During Franco´s dictatorship Spain was a very Catholic country. After more than 3 decades of democracy, Spain is not a Catholic country anymore. First, loss of religion became apparent with the legalization of divorce and contraceptives and the promotion of sex ed. This was followed by the decriminalization of abortion, the acceptance of drug possession for personal consumption (drug users are not criminals in Spain, but treated instead as medical patients) and a general acceptance of premarital sex. Later, gambling in public places became commonplace, prostitution was legalized and regulated, and gay marriage became legal as well. So other than euthanasia, I can´t think of anything that the Church used to opposed that is not legal now in Spain. While 95% of the Spanish youth declared in the 60s that religion played some role in their life, now only a third do.

Religion in Spain is mostly becoming tradition. People marry in churches because they are beautiful and full of history, not because they actually practice. They still teach religion in most schools, but to most it is as if they were teaching Spanish history, the history of a country that used to be religious but is not anymore. Now the only religious group in Spain are Muslim immigrants, whose views on society are surprisingly similar to those of the Franco. Nudity, for example, was a big “no no” at that time and it continues to be so for Spanish Muslims. For others, nudity makes part of the daily press in Spain. Nudist beaches and regular beaches are mostly mixed, and most people don´t mind.

But not only is Spain liberal in most matters previously opposed by the Catholic Church. Spain is also tolerant in other unexpected ways. For example, in Spain the use of P2P programs to download music for personal consumption is not a punishable offense. In Spain, people openly use Ares, Vuze, eMule for legal and what in other countries is illegal content without fear of being prosecuted. The only truly illegal activity is people who download music/movies, print CDs or DVDs and sell them. And this is but one example of a legislative system that, when faced with choices that involve tolerance vs restriction, it generally opts for tolerance, to the point that Spain has become one of the most tolerant countries in the world. As a result, Spain has become an incredibly popular immigration destination. Indeed I am one of them, I moved to Spain from NYC in 1995.

If anything, Spain proves that societies do not fall apart when they give up religion and almost everything that was illegal for religious reasons, becomes legal. Moreover, I believe that if Spain had not given up its repressive form of religious expression, it would not have been the success that it is now. For those, mostly in America, who believe that religion somehow makes countries more ethical, Spain proves the opposite. With a good secular and free Kindergarden to University education system Spain has less violent crime, less people in jail and certainly less policemen per inhabitant than mostly religious USA. The key distinction between USA and Spain, or Europe in general, is that while most people in Europe dislike the same activities that people in America dislike, the trend over here is not to make these activities a crime but to find more tolerant and reasonable ways to deal with them. In this way, Spain can focus its police resources to deal with serious crimes such as terrorism.

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No Comments

Killy-the-Frog on October 30, 2006  · 

Thank you Spanish ! Thank you Italian!
What a pity that France which has break the link between religion and states a very long time ago is more conservative in many subjects than Spain.

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Claudio on October 30, 2006  · 

Interesting article, I agree with your conclusion, Michael Moore makes a similar point in ‘Bowling for Columbine’ about the proliferation of guns and violent crime. Just because a society has more guns than another country doesn’t mean that there will be more murders, similarly, just because a country professes to have a higher quotient of actively religious people doesn’t seem to NECESSARILY imply that that country will be similarly more moral / ethical than a country that is not as actively religious.

I was just wondering, how the link to being more liberal with regards to P2P comes from being more liberal with regard to other ‘moral’ issues that we no longer have prejudices or problems with, i.e. abortion, gay marriage. Surely (and I’m not getting on my soap box here) P2P is still stealing intellectual copyright? And most people would agree that it’s not a particularlly fine thing to do morally or ethically. Not that I have an issue with P2P per se, I’m only saying that it seems a bit of a leap to go from discussions of abortion, euthanasia etc to P2P.

Anyway, thanks for the observations, Claudio

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José Luis on October 30, 2006  · 

Martin, you have a glorified perception of Spain. I agree with you that religion and ethical behavior are not tied. Japan would be another example of a very civic society with little presence of religion. But all the changes in Spain have bought some problems. Consumerism is at US levels. Families visit El Corte Inglés (the monopolistic Spanish department store) on Sunday. That is the New Temple for many Spaniards. The most widely prescribed medicines in our public health systems are anti depressants (second consumer in the world after France). The value of education is non existent. We have fallen below even the “stupid” Americans in the rankings. Only Portugal and Greece fare worse in Europe.

As you, I am a secular person. I value open societies and I do not think that our decadent moral values are tied to lack of religion in our lives. It has more to do with a process of social engineering, designed to create happy and hedonistic submissive consumers, easy to manipulate by politicians, banks and real state companies and willing to accept whatever changes are deemed to be “good” for them.

A society does not need religion to behave ethically, but in needs a vibrant civic society, lacking in Spain, but vocal in countries such as US. A side note: in a recent corruption worldwide index, Spain falls below the US and other “religious” countries.

