The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The word ‘Bible’ became trending topic (TT) on Twitter after Pedro Sánchez decided to exclude religious symbols in his presidential inauguration. Meanwhile, a leftist party quoted Exodus and Proverbs to denounce corruption.
The success - for the first time in democracy - of a no-confidence motion, opened the way for social democrat leader Pedro Sánchez to become Spain’s new head of government.
The former President Mariano Rajoy, was ousted on Friday 1 June after seven years in power. Pressure on his conservative People’s Party (PP) had become unbearable after a court ruling condemned several key political leaders because of their implication in one of the greatest corruption scandals in Spain’s history.
Six opposition parties in the national parliament voted together to take the minority government down.
24 hours later, on Saturday, opposition leader Sánchez became the new President. One of the first gestures of the PSOE politician was not to include the traditional Bible and the crucifix in his inauguration ceremony.
The two religious symbols had been present in all inaugurations since Spain became a democracy, and had been criticised by part of the population as a legacy of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship (ended in the late 70s), who ruled the country with the support of the Roman Catholic Church.
Many praised Sánchez’s gesture on social media, as they interpreted it as first step towards a clearer separation between state and religion – Spain is defined in its Constitution as a “non-confessional” state.
In the midst of this social debate, the word “Bible” became Twitter’s Trending Topic (“TT”) for several hours on Saturday.
AN ATHEIST PRESIDENT
Pedro Sánchez is a self-defined atheist, and has previously said he was against the teaching of religion (an optional subject) in state schools.
The new president is in favour of ending the Vatican Concordat agreements, which give special privileges to the Roman Catholic Church above other religious minorities.
SENATORS USE THE BIBLE TO DENOUNCE CORRUPTION
Two days after the inauguration, Senators Carles Mulet and Jordi Navarrete of the leftist party Compromís had another initiative related to the Bible.
In a document fixing their position against the National Budget Act, they quoted six passages of the Bible to denounce what they described as the “corruption” and “hipocresy” of the People’s Party.
The senators quoted Exodus 20:15: “You shall not steal”; Proverbs 29:24, “The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies”; Isaiah 1:23, “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless. The widow’s case does not come before them, they are put under oath and dare not testify”.
The politicians also quoted Matthew 6:16, Mark 11:17 and Ephesians 4:28. Their conclusion was that the former government “spoke a lot about the text [of Scriptures], but did not apply it in practice”.
‘EVERYONE SHOULD READ THE BIBLE’
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, one of the most respected intellectuals and Member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, has also added his voice to the conversation about the Bible these days.
A Twitter user asked him: “Can you tell us of a book that did not convince you in the beginning but you ended up loving?”. The author’s response was: “The Bible”.
The author expanded his views in a blog article: “No one who searches for lucidity and intelligence, whose desire is to interpret the world in which he lives and will die, should overlook the reading, at least once in life, of the most famous and influential book –for good or for bad- in history”.
Pérez-Reverte, who does not define himself as a Christian, added: “The Old and the New Testament - for some sacred history and divine revelation and for others the master key of culture and illustration -, are indispensable to understand how we got here, who we were and who we are now. Only the Bible, read over and over again, would be enough to overfill a life”.