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A Christian republic is a government that is both Christian and republican. As of the 21st century, the only countries in the world with a republican form of government and with Christianity as the established religion are Argentina,[a] Costa Rica,[b] Finland,[c] Greece,[d] Armenia,[e] Samoa,[f] Iceland,[g] and Malta.[h] Some other republics, such as Georgia,[i] Peru,[j] Guatemala,[k] Panama,[l] El Salvador,[m] and Paraguay,[n] give some credit or preference to Christianity, but without establishing it as the religion of the state. Others, such as Hungary,[o] and Zambia,[p] describe themselves as Christian countries.
In A Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke wrote that "there is absolutely no such thing, under the Gospel, as a Christian Commonwealth". By this he meant that political authority cannot be validly founded upon Christianity. Rousseau, in On the Social Contract (in book 4, chapter 8), echoed this, saying that "I am mistaken in saying 'a Christian republic'; the two words are mutually exclusive.". However, Rousseau's point was subtly different, in that he was asserting that a civic identity cannot be moulded out of Christianity. David Walsh, founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, acknowledges that there is a "genuine tension ... between Christianity and the political order" that Rousseau was acknowledging, arguing that "many Christians would, after all, agree with him that a 'Christian republic' is a contradiction in terms" and that the two live "in an uneasy relationship in actual states, and social cohesion has often been bought at the price of Christian universalism". Robert Neelly Bellah has observed that most of the great republican theorists of the Western world have shared Rousseau's concerns about the mutually exclusive nature of republicanism and Christianity, from Machiavelli (more on which later) to Alexis de Tocqueville.
Rousseau's thesis is that the two are incompatible because they make different demands upon the virtuous man. Christianity, according to Rousseau, demands submission (variously termed "servitude" or "slavery" by scholars of his work) to imposed authority and resignation, and requires focus upon the unworldly; whereas republicanism demands participation rather than submission, and requires focus upon the worldly. Rousseau's position on Christianity is not universally held. Indeed, it was refuted by, amongst others, his friend Antoine-Jacques Roustan in a reply to the Social Contract.
Rousseau's thesis has a basis in the prior writings of Niccolò Machiavelli, whom Rousseau called a "bon citoyen et honnête homme" and who alongside Montesquieu was one of Rousseau's sources for republican philosophy. In his Discoursi Machiavelli observes that Christianity in practice has not met the ideals of its foundation, and that the resultant corruption leads, when mixed with secular political ideals, to something that is neither good religion nor good politics. Further, he argues, whilst Christianity does not preclude love for one's country, it does require citizens to endure damage to republican government, stating that the best civic virtue in regards to a republic is to show no mercy to the republic's enemies and to put to death or to enslave the inhabitants of an opposing city that has been defeated.
While the classical writers had been the primary ideological source for the republics of Italy, in Northern Europe, the Protestant Reformation would be used as justification for establishing new republics. Most important was Calvinist theology, which developed in the Swiss Confederacy, one of the largest and most powerful of the medieval republics. John Calvin did not call for the abolition of monarchy, but he advanced the doctrine that the faithful had the right to overthrow irreligious monarchs. Calvinism also espoused egalitarianism and an opposition to hierarchy.[dubious ] Advocacy for republics appeared in the writings of the Huguenots during the French Wars of Religion.
Calvinism played an important role in the republican revolts in England and the Netherlands. Like the city-states of Italy and the Hanseatic League, both were important trading centres, with a large merchant class prospering from the trade with the New World. Large parts of the population of both areas also embraced Calvinism. During the Dutch Revolt (beginning in 1566), the Dutch Republic emerged from rejection of Spanish Habsburg rule. However, the country did not adopt the republican form of government immediately: in the formal declaration of independence (Act of Abjuration, 1581), the throne of king Philip, was only declared vacant, and the Dutch magistrates asked the Duke of Anjou, queen Elizabeth of England and prince William of Orange, one after another, to replace Philip. It took until 1588 before the Estates (the Staten, the representative assembly at the time) decided to vest the sovereignty of the country in itself.
In 1641 the English Civil War began. Spearheaded by the Puritans and funded by the merchants of London, the revolt was a success, and led to the Commonwealth of England and the execution of King Charles I. In England James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, and John Milton became some of the first writers to argue for rejecting monarchy and embracing a republican form of government. The English Commonwealth was short lived, and the monarchy soon restored. The Dutch Republic continued in name until 1795, but by the mid-18th century the stadtholder had become a de facto monarch. Calvinists were also some of the earliest settlers of the British and Dutch colonies of North America.
Finland (5.2 million) constitutes a unique case, as it has two national churches, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church.
The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head, is inseparably united in doctrine with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and with every other Church of Christ of the same doctrine, observing unwaveringly, as they do, the holy apostolic and syn- odal canons and sacred traditions. It is autocephalous and is administered by the Holy Synod of serving Bishops and the Permanent Holy Synod originating thereof and assembled as specified by the Statutory Charter of the Church in compliance with the provisions of the Patriarchal Tome of June 29, 1850 and the Synodal Act of September 4, 1928.
The Republic of Armenia shall recognise the exclusive mission of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, as a national church, in the spiritual life of the Armenian people, in the development of their national culture and preservation of their national identity.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State.
The State shall declare absolute freedom of belief and religion. At the same time, the State shall recognise the outstanding role of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in the history of Georgia and its independence from the State.
Within an independent and autonomous system, the State recognizes the Catholic Church as an important element in the historical, cultural, and moral formation of Peru and lends it its cooperation. The State respects other denominations and may establish forms of collaboration with them.
The juridical personality of the Catholic Church is recognized. The other churches, cults, entities, and associations of religious character will obtain the recognition of their juridical personality in accordance with the rules of their institution[,] and the Government may not deny it[,] aside from reasons of public order. The State will extend to the Catholic Church, without any cost, [the] titles of ownership of the real assets which it holds peacefully for its own purposes, as long as they have formed part of the patrimony of the Catholic Church in the past. The property assigned to third parties or those
All religions may be professed and all forms of worship practiced freely, without any other limitation than respect for Christian morality and public order. It is recognized that the Catholic religion is practiced by the majority of Panamanians.
The juridical personality of the Catholic Church is recognized. The other churches may obtain recognition of their personality in conformity with the law.
The role played by the Catholic Church in the historical and cultural formation of the Republic is hereby recognized.
We are proud that our king Saint Stephen built the Hungarian State on solid ground and made our country a part of Christian Europe one thousand years ago.
DECLARE the Republic a Christian nation while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person's freedom of conscience or religion