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Martin Varsavsky on October 30, 2006  · 


I believe that it is up to people to be moral. I am not a fan of morality through religion, nor am I a fan of morality through legislation. I believe that the most moral people are the ones who choose to be moral on every moral choice they face. I think the most moral people in the world are the one who build their OWN moral standards, not those impose by others be legislators or religious figures. Abortion is a crime in my native country of Argentina. I am opposed to abortion being a crime. Still I think that abortion is generally a sad event, it is hard to say that one is in favor of abortion as if abortion was something great. It is not. But abortion can be the lesser of two evils and in any case I am in favor of a woman to choose. There are many things that I believe are not great but not for that they should be illegal. For example I am not a big fan of prostitution, I believe that sex linked to love is better than sex linked to money, but should this be a crime between two consenting adults? Now regarding the fact that Spain does not protect intellectual property as much as the USA I don´t think that that in itself is so bad. Fon is an open source company, I personally believe that intellectual property is a concept that does more harm than good especially in the areas of patents for computer science. And regarding music and movies I believe that of course people who make movies and music deserved to be paid but I also think that the best music and the best movies come out of people who don´t do it for money. I have built http://www.ya.com for profit and http://www.educ.ar not for profit and enjoyed both enormously. It´s a tough call. Would a world in which Leonardo Di Caprio makes 1/10th of the money he makes per film be a worse world?

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Marcelo Levit on October 30, 2006  · 

Interesting facts about Spain, really.

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China China on November 1, 2006  · 

On the issue of euthanasia, the best Spanish film of all time (in my opinion) and this is my review:

El Mar Adentro, based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro, a ship’s mechanic paralyzed at the age of twenty-six by a freak diving accident, tells of his struggle for almost thirty years to change the euthanasia laws in Spain. Ramon, in a passionate tour de force performance by Javier Bardem (Oscar-nominated for Before Night Falls) orchestrates his legal and philosophical stance from a prostrate position in his bed, a quadriplegic from the neck down. He’s aided and abetted by his simple family, a team of lawyers led by the elegant Julia (Belén Rueda) with whom he falls in love, and various members of the public who learn of his plight via the television, including Rosa (Lola Dueñas), a straight-talking single mother who ultimately offers to help him commit suicide because she loves him.
Although the subject matter may seem somber, if not downright depressing, the director Alejandro Amenábar (Abre los Ojos, The Others) doesn’t adopt a sensationalist, maudlin or manipulative approach. Instead, whilst we get a feeling of where his sympathies lie, he gives equal credence to both sides of the euthanasia argument – intellectually and emotionally – through the dignified and eloquent points Ramon presents and also the heartfelt counterpoints presented by his stubborn, “salt of the earth” elder brother. Overall, we’re left feeling inspired and deeply affected by a man who, inherently, felt the deepest sorrow of a life lost, but whose spirit and sharp wit was so alive that those around him wanted to prolong it as long as humanly possible. Especially memorable is the comical exchange between Ramon and a quadriplegic Jesuit priest, who wants to highjack Ramon’s case for his own grand-standing. During their verbal joust, an intermediary – a green trainee – runs up and down the stairs to convey their respective positions.
The entire film is expertly and elegantly shot by Amenábar within the tight confines of Ramon’s bedroom and the chaotic courtroom. There are also touchingly realized dream sequences in which Ramon takes flight from his bed and swoops from the open window over the rolling emerald hills and down to the nearby beach, the site of his unfortunate accident. It has a spellbinding effect, reflecting the futile solitude of his condition while adding a distinct visual tone of hope. As his feet move in the sand, his memory conjuring forth the smells, sounds and sights of the sea from within his own head, we’re privy to those sensations and imagine it’s our feet in the sand. We leave the film not feeling futile, but quietly thankful.

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Santi on November 1, 2006  · 

I agree in some things, disagree in some others, but what you said about prostitution in Spain is not true: prostitution is not legal neither ilegal nor regulated in Spain, it is hidden behind pubs and night clubs businesses. Girls on the street can stay because it is not forbidden for them (although in Barcelona if a girl is cached dealing with the customer, both will get a 300 € fine).

Regulating prostitution means considering it as a real job with social insurance and so. Being legal means that it is named in the laws and having some regulations.



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Patrick on November 8, 2006  · 

This is one of the more interesting human debates of the past say … 100 centuries.

Not that I will claim to be able to dish out the solution here but I think 2 major ingredients have been omitted f what is largely a darwinistic process – which adapts continuously to the ever changing environment.
The First is CULTURE of the spanish people which has led to what prabably is a very much improved state of being. I dare say that the sunny coast , nice women/men and booming economy has helped (although I’m surprised by the anti deprecent point).

The second item is GOVERNMENT and national/regional leadership. Although one response seems to accuse of sheep herding at play, a country has alway done well when it had good harvests (luck) and smart/visionary leadership. We can certainly see what bad leadership does to companies and the same way about countries , even if it takes a bit longer due to the control/influence of communication and media.

Religion has always lent itself to be a semi governement tool for control of the masses and its use or abuse is sadly seen too often in all religions and in all times. Like with anything overselling and excessive use of religion will lead to rejection sooner or later because of the negative side effects (fantasism, mistrust…). Interesting to note also that the Catholic church is bankrupt in the US following too many child abuse suits – that may be more a reflection about the leadership and cultural environment than religion itself.

I wonder what the in religion will actually be after 100 years of the current information revolution? Om Malik could write a good analysis of this à la Broadbandits style.

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beckyy on December 2, 2006  · 

“the story of Spain and Italy also prove that people do not need religion to behave ethically, as Spain and Italy have many less policemen and people in jail per inhabitant than the United States, which happens to be the last mostly religious wealthy country on earth”

could you please explain your assessment that having fewer people in jail in Spain is linked the the ethical behavior of the population? have you ever considered the idea that having fewer people in jail could indicate that the ethical standards in Spain are just not very high in the area of criminal justice, thus resulting in fewer arrests?

“I think the most moral people in the world are the one who build their OWN moral standards, not those impose by others be legislators or religious figures.”

