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Religion and Democracy

“This article addresses mainly two widespread prejudices. The first claims that democracy flourishes only in a Christian culture, the second wants to keep religion out of politics to protect democracy. A short look at the history of Austria shows that the Catholic Church did not support democracy over a long period of time. With the help of Amartya Sen, we can also find essential prerequisites for democracy in cultures outside ancient Greece and Christianity. Democracy does not depend on a specific cultural or religious background. It requires the public use of reason and a tolerant attitude that values other beliefs. The second prejudice is rejected by showing that religion can hinder or strengthen democracy. The problematic side is addressed by referring to religious support of populism, the positive side by discussing fraternity as an important prerequisite for democracy.”

“Cet article s’attaque principalement à deux préjugés très répandus. Le premier prétend que la démocratie ne s’épanouit que dans une culture chrétienne, le second veut maintenir la religion hors de la politique pour protéger la démocratie. Un bref regard sur l’histoire de l’Autriche montre que l’Église catholique, pendant longtemps, n’a pas soutenu la démocratie. Avec l’aide d’Amartya Sen, nous pouvons également trouver des conditions préalables essentielles à la démocratie dans des cultures autres que la Grèce antique et le christianisme. La démocratie ne dépend pas d’un contexte culturel ou religieux spécifique. Elle exige l’utilisation publique de la raison et une attitude tolérante qui valorise les autres croyances. Le second préjugé est rejeté en montrant que la religion peut entraver ou renforcer la démocratie. Le côté problématique est abordé en faisant référence au soutien religieux du populisme, le côté positif en discutant de la fraternité comme d’une condition préalable importante pour la démocratie.”

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