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Europe and its Muslim minorities

sites along the Jordan River. Syria’s Christians, who numbered 2.3 million before the eruption of the 2011 civil war there, have shrunk to 400,000 (!) and their numbers continue to spiral downward. In the northern Syrian town of Raqqa, now controlled by the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, Christians are allowed to stay only if they pay a poll tax of $650 in Syrian pounds, worship in one only church, and do not ring bells, evangelise or pray within earshot of a Muslim. Christians in other parts of Syria are less fortunate: YouTube is full of horrific videos

in Haunted presents

. In such circumstances it was hardly surprising that the majority of church activists supported the Nationalist cause, and in the late 1930s church publications often depicted Franco’s army as fighting a religious crusade. 9 Many leading churchmen hoped that the Nationalist victory would not only see off the (as they saw it) communist inspired anti-clerical threat but that it would enable them to restore their privileged position within the country. The more idealistic hoped for a political context within which a new evangelisation of the country could take place

in Christianity and democratisation

cultural nationalism and opposition to sexual license and homosexuality – but also because the church leadership sought recognition and incorporation into elite circles. Yet whilst one can focus on church elites seeking upward social mobility, it also tied in with their core theological commitment to creating the best conditions for evangelisation and church growth, a goal that was placed well above commitments to human rights or particular political regimes. And when Mugabe’s policies led to an economic decline that affected their core constituency at the turn of the

in Christianity and democratisation

, existing groups were able to flourish and develop, opening new churches and educational institutions, freely educating their clergy, engaging in teaching and charitable activities, and spreading their message through the media and in public places. The vast majority of these groups were home-grown, though because some were previously ‘underground’ and much maligned by the Soviet media they often appeared exotic or strange to many Russians. At the same time a variety of religious groups outside the country were now allowed to evangelise or to support their religious

in Christianity and democratisation

relationship a constraint, as it had not contributed to a significant evangelisation of the population nor enabled the Church to serve the wider population. As a young clergyman Tarancón was very involved in social activism, castigating the authorities for their lack of concern for the poor during the 1950s and antagonising episcopal colleagues by his critique of Spain’s formal religiosity which disguised the lack of real spiritual depth. 8 In 1971 Tarancón was elected president of the National Conference of Bishops, and under his leadership the Church openly committed

in Christianity and democratisation