On what do you believe should people “build their OWN moral standards”? let us say that i have drawn up my own set of moral standards for myself. i dont have a car, and it would be nice to have one to drive to work. if my moral standards suggest that stealing your car is right for me, then would i be categorized as one of your “most moral people in the world” because i have built and acted upon my own moral standards, which were definitely not imposed by legislators or religious figures?

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Martin Varsavsky on December 4, 2006  · 


This is not just Spain, the same is true of all over Europe. There are less people in jail simply because people commit less crimes than in America. The European system is based more on education, the American is based more on deterrent and punishment.

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Barbaric on February 18, 2007  · 

Or could it be that the fact that less things being considered “criminal behavior” results in less people in jail? I am from the U.S. and I think that we try to criminalize too many things. This results in a higher inmate/convicted population.

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Alexandru Z. on February 18, 2007  · 

Marin Varsavsky, i found your article completely on the opposite corner as your comments. I loved your comments, I completely agree with you, but I can’t understand the article linked with your comments perspective.

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Brenda on February 18, 2007  · 

I only have one thing to add about everything said about Spain as this is where I live: more people need to be sent to prison, i.e. those who commit the same crime again and again but because the laws are so lax are always out on the streets with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. I know I’m not the only person who feels that the law protects criminals rather than its law-abiding citizens. Recently a whole town, who had had enough of living in fear of a certain neighbour, decided to take revenge and burned his house. I’m not condoning this action, but I can certainly understand the reasoning behind it. And also Spains needs more policemen.

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Joe on February 19, 2007  · 

I think another interesting point contrasting more religious countries vs secular ones is the level of violence between them, both internal and external. I am constatntly flabbergasted how many US politicians are constantly saying they are adamantly “pro-life” meanwhile they rush the country to war for the slightest cause, real or imaginged, and then ignore international law by engaing in torture, many times against civilians. The country is armed to the teeth, with teenagers shooting up schools on a monthly basis, the murder rate is the highest in the civilized world, capital punishment, which most civilzed countries consider barbaric and vengeful, is still thriving, and movies and TV shows glorify violence. Meanwhile, the richest country on the planet lets thousands of African children starve on a daily basis without a response and its division between the rich and poor widens evey year. I suspect many of the same things could be said of other religious societies, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, etc. Give me secular Scandanavia over religious societies any day.

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onetwothree on February 19, 2007  · 

“religious countries vs secular ones is the level of violence between them, both internal and external”

Nazi Germany,
Maoist China,
North Korea,
The Soviet Union,
The Khmer Rouge,

All atheistic regimes. The Iraqi war barely registers compared to the crimes of the above.

“with teenagers shooting up schools”

Not too many Christian teenagers, you may be surprised to learn, shoot up their schools. Mostly inner-city blacks who don’t give a damn for religion, one way or the other.

adamantly “pro-life”

That refers to abortion, I’m sure you’re aware. It doesn’t necessarily apply outside of context.

“the richest country on the planet lets thousands of African children starve”

And Christians are responsible how? Why? Didn’t think so. The economics of food production and distributions are so vastly complicated that you can’t even _begin_ to attribute fault. And yet, oh, it must be the _richest_ country’s fault. And since the _richest_ country is (allegedly) Christian, then Christianity must be at fault as well. This is sloppy thinking of the first order.

“movies and TV shows glorify violence”

Perhaps you are under the impression that Hollywood is controlled by a cabal of Christians (snort!)

Okay, okay. I devoted five minutes of my life to tearing apart Joe’s comment. The point is this: Think before you type. Think before you _think_.

Franco was mentioned. Okay–Franco was the one European dictator who _didn’t_ enter WWII. And–he was also the only dictator who was Christian. Now, that’s a very weak connection, but I bring it up to illustrate the simple point that, when you’re throwing out data points in wild fashion, it’s easy to simply exclude the ones that don’t fit your preconceived answer.

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Anonymous on February 19, 2007  · 

“If anything, Spain proves that societies do not fall apart when they give up religion and almost everything that was illegal becomes legal.”

Their fertility rate is 1.1 and close to 100,000 pregnencies were terminated last year, increasing every year since 1985. Societal collapse will take a few generations.

By the way, I’m irreligious and pro choice. I just don’t think Spain is a particularly good model to hold up.

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Juan on February 19, 2007  · 

9/11 was an inside job, perpetrated by the US government under the direction of Bush and Cheney:


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colin g on February 19, 2007  · 

“adamantly “pro-life”
That refers to abortion, I’m sure you’re aware. It doesn’t necessarily apply outside of context.”

Au-contraire, while the popular usage is to apply it to a political stance, the underlying ideology is that human life starts at conception and is so precious, it must be protected at all costs.

Going to war is a manifestation of a political ideology and it almost always results in lives lost. So no pro-war politician can say (s)he is pro-life unless it is almost certain more would die in the absence of the proposed war.

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Deev on February 19, 2007  · 

re: atheistic regimes

Atheistic regimes? Hardly. Secular would be more accurate. Yes, there is a big difference. And religiosity of the people or culture is more relevant to the discussion here in any case — not so much the regime.

The point of the article is disproving that lack of religion implies lack of moral behavior — in more formal terms, negating !A -> !B, where A is religiousness, and B is moral behavior.

!A -> !B is equivalent to A or !B, the negation of which is !A and B. That is to say, to disprove the original assertion, show an example where you have demonstrably low religion, but still moral behavior. Only one example is necessary for this argument — however, many are available.

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Martin Varsavsky on February 19, 2007  · 

Juan, it wasn´t.

