Religion and Populism: Reflections on the politicised discourse of the Greek Church

When the modern Greek state was formed (1830), it tried, under the influence of Enlightenment ideals regarding statecraft, to modernise the Church by separating it from the pre-modern ecumenicity of the Patriarchate and its extended role within the Ottoman state; this modernisation entailed the nationalisation of the Church. The main architect of this refashioning was Georg Von Maurer, a German Protestant and member of King Otto’s regency: ‘If ever a church was legally stripped of authority and reduced to complete dependence on the state, Maurer’s constitution did it to the church of Greece’… The result was a gradual ‘instrumentalisation’ of the Church of Greece… In the twentieth century the open politicisation of the Church took a variety of new forms: The Church sided with the king against the reformer prime minister Venizelos who was excommunicated and anathematised by the Archbishop in 1916; it played an active role in the ideological aspect of the ‘struggle against communism’ during the Civil War (1947-1949); and was largely obedient to the ‘religious ideology’ (‘a Greece of Christian Greeks’) introduced by the dictatorship (1967-1974).

Religion and Populism in Greece
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