Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Secularization of Spanish Society

BARCELONA — For a country steeped in Catholic tradition, these are alarming times.Public schools are being told by judicial order to pull crucifixes from their walls. City buses with billboards espousing atheism have been rumbling through the streets here, prompting yowls of blasphemy from Catholic leaders.

"Probably God Doesn't Exist," bleated an ad plastered last month across Bus 14, a normally sunny mode of transport past this city's harbor. "So Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life."

The so-called godless buses — which copy a campaign begun in Britain — have appeared in Madrid and Malaga, Spain, and are planned for elsewhere in Europe. For Spain, the stunt is a provocative sign of the times.

This democracy is engaged in a bracing debate over God and state and deciding whether Catholic or secular visions should mold social policies and young minds.

A new citizenship course, introduced in secondary school in September, left politicians and church leaders tangling over what values should be formally taught. Laws passed in 2005 that recognize gay civil unions (called "solidarity pacts") and ease divorce still rankle Catholic elders.

Read it all here.

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