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Adrian Cachinero on February 19, 2007  · 

Regarding P2P – P2P is not illegal and it shouldn’t be. Peer 2 Peer technology is currently being used by companies such as Blizzard to make the distribution of data (in this case in the form of updates) more efficient and cost effective. Cracking down on P2P technology is cracking down on innovation and development.

Regarding the use of P2P as a platform for copyright infringement: I am all in favour of copyright infringement. Mostly because the Big Four record labels maintain draconian contracts over the artists – even if you were ‘stealing’ through P2P, you’re not stealing from the artist, you’re stealing from the record label. It’s most hypocritical from the record label lobbies to advocate that they’re being damaged by copyright theft when the contracts they sign with artists mean that the artists _lose_ ownership of the rights to their songs to the record label.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that Hollywood was founded where it is because movie studios tried to escape the East, where Edison held a patent over the movie camera technology the movie studios used to produce their films. Essentially, the movie industry is borne on the foundations of ‘copyright theft’, whatever that means.

Free market capitalism is all about competitiveness and keeping an edge. It’s never been about the governments catering to the needs of the Big Four to make as much money as possible. If the record labels are incapable of taking advantage of the innovative technologies presented to the world, then it really isn’t the consumer’s problem. Evolution takes it’s toll on the dinosaurs of the market. It’s also rather naive to claim that it’s hard to take advantage of new tech when iTunes has had visible and incredible success, and the second most succesful online music store (eMusic) doesn’t even use DRM schemes to screw the consumer.

Spain has a correct attitude towards copyright, but the leading edge of thought is in Scandinavia, with the Pirate Party and with the recent Norway ruling demanding that iTunes allow interoperation with other devices.

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Anonymous on February 19, 2007  · 



Sorry, but nice try painting the Nazi movement as “atheist.”

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netizen on February 19, 2007  · 

I don’t understand your attempt to correlate p2p activity in your article. It seems far more likely that Spain lacks significant native media production (aka their own “Hollywood”). Why would Spain bother enforcing these types of laws when the benefit for Spanish companies is low? I am speculating of course, but it actually surprises me a little. Other countries with very liberal IP laws (Sweden, Netherlands, etc) are relatively small markets who consume lots of non-native content.

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Spiros on February 19, 2007  · 

In general the post is very interesting, but I think that’s how most of Europe is nowdays…

Also, regarding Claudio’s comment:
“That is the New Temple for many Spaniards. The most widely prescribed medicines in our public health systems are anti depressants (second consumer in the world after France). The value of education is non existent. We have fallen below even the “stupid” Americans in the rankings. Only Portugal and Greece fare worse in Europe.”

Your claim about Greece and Portugal (at least about Greece that I know of) is completely bogus. Lower GDP per capita (and this by a couple thousand euros), does not mean non-value of education or poorer culture.

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Marc Holt on February 19, 2007  · 

Killy-the-Frog, your question about P2P is a valid one. I don’t see the correlation between loss of religion and P2P. However, I disagree with your assumption that downloading songs and movies is illegal. If you download for your own consumption, this is no different than me lending you a CD to listen to. However, if you download to resell someone else’s work without paying for it, then that is not right. Perhaps your comment is trying to point out that downloading is unethical. But so is what the RIAA is doing. Instead of targeting ordinary people who want to enjoy the music they download, they should be going after the pirates reselling the material they download. Until the RIAA gets its priorities right, not many of us are going to sympathize with them.

As for Spain and Italy getting out from under the thumb of the church, I say Congratulations! It just goes to show that better education encourages people to question the fairytales the church has been feeding them for centuries.

Now, if only we could educate the Muslims so that they, too, begin to question Islam.

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Gary on February 20, 2007  · 

Do you have any sources you could share to show the results you mentioned? Or is this just something you “feel”?

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nikolai on February 20, 2007  · 

Religion is just fine; as long as it’s kept out of the schools and the gov’t. Who says? Christ says! He said to pay Ceasar his taxes but otherwise to stay neutral to gov’t, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Pope, etal.

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Nick Chandler on February 20, 2007  · 

Wish I could speak french… or spainish or whatever they speak! =)

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bongjong73 on February 20, 2007  · 

In Spain people openly use Limewire, Zudeo, eMule for legal and what in other countries is illegal content without fear of being prosecuted. The only truly illegal activity in is people who download music/movies, print CDs or DVDs and sell them.,/i>

That is so blind and ignorant on your part. It is illegal. If you do not pay for it, you technically don’t own the intellectual property rights. It may not “seem” like stealing because you are taking from the huge record labels. But the fact still remains that stealing is stealing no matter how small.

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Jose on February 20, 2007  · 

Well Spain does have much to offer.
Lots of French and British are leaving their native lands for Spain….id like to know more about legal-prostitution if so id love to go to Spain..never wanted to before but youve wet my lips.
Spanish girls are HOT! or Caliente!

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conspirisi on February 20, 2007  · 

spain, as beautiful as it is, is not at the avante garde of Europe. The only time it was at the forefront of the world was when it was under the Muslims.

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Anonymous on February 20, 2007  · 

Add Greece to your list!

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Known on February 20, 2007  · 

Kudos to Spanish people for realizing the difference between god and religion.

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Mnl G on February 20, 2007  · 

> Franco was mentioned. Okay–Franco was the one
> European dictator who _didn’t_ enter WWII.
> And–he was also the only dictator who was
> Christian.

Mussolini was catholic. Quite a lot so. Sorry, pal.

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Thomas A on February 20, 2007  · 

Marc. How can education be considered improved if it encourages people to question the absolute truth (excuse me, “fairytales”) provided by core Christian beliefs derived from the Bible?

