Germans Reconsider Religion ; Pope Benedict XVI's Challenge to Secularism Meets with Receptivity during His German Visit

By Christa Case writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

Germans Reconsider Religion ; Pope Benedict XVI's Challenge to Secularism Meets with Receptivity during His German Visit


Christa Case writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


This is the continent where some leading thinkers are talking about a "post-Christian Europe." And this is the country of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who infamously quipped, "God is dead."

So some may be surprised at the receptivity in Germany this week to visiting Pope Benedict XVI's message: Europe needs to rethink the thesis that secularism and economic progress go hand in hand. Coincidentally, some of Europe's stalwart secularists are challenging the idea that religious reasoning inevitably retreats from the public sphere as countries modernize.

Germans themselves are modeling a growing acceptance of religion's role in shaping society:

* Head of state Angela Merkel - the daughter of a Protestant minister - this month renewed calls to include a specific reference in the EU constitution to Europe's Christian heritage.

* There are more theologians in the German parliament than in any other Western parliament, including the US Congress. And when the last government cabinet was sworn in, nearly every member - instead of the usual 50 percent - opted for the religious version of the inaugural oath, according to Karsten Voigt, coordinator of German- American relations at the foreign ministry.

* In a recent survey gauging the perceived credibility of different professions, pastors were ranked in the Top 5.

* German students must take either ethics or religion classes, though Berlin recently made ethics compulsory, and religion optional. Mr. Voigt reports that "more and more" high schoolers in the state of Brandenburg are opting for religion too.

* Church attendance is no longer declining, and in one state the number of young churchgoers is going up, says Voigt.

Approximately two thirds of the 82 million citizens are church members. About 26 million are Roman Catholics, and a similar number are Protestants.

"Germany is a place where one can imagine a rethinking of this stultifying secularism and the moral relativism" prevalent in much of northern and western Europe today, says George Weigel, an American biographer of Pope John Paul II, and the author of "The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God."

"German public life has a kind of intuitive sense in the wake of WWII that you can't have a world without moral reference points, or you get you-know-what," Mr. Weigel explains.

He points to the recent shift of Juergen Habermas, one of Germany's foremost philosophers, as evidence of the potential for a rethinking of the public role of religion. A professed secularist who has spent nearly half a century arguing against religiously informed moral argument, he made some arresting statements in his 2004 essay, "A Time of Transition."

"Christianity, and nothing else," he wrote, "is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [to Christianity].

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Germans Reconsider Religion ; Pope Benedict XVI's Challenge to Secularism Meets with Receptivity during His German Visit
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.