Republicanism and religion

Republicanism and religion

Religion has played an important role in the development of republicanism. Religious differences between a people and their monarch have often led to the overthrow of the monarch and the introduction of a republican system of government. Since at least the time of the pharaohs monarchies have been closely linked to religion with many monarchs being the representative of an official state religion.

There have been a number of examples of this:
*The founding of the Dutch Republic was in part due to the rejection of the dominance of the Catholic kings of Spain who opposed the Dutch Protestantism. After the independent republic was set up and in 1651 the Dutch Reformed Church was made the state religion.
* In the United States the Founding Fathers largely rejected the Anglicanism of the British monarchy. The American Revolution was fueled by Puritanism and Congregationalism. After the republic was established several states made these faiths their official religion. For instance Congregationalism remained the official state religion of Connecticut until 1818. Eventually this practice was rejected and state religions were abolished.
*One of the driving forces of Irish Republicanism has always been the divide between Catholic Ireland and its Anglican rulers.
*In Iran the Shah was seen to have abandoned Islam and in the Iranian Revolution he was overthrown and a theocratic regime was installed to replace him.
*The Communist republican movements in Russia, Vietnam, and elsewhere were fiercely anti-religious. On the other hand in these communist countries Marxist and/or Stalinist and/or Maoist (etc.) doctrines can be seen to be at least as determining as a "state religion".
*Besides being anti-monarchial, the French Revolution, leading to First French Republic, was at least as much anti-religiousref|anti-religious and especially anti-catholic. Abbeys, beguinagesref|beguinage, churches and other religious buildings and/or communities were pillaged, destroyed and/or confiscated. By the time of the creation of the Third French Republic the issue had largely downgraded to anti-clericalism. But still in the Fifth Republic, "laïcité" can be seen to have a much more profound meaning in republican France than in its neighbouring countries ruled as a monarchy (example: French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools.


#: the "anti-religious" component of the French Revolution is recognised as one of the causes of the Boerenkrijg (1798), see ("Aanleiding tot deze rebellie waren de hoge belastingen, de antigodsdienstige politiek [...] en de invoering van de conscriptie [...] ", transl: "Causes of the rebellion were the high taxes, the "anti-religious politics" [...] and the introduction of conscription [...] "). Only after that it was largely due to Napoleon that most of the original "anti-religious" impetus could be re-oriented to "anti-clericalism" (so that "state acquisition" became paramount over "destruction of symbols"), but that was in the episode leading up to the First Empire. The introduction of the French Revolutionary Calendar also had been rather generally "anti-religious", than merely "anti-clerical": the symbolic value of the Gregorian Calendar, referring to Christ, and the "Biblical" 7-day week (with one of these days devoted to the godhead, in the most important monotheistic religions of that time), had been targeted when the new calendar was introduced. By the time these anti-religious dynamics had quieted down in the early 19th century, the Revolutionary calendar became irrelevant, and was consequently abandoned. Even anti-clericalism was partly soothed down by Napoleon during the First Empire, only regaining strength in the next couple of phases of the French Republic.
# see [ UNESCO "Advisory Body Evaluation" for putting Flemish Béguinages on the World Heritage List]

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