Now before you label me ignorant and disillusioned, I assure you that I’m aware of the fact that the Church, be it the Catholic Church, or the various other denominations of Christianity, does not have a perfect history. The Crusades, Conquest of the Americas, and many other negative activities that even continue today (bombings on abortion clinics) were supported by Christians and have left their mark.

However, none of these negative activities or false beliefs (universe revolves around the earth) are supported by core Christian values found in the Bible. They are the results of corrupt humans who have misinterpreted or abused the religion and used it as a front for power and personal gain.

This is Similar to how many governments have and are being used buy corrupt officials. The only difference is that Governments can never be perfect because of humans, whereas the Bible and the truth in it is perfect, because its making was free of human interference.

So to say that Christianity is wrong and full of fairytales because of the false beliefs and problems caused by people in the religion, is ludicrous. The truth may be twisted and used for corrupt reasons, but it remains the truth.

I would also hope that if anyone responds to this, that they would stray from any marginalization of Christianity merely saying how ‘absurd it is to believe in God,’ or associate Christianity with fairytales, mysticism, or something paradoxical to reality and then leave it at that.

If you’re going to claim it as false, show some evidence or logical reasoning, otherwise your comments are just hollow insults.

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Swampfoot on February 20, 2007  · 

onetwothree, please pick up a book once in awhile. The Nazi regime was CHRISTIAN. To its very core. Allow me to quote Mein Kampf (http://nobeliefs.com/hitler.htm):

“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”

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Diego on February 20, 2007  · 

I wonder why some people here are lumping Italy together with Spain. Though abortion and divorce are legal in Italy, prostitution, drug personal use and gay marriage are definitely not.
The catholic church is still powerful in Italy.
It must be said, thoug, that many intellectuals in Italy are openly atheist (e.g. Umbert Eco) as some politicians (e.g. former Prime Minister D’Alema)

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Thomas A on February 20, 2007  · 

Swampfoot. While Hitler may have been a pronounced Christian, he also drew many ideas from Nietzsche, who was blatantly against the idea of any God at all. Hitler’s actions were contradictory to his acclaimed religion, and fell more in line with Nietzsche than anything else. It’s one more example of someone abusing religion and using it as a front for power and personal gain.

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anonymous on February 20, 2007  · 

“Nothing Much”!!!?? Come on, the before and after that you described is something much. Giving up religion is huge thing in itself. The disappearance of morals is only natural when the religion that kept it in place is gone. But don’t tell me that the before and after is nothing much. Last time I checked, the truth is universal and so is right and wrong. It doesn’t matter what the majority thinks. The majority is not always right you know.

Anyways, continue with your nude beaches, your orgies, and your drugs. Don’t forget to take your kids and your grandparents to your parties since their is nothing wrong with those things, right?

You have a religion. Your religion is your desires. That is what you worship. You are enslaved by it and completely devoted to it and will die on this religion. You will teach it to your children and it will continue.

Here are your 6 commandments:
abortion, drugs, sex, gambling, prostitution, gay marriage

And these are high and noble morals? Grow up and practice some self-discipline.

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Bob on February 20, 2007  · 

Take a good look at the many hatreds of “the good book” at: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

For human justice you need to leave organized religion behind and embrace faith where faith belongs, in humanity. Faith in humanity prevents doing harm to others; when we lose faith in each other by replacing it with faith in an imaginary superman, faith is misplaced and leads to hatred of groups and individuals.

We know that humans have great imagination and use it to invent fictional stories and fictional characters. We also know that all the many gods of history have the characteristics of fictional characters. The obvious conclusion is that gods are not real.

Hitler and Stalin were very bad examples of humanity, but they were both examples of headstrong Christians. Stalin was kicked out of Seminary school in his fifth year because he was too much of an activist for the staid Orthodox Church. After investing so many years, I’m sure he had some getting even on his mind, but it is most telling that after the war, when he had little to gain, he named the Orthodox Church to be the State Church; his heart was still very much in it. Read: “Hitler and Stalin:Parallel Lives”. The state church of Russia is still Orthodox despite US lies about it being being Atheist.

When one assumes that “good books” were inspired by gods, so can one believe that the likes of Hitler and Stalin were inspired by the same. “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you
commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

Surely we can’t judge humanity by its worst examples; that would be like judging gods, priests, the RC Church, etc. by their worst attributes and deeds. I daresay that humans for the most part are good and well meaning despite some less wholesome traits. Steve Pinker wrote: “The conscious mind- the self or soul – is a spin doctor, not the commander in chief. “, and so we spin whatever yarns make us feel better about ourselves and the real, scary yet wondrous, world and universe in which we find ourselves. Such yarns are evident in the Bible; only a fool would believe they are true. For a religious liar, lies are Truth and scientifically proven truths are lies. It is so telling that the KKK and the Mafia (and the Vatican’s links with organized crime) are so monotheistic.

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terik ororke on March 3, 2007  · 

That is your opinion. When Spain starts taking away freedoms, you might begin to understand. Right now it seems as if you are very free, but that, my friend is but an illusion.

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RM on March 8, 2007  · 

Great, now if we could only get rid of religion in the U.S and the middle east, we could have some real hope at peace and deveopment.

