Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Mark Butterworth [now spelled correctly here for your convenience!] has an interesting take on the role of the Roman and Orthodox Catholic churches, and points out that countries that countries that remain heavily RC or Orthodox are fairly tyrannical, undemocratic, and corrupt. He argues that Protestantism has contributed far more to the world. Personally, I really don't like Catholic vs. Protestant debates, since they hurt Christianity while doing nothing for the rest of the world. Nonetheless, I'll add my comments, for better or for worse.

Countries dominated by the Roman Catholic Church do tend to, well, suck. These include Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Poland, and Austria (maybe France, too, but I wouldn't blame their situation on the RCC). Countries dominated by Orthodox Catholic churches tend to suck as well, and include the former Soviet Republics, Balkans, and Eastern Europe. Of course, many Protestant countries don't exactly have bragging rights, either. Germany is Lutheran, and they've done nothing more than kill a lot of people. Scandinavia, also Lutheran, is pretty content to let the rest of the world pass them by. Switzerland and the Netherlands are Calvinist, and while Switzerland is, well, neutral in my book, Holland has been doing silly things like legalizing youth in Asia and eliminating their military (though it was probably pretty pointless to begin with). Calvinist Scotland got conquered (though there is the claim that they invented the modern world and everything in it). It seems that Catholic countries tend to be more authoritarian, while Protestant countries are more apathetic.

Basically, all we're left with is England. Now, the Church of England (mother church of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the branch in the USA) isn't Protestant. It isn't Catholic, either. Then again, it's both (very Zen, I know). Basically, what Mark's argument boils down to is that England is the only country to get it's act together, and it's not Catholic. But since it's not really Protestant either (yes, I know it's both at the same time, no more Zen for now), I'm not sure his argument stands up. England has been variously Catholic and Anglican, and does have the influence of the Protestant Scotland. America is also like this, but also has Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. It seems to me that a specific religion is less a determinant of how a country will be than the richness and diversity of it's culture and willingness to assimilate. Rome was pretty good at that, and they went far. England was (and is) pretty good, and they've gone far. America has been the best so far, and we've gone the furthest of all.

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