating on the question of whether “science trumps the Bible” (in some ways, a false dichotomy, but that’s a discussion for another day):
“[C]ount me in as being lost to the assertion that science trumps the Bible “about the natural world” or about anything else. In his original response to Jerry Coyne, Giberson made the argument in more striking words: “Empirical science does indeed trump revealed truth about the world as Galileo and Darwin showed only too clearly.” That statement, with its reference to “revealed truth,” is even more shocking than the first.
In the economy of a few words, Giberson throws the Bible under the scientific bus. We should be thankful that his argument is so clear, for it puts the case for theistic evolution in its proper light — as a direct attack upon biblical authority.
What’s interesting about this is not Mohler’s biblical literalism, but the intensity of his assault on “Giberson”, a professor at East Nazarene College, and, clearly, no atheist. To make a public exhibition of your faith by attacking those somewhat further along the dial is a classic sectarian trait whether political or religious. And it’s not going away.