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Atila the Hunt on March 9, 2007  · 

I think this person is misguided he probably compares the slums of NY and crime in the big apple to the Spanish society of today which by the fact of being European has by definition a higher degree of civilization. To begin with, he talks about the Spain of Franco and to do so he should have had to live under his regime, otherwise he is just expressing an opinion without a foundation. The Spain of today is a sewer of filth and corruption. Every mafia in the world has established their presence there. The two main industries are construction and prostitution and with the relaxation of previous laws the consequences are the looting of the working people being enslaved under the burden of debt created by the international money mafia. Under Franco there was order, respect for the worker and controls against the abuses of today. Clearly there are many people today that have being brainwash by the lies and distortion of the controlled mass media. One can not forget the past without running the risk of repeating it. Ignorance is bliss and there is a price that no doubt will be paid with blood, unfortunately Satan and his cohorts appear to be in charge today of our societies.

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justin on March 9, 2007  · 

This is a great discussion, which has brought up many important points, and in general I’ve liked what I’ve read. However, there are some serious errors in various assessments of brutal leaders who many or may not have ascribed to atheism, and the results attributed to it.

In all such regimes, oppression originates from the conceptualisation of reality by its leaders, and their goals in that reality. To get to their positions of authority, these views are typically masked with appeals to nationalism and/or identity pride of one form or another. The creation of an Us and Them boundary, when nationalistic, seperates that country from others, but more specific idenity boundaries (such as the Arian race from the Jews or other groups as in Nazi Germany) can underlie that identity conected to the nation at large. This clearly creates or feeds off of a prejudice (either based on immediate need for a scapegoat – for any particular reason -, or drawing from a tradition of perjudice of a certain group – the Jews get that one alot, and lately Muslims). Now if I’m not mistaken, the Bible, and countless other religious texts, are rife with prejudices(whether or not they are contradicted in the very same text), or reasons to create prejudices by interpretation later on (because of the creation of rules and boundaries errected in that religion which its followers are to adhere to, and those who don’t are subject to whatever punishment – or lack of punishment – the followers decide to impliment and justify). Atheism leaves no such room for this to occur at face value because there is no strong identity as atheist beyond a personal level. Atheism is not something that draws people together, nor does it divide them (save in today’s societies where atheists identify with one another because of a shared sense of being ostrisized by the greater religious community – which is the majority -, though this has not created a violence towards others by atheists, unless a reason – having no direct connection to atheism itself – is found to do so). If an “atheistic” ruler creates prejudices it is because they fit that ruler’s conceptualization of the world. The adoption of these sentiments by the greater community is based on the rulers ability to sell his/her own beliefs to that population. This is how persecution and possibly atrocities towards others occur, but it has nothing to do inherently with atheism, and religion has certainly not prevented it from happening.

This line of reasoning also assumes an acceptance of these actions of the leader by the general population, when often times the actions are hidden from the population (such is the case in many actions taken by the US around the world), or carried out inspite of the general will (after sufficient oppressive power has been seived by the ruler to allow them the ability), as in the case of Saddam with his minority approval and majority suppression of the various sects of Islam in Iraq.

I’ll leave one little side note for that Bible nut who was talking about absolute truths with no human interference. If you’ve ever studied the history of the Bible, you would know it is entirely a work of human intereference. It has been rewritten and translated so many times that the differences between the earliest found versions of these texts are markedly different from versions popular today. Furthermore, who do you think wrote the Bible. A person, who put their own spin into it based on how they viewed the world. Also, as far as the books of the Apostles, they wrote those based on information from either recollection, or relayed to them long after the death of Jesus by others who supposedly knew what the were talking about and could give exact accounts of what they experienced or heard after much passage of time. None of it was written verbatum from the words of Jesus as can be supported by any serious fact.

I’m done.

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justin on March 9, 2007  · 

Looks like I need to add a little more, I just noticed some more intolerant religiocity that needs shooting down.

This goes out to “anonymous” – #39…..

Look idiot:

“Here are your 6 commandments:
abortion, drugs, sex, gambling, prostitution, gay marriage

And these are high and noble morals? Grow up and practice some self-discipline.”

This….this is garbage. First of all, the “6 commandments” for atheists, as you put it, are not things we believe in necessarily, they are things we allow. Why?…because we have evolved cognitively to the point where we realize not every person should have to perscribe to the same life-path as everyone else, and not every manifestation of our very complex and beautiful ability to make vast and varying decisions on issues and choises we are presented with in life is the right one for all others. So long as those decisions don’t impact the lives of those others in ways they didn’t intend or desire, people are free to make choices as they see fit for themselves (granted sometimes those things you listed have ended in others being negatively affected, but I, as an atheist, don’t support it where the stong possibility for such occurrances exists, and those instances are by no means the typical case). If your God didn’t want us to have the ability to make decisions, right or wrong as they may seem, that God wouldn’t have given us the ability to do so.

Secondly, these things you list as commandments are nothing more than the decisions free individuals made that they believe work for them. They have no bearing on what all atheists believe, and their prevailence in secular society (and for some of those it’s not limited to secular society, chief…..for instance priests touching little boys….what?…do you think the devil made them do it?….how’s that for self-discipline) has more to do with poor role models popularizing them than with some belief system you arbitrarily assign to all atheists. Actually, by religion making them forbiden, for some it makes the act of doing them all the more entising. But I digress. I must point out as well that religion has just as much the ability, given the wrong role models, to make what may be seen as bad decisions, emulated by large populations. I give you the crusades, the descruction of thousands of native cultures worldwide who did nothing wrong apart from subscribe to the wrong set of beliefs according to those acting against them, etc. And look at just those two examples, they affect what is cumulatively, likely in the realm of hundreds of millions of people with anything from minor mistreatment up to and including their deaths. How many people has gay marriage killed, except for maybe someone’s overly religious grandmother who died of a shock induced heartattack when she heard the news. I don’t aspire to deprive you your right to practice religion, so long as you don’t aspire to make me do, or force me not to do, shit I don’t want to do.

