May 25, 2013
According to Elisabeth Dias, the author of the lead article, Latinos in the US are turning neo-Protestant in droves because they “seek a break with the past, a quicker assimilation into the middle class and a closer relation with God “. No kidding ! Aren’t they pressured into joining by the utterly unfair and unequal nature of American society itself, perhaps ?
Competing for the faithful of other Christian churches is morally wrong and could prove socially counterproductive in the long run . So is manipulating people’s faith for political ends, no matter how progressive the latter might be. Latinos do not convert to neo-Protestant religions, as TIME reports, “ because they want to know God personally, without a priest as a middleman “ ( this is a central neo-liberal belief) : they simply realise that their own priest is powerless to provide them with practical help in a society like the US. So much for the religious freedom enjoyed by immigrants trying to settle in the States…
Whilst an Australian resident, in 2000, my own family had to put up with concerted efforts aimed at getting us to join a neo-Protestant church against our repeated refusal. Perks such as jobs in the public sector and promises of “protection” from a powerful community were used as carrots. Upon our return to Romania in 2002, the pressures to join a neo-Protestant church there culminated with an offer to become a “pastor-promoter” (?!), which was relayed to me by relatives who had been recruted in Australia at the end of the 1990’s by the Baptist church. At no such times have I felt that my religious freedom was actually being respected.
Unlike post-Nazi Germany or Turkey after the military dictatorship, the United States is the world’s oldest democracy. Accordingly, it should ensure that church and state matters remain separate, as it has been the case until recently in its history. (So far, Turkey’s experiment with Islamic democracy is the only successful example of blending religion and politics.)
The US-sponsored introduction of religion into the political ideology of post-Hitler Germany and post-Franco Spain is, on closer inspection, a failure, according to Nobel-laureate writers like Heinrich Böll and Herta Müller. Thus, not only had the (German) Christian Democratic Union and the CSU parties become havens for former SS and SA members, but they have also nurtured a determined and growing neo-Nazi movement with consequences to this day.