Thursday 23^rd – Friday 24^th of October
- Yearly symposium of the Finnish Graduate School of Theology in Turku, lecture & meeting with doctoral students
Saturday 25^th of October
- Day off
Sunday 26^rd of October
- Mass in Helsinki
- Meeting with Bishop Eero Huovinen and Bishop Mark Hanson
- Visiting the old Porvoo with Bishop Gustav Björkstrand
Monday 27^th of October
Afternoon in the Faculty of Theology (Aleksanterinkatu 7, 3rd floor, Faculty room)
12.15 Opening, Dean Aila Lauha
12.30 Panel discussion: “Current trends in Church History/Theology in USA and Europe:
What could scholars learn from and give to each other?"
Finland Campaign Teaser With American misadventures in the Iraq war and the American economy “crashing,” both respect for the nation and its taken-for-granted place among the nations have been greatly diminished. Yet the military and economic poise and destiny in the United States have implications all over the globe. The choice of Chief Executive, the Congress, and administration every four years therefore attracts attention everywhere, not least of all in Europe.
While the citizenry in the United States includes millions of Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans, their institutions and habits reflect the Western European heritage more than any other. That is why many Europeans express puzzlement over one aspect of that heritage: the role of religion in the presidential campaigns, never more than this year. Race and religion cast shadows over the urgent debates dealing with the economy. Why?
The United States was “born secular,” in that it had no established religion. Yet the people describe themselves and their nation as religious, and seek to show it during campaigns.
For that reason one has to say, as I do in my lecture, that Americans “cannot live without religion” at such moments. They make decisions based on moral, ethical, and political commitments partly grounded in religion(s). At the same time, more evidently, they “cannot live with religion” in any assuredly creative way. Ask someone whether the reputation of religion in all its form will be better off after the religious have used politics to advance their causes and have been used by politicians, the answer has to be “no.” Is the political order better off for having experienced another round in “the culture wars” that divide citizens? No.
The negative side of the coupling can be summarized in two words: “exploitation” and “exhibition.” Candidates for office and their backers exploit the religious to gain advantage at the polls; they often distort the issues. And they exhibit religion, which means that they make a public show of their faith and enter into competition over who is more sincere, more informed, more dedicated than the other. Such exhibiting, such making a show of piety, contradicts what Christianity, Judaism, and the other prominent faiths in America say they despise. Except when their candidates are out to get votes.
Prof. Martin E. Marty
PL 33 (Aleksanterinkatu 7), 00014 Helsingin yliopisto