Lastly, if you’re idea of self-discipline is forcing your beliefs on everyone else, you have a severe misconseption of what self-discipline is. I am an atheist. I am disciplined to the extent that I have devoted my life to helping those without rights or who suffer abismal standards of living. I look for ways to foster peace and equality so that all people may at least hope to live a decent life. I have created my own moral code based around my view of the world, a world where many people need lots of help, overwhelmingly the case through no fault of their own, and I look for the best way I can to address this. If I decide to puff on a pipe, or “release” some tension that tends to build up when you try to do the right thing as often as possible, does that make me evil? I ask you, when was the last time you spent four hours in below freezing weather, going door to door collecting bottles so that the returns may be donated to feed the homeless. I did last Saturday. How often do you ignore that bum on the street begging for a quarter, for whatever reason, while I give them a dollar (or five once by accident) whenever I can spare it. I am a student in university studying peace mediation in international conflict. But to you, I am a sinner, a moralless secular who will swiftly be carried off to the fires of hell upon my demise. You tell atheists to grow up….I am but 19 years old, but I have done more growing, and spent more effort in understanding the world and how to make it better (rather than ranting about how evil everyone is), than you have in what I can only guess to be at least several more years than what I have experienced. Take this for what you will.

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beemerup on March 9, 2007  · 

Of course you would have less people in jail if nothing is illegal. Duhh! Where murder is no longer a crime, but a “choice”, like killing babies thru abortion, of course you don’t need as many police to keep order, because first of all, no one knows the difference between right and wrong anymore. Why bother keeping score when everything is “right”? When ANY society abandons GOD, it falls. Look at history.

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Cesar on March 9, 2007  · 

Spain may have become more tolerant, but crime has become a huge problem in the past couple of years.

Not saying Franco era was crimeless but you could pretty much walk the streets at anytime of the day or night. Not the case now.

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RootsMan on March 9, 2007  · 

To the entire Atheist and Agnostic community out there, you are constantly deceiving yourselves. Yes I believe that people should in general yearn to do good as opposed to bad/evil, however, without the GOD concept, good or evil would be non-existent. I hate to burst your Atheist/Agnostic bubble, but I am sure that, even you, will humbly yourselves to GOD, and beg for mercy if faced with a life threatening situation. I myself do not prescribe to religious traditions, because they are just traditions, but I hold on to the FAITH that there is a GOD out there and our deeds will not go un-noticed. Your deeds in this conscious life WILL determine where and how you live your eternal hereafter. Peace to you all and I will pray for you.

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Susan Evans on March 9, 2007  · 

To me your comments are absolutely astounding. You reel off a list of genuinely wicked behavioral items at the top of your article, and then you end your article by saying that everything’s OK with society. What you have taken out of the equation is God. He has said that fornication, homosexuality, stealing, public nudity, prostitution, adultery, lying, gossip, pornography, illicit drug usage, using His name in vain, crudeness, etc., are all sinful, destructive things. The church merely repeats what God’s standards are, so please don’t blame the church for standing up for God’s ways. (The church–ANY church–should promote God’s word, but they didn’t write it thousands of years ago.) The Bible says, “Woe to those who call good evil and evil good.” That is exactly what is going on in today’s world: If God says don’t do it, the world says, “We are GOING to do it, and there’s nothing wrong with it.” Please–everyone (including me)–for the sake of present and future societies, STUDY God’s word and do your best to APPLY it in your everyday lives. Then, and only then, can we have the paradise on earth that God intended for us to have. We’re not perfect, but–by using God’s word as a compass–we can STRIVE in that direction. Respectfully, a Sincere Christian

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Joshua on March 9, 2007  · 

Christianity is a relationship not a religion. Homosexuals, lesbians, and the srewballs who destroy marriage cannot have force their beliefs into the Bible. The Bible cannot and will not be change to adapt to anyone’s lifestyles. It never has and never will. No God is not stereotyping or bias. He knows the consequences of disobedience. For homosexuals, it is aids. You can’t create God. When you remove God from a country, that country goes to the dogs because they now have no morals of right and wrong. God commanded us to multiply in Genesis. How can gays multiple if they are degenerate?

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Anonymous on March 9, 2007  · 

amen Justin.

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Rudy D Franklin on March 9, 2007  · 

Can I believe in MOTHER NATURE, instead?

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Sharon Martinez on March 9, 2007  · 

I’ve lived in Spain since the 80’s. My comments wont be as eloquent as all of yours, but I feel like commenting anyway.

It’s true that Catholicism has been taken out of the political arena etc. But it still most definately exists as a political and marketing tool. The board of directors at my bank in Oviedo are 1/2 priests.

The Catholic religion receives high regard and still has a lot of control over peoples thoughts and ethics. Marriages happen in churches not because of history, but because their families would be MORTIFIED if they weren’t held in a church and married by the priest.

It is most likely that Spaniards are Catholics by tradition AND by conviction. It’s the most influential institution in all the schools and businesses in my opinion. My girlfriend who is an elementary teacher is not allowed to work in the public schools in Spain because she’s not Catholic. How’s that for influence?

People in Spain are very religious and the Catholic tradition plays more to their ideas than governmental regulations.

I’m from the United States (Utah) and my experience having been a Mormon in the U.S. and in Spain is that the U.S. population is more tolerant of different religions than is Spain, even with all the immigrants in Spain, I don’t think there’s much if any tolerance for different religions. No need to be mad at me for saying that, just look around and see what happens when somebody changes religions in Spain, they are often disowned and ostrecized. It happens in the U.S. also, but not to the degree I’ve seen in Spain.

