Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Religion can co-exist with democracy

Theologian Küng: Christianity Gets on Many People's Nerves
Steffen Leidel interviewed Hans Küng DW-WORLD.DE 10.09.2007
According to a survey, not Christianity but Buddhism is the most likeable religion for Germans. How do you explain that?
Buddhism, in the West, is perceived as being free from dogmas, as a religion without many rules. It is a religion that's turned to the inside and that emphasizes meditation. It is a religion, which has no anthropomorphic, concrete picture of the last reality.
The other is that Christianity -- with its concentration of power -- gets on many people's nerves. When we have a pope, who claims that -- as theological Lord of the world -- only those who are with him are true Christians and that only his Roman-Catholic Church is the true church, it gets on many people's nerves. Even though they don't protest publicly, they will turn away and say they don't want to have anything to do with that.
Let's get back to Islam, and to the question about the most peaceful religion: Buddhism leads with 43 percent, before Christianity with 41 percent. Islam only has one percent of people naming it as the most peaceful religion. Is Islam viewed as the enemy in the West?
Yes, Islam is definitely viewed as an enemy in the West, because the West only concentrates on certain points of Islam. It was like that in the past. Europeans look at it from the view of Islam's advancement from northern Africa to Spain, between the eighth and 15th century and the leadership of the Ottomans on the Balkan. They don't see that Christians not only had the crusades, but until the 19th century they colonized the entire Islamic area from Morocco to the Indonesian islands. That leads to tensions.
The West did not resolve many of those tensions. That's especially true for the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel. Had they made peace after the Six-Day War in 1967, there would have never been a Bin Laden and neither would there have been attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Instead, a feeling spread that Westerners even settled in the holy Arabic lands, made themselves comfortable in Afghanistan, and everywhere else they pushed to the front, so that defense forces were created. Desperate young people resorted to terrorism. Of course we have to judge suicide assassins and assaults. But we have to think about why so many young people became so desperate to make themselves available for such assassinations...
You once called Turkey the "laboratory for democracy." Can faith and religion co-exist with democracy?
Religion can co-exist with democracy. The leading architects of Europe, from Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer to Robert Schuman and Alcide De Gasperi, were all pious Christians. The reason why Islam has more problems with democracy than Christianity is that Islam, in contrast to Christianity and Judaism, had no Reformation and Enlightenment, leaving out a few special circles. If you want to help there, you have to support the moderate powers and isolate the radical ones. The most foolish thing to do is to go against those people with armies. That's as stupid as going against the mafia with fighter jets.

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