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Τhe online round table on “Religion in the Public Sphere: Between Fundamentalism, Populism and Democracy” took place in the evening of Monday, June 3. The speakers were Dr. Effie Fokas (Assistant Professor of International Relations and European Affairs, Deree American College of Greece) and Prof. Dr. Ηaralambos Ventis (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Athens). The event was moderated by the Deputy Director of Volos Academy, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis. The event was part of the “Time for Action” series.

Speaking first, Effie Fokas referred to the conceptions of Christianity cultivated in Western and Eastern Europe but also in America, mainly in contrast to Islam and often –though not always– incorporating elements from a secular rhetoric, so that finally Christianity is somehow reduced to mere culture, as a kind of “Christianism”, using the term coined by Roy & Brubacker. Then, she examined cases from the Greek public sphere, referring to the attempts of the Greek Church to intervene in government policies, particularly in the recent legislation on the marriage of same-sex couples, but also to the effort of the Greek Left to use religious narratives to its interests, and also to the attempts of the extreme Right to monopolize these narratives for its own goals; demonstrating, in this way, that the entire political spectrum in Greece uses elements of the Christian faith that are not simple cultural, but touch on a deeper content, such as e.g. the belief in miracles and the active participation in religious rites.

Taking the floor, Haralambos Ventis highlighted the need for religious tolerance in liberal democracies, focusing on the political liberalism of John Rawls that developed with the common good of all members of society in mind; a liberalism which he contrasted with both economic neoliberalism and the nostalgia for the Byzantine “Symphonia”. He emphasized the fact that religious beliefs, even those of the majority, cannot determine the policies of a secular state; he analyzed the main ideas of a religious tolerant state –as opposed to an atheistic state– and he emphasized the fact that atheism also displays characteristics of a religious doctrine. He underlined the need for constant reflection, both from the state part and also from the religious part, observing that, although reflection is a crucial element of modernity, it has hardly been integrated into the practices of the Church in Greece.

The video recording of the event is available on the YouTube channel of the Volos Academy, in English (https://youtu.be/6hvncY4EEvM)

and in Greek (https://youtu.be/DElk-oHTdf4).

The next event of the “Time for Action” series will take place on Monday, June 10 and will be the round table on the topic “Is there natural theology in Orthodoxy?”, the speakers being Rev. Dr. Christopher Knight and Dr. David Bradshaw, and coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Theokritoff, as already announced. This event is organized in collaboration with the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies (IOCS) of Cambridge, UK.

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TIME FOR ACTION - 4th Season

TIME FOR ACTION - 4th Season

Taking advantage of the possibilities offered by modern communication technology, Volos Academy for Theological Studies organizes for the fourth consecutive Read More
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