It would be interesting to take a poll and see what Spaniards think on this issue. Do THEY think their society has changed much without as much religious control in the government or do they think their society has gotten worse?

I find Spain to be full of violence and drugs. I also find that a teenagers parents would rather have their children be drug addits their whole life, than ever being active in another church than the Catholic church. It’s their heritage and they are so committed to it.

To the last point. The religious aspects are disappearing from Spanish government etc. but Spain hasn’t really changed because of it. The biggest influence in Spain is the Catholic Church. Spaniards are deeply religious and tied to their traditions. I don’t think that will ever change.

I look forward to your comments. Here it comes:)

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Anonymous on March 9, 2007  · 

TO #15

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Martin Varsavsky on March 9, 2007  · 


live and let live, please. And there´s a limit to what we tolerate in this blog. Gays are not degenerate.

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Uri L. on March 9, 2007  · 

Interesting post…thanks.

A friend of mine from Spain even told me that doing drugs during weddings is a common habit nowadays.

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J on March 23, 2007  · 

I am dissapointed to see so much ignorance doing so bold statements by both sides.
Perhaps most of you think you know how Spain and spaniards are just because you have lived here for some years.
I am a middleaged spanish and i can tell most of you are wrong in a lot of ways.

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Brenda on March 25, 2007  · 

Amen to both numbers 47 and 57.

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Phil on March 28, 2007  · 

The Spanish are a wonderful people.

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James Forsyth on August 21, 2007  · 

I find the following sentence from the article interesting: “Now the only religious group in Spain are Muslim immigrants”.

Although a gross generalisation and distortion this point is deserving of some attention. It is true that Islam is gaining a strong foothold in many formerly Christian countries. This is for two reasons: (1) a higher birth rate, and (2) converts to Islam from other religions (or from no religion).

I have two questions for Martin:

(1) You seem to applaud the decline of Christianity in Spain. Though you probably have different motives, the “only religious group” (the Muslims) would most likely applaud too. Given your shared goals, would you prefer to live under Islamic Sharia law?

(2) I am a Christian. Do you think my faith should be outlawed?


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Martin Varsavsky on August 22, 2007  · 


I made a mistake writing that sentence. I should have said, “now the only growing religious group is Muslims immigrants”. As to my views all religions are fine but pls get them out of politics!

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oc on December 26, 2007  · 

Seems to me that America is a more influenced by consumerism than by religion. Abortion is legal, there is gay marriage, passive euthanasia, gambling everywhere, advertising everywhere, free porn piped into every house and easily available at public libraries. Premarital sex is a given for teenagers. The financial system is in a uproar over subprime mortgages that was a big ponzi scheme. Our country kills innocent people in Iraq so we have gas. Nobody complains as long as the good times roll.

What are all these religious people accomplishing? Sure there is alot of moralizing, but what do they change? Besides every social group is always telling the others how to live.

Now the internet is a swamp of ads. Sports shows are a swamp of ads. Our biggest heroes aren’t reglious people, they are pitchmen like Oprah and J-Lo.

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ed on January 4, 2008  · 

I back up Sharon #58. I’m an american who has lived in Madrid for a number of years and I think your summary missed the point as to how important catholicism is in power. As much as the country may be experiencing liberal tendencies (gay marriage, secularism, etc), large catholic families and their interconnections really run everything. Opus dei has tremendous influence, especially in the PP party. People may be more open minded than in earlier generations but these “traditions” still wield tremendous influence. While in the US there may be religious connections it is no where near as closed and as important as in Spain.

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Ralph on January 9, 2008  · 

Interesting discussion. I have several points:

1) Several people have suggested that secular societies can be equally or even more moral than religious ones. I guess that depends on your definition of moral. If someone defines abortion as immoral while another defines abortion as moral who is “more moral”. I think morality should have a much narrower definition. For example, “Killing when not in defense of yourself or others is immoral”. This would make abortion immoral for 99.9% of cases and hence would make societies that allow abortion immoral.

2) A lot of people are pointing their fingers at so called religious countries, (in particular Christian countries) as being oppresive or doing things that they consider wrong or evil or bad. My comment here is that if you want to see what any religion is about look at what their faith teaches and then look at the people that really practice that faith. In terms of Christianity you will find real Christians giving huge amounts of money to charitable organizations all over the world who help a lot of people regardless of their lifestyle or faith. I heard somewhere, (although I’ll need to research it to make sure) that most of the hospitals in Africa were started by Christians. Basically what I am saying is religion changes an individual for better or worse and using Christianity as an example I see more real Christians being selfless than non-Christians.

3) For the people who commented on abortion in Spain and how great that is will maybe change their minds when they get overrun by muslims who have 3x+ the birth rate of non-muslims in Europe. Sharia law is just around the corner friends and if you don’t think this can happen look at the history of Lebanon.

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david xiste on September 15, 2008  · 

Hello. I’m from Spanish State. Actually the Catholic church have no real power. Only the 10-20% of the poputation are religious, and the most of them, old people! I don’t believe Sharon Martinez when she said that a girl don’t get a job in a public college because she was no catholic. In the spanish state you only can get a public jobs when you past a hard test (or two); and the test don’t answer your religion. The most you can find is lobby called OPUS with important people but i think they are more interesting in money 🙂 than religion. AH! maybe the gipsy people of the south of the state.
That all. The religion is dead, the most of the people in the churchs are tourist triyng to find the “deep spain”

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