National church

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This article discusses 'national churches' in the ethnic sense. See state church for church organizations at a national level. For Catholic churches in Rome associated with various countries, see National churches in Rome.
A Church of Denmark parish church in Holte, with the Dannebrog flying in its kirkyard

National church is a concept of a Christian church associated with a specific ethnic group or nation state. The idea was notably discussed during the 19th century, during the emergence of modern nationalism.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in a draft discussing the question of church and state around 1828 wrote that

"a National Church might exist, and has existed, without [Christianity], because before the institution of the Christian Church - as [...] the Levitical Church in the Hebrew Constitution, [and] the Druidical in the Celtic, would suffice to prove".[1]

John Wordsworth, bishop of Salisbury, wrote about the National Church of Sweden in 1911, interpreting the Church of Sweden and the Church of England as national churches of the Swedish and the English peoples, respectively. Lake (1987) traces the development of Presbyterianism in 16th-century England from the status of a "godly minority" which saw itself surrounded by the corrupt or hostile mass of the population, into a "genuine national church".[2]

The concept of a national church remains alive in the Protestantism of England and Scandinavia in particular. While, in a context of England, the national church remains a common denominator for the Church of England, some of the Lutheran "folk churches" of Scandinavia, characterized as national churches in the ethnic sense as opposed to the idea of a state church, emerged in the second half of the 19th century, following the lead of Grundtvig.[3] However, in countries in which the state church (also known as the established church) has the following of the majority of citizens, the state church may also be the national church, and may be declared as such by the government e.g. Church of Denmark,[4] Church of Greece,[5] Church of Iceland.[6]

Countries[edit]

Country National Church Denomination
 Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church[7] Oriental Orthodox Christian
 Bulgaria Bulgarian Orthodox Church[8] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Denmark Church of Denmark[9] Lutheran Christian
 England Church of England[10] Anglican Christian
 Egypt Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria[11] Oriental Orthodox Christian
 Estonia Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church[12] Lutheran Christian
 Ethiopia Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church[13] Oriental Orthodox Christian
 Faroe Islands Church of the Faroe Islands[14] Lutheran Christian
 Finland Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland[15] & Finnish Orthodox Church[16] Lutheran Christian & Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Georgia Georgian Orthodox Church[17] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Germany Evangelical Church in Germany[18] & Catholic Church[18] Lutheran Christian & Catholic Christian
 Greece Church of Greece[19] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Iceland Church of Iceland[20] Lutheran Christian
 Lebanon Maronite Church[21] Catholic Christian
 Macedonia Macedonian Orthodox Church[22] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Norway Church of Norway[23] Lutheran Christian
 Philippines Philippine Independent Church Anglican Christian
 Russia Russian Orthodox Church[24] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Scotland Church of Scotland[25] Presbyterian Christian
 Serbia Serbian Orthodox Church[26] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Sweden Church of Sweden[27] Lutheran Christian
 Tuvalu Church of Tuvalu[28] Reformed Christian
 Ukraine Ukrainian Orthodox Church[29] Eastern Orthodox Christian
 Wales Church in Wales[30] Anglican Christian

Criticism[edit]

Karl Barth denounced as heretical the tendency of "nationalizing" the Christian God, especially in the context of national churches sanctioning warfare against other Christian nations during World War I.[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Samuel Taylor Coleridge. On the Constitution of the Church and State. Classic Books Company; 2001. ISBN 978-0-7426-8368-6. p. 59.
  2. ^ Peter Lake, Maria Dowling, Protestantism and the national church in sixteenth century England, Taylor & Francis, 1987, ISBN, 9780709916819, ch. 8 (193ff.)
  3. ^ Dag Thorkildsen, 'Scandinavia: Lutheranism and national identity', in World Christianities, c. 1815-1914, vol. 8 of The Cambridge history of Christianity, eds. Sheridan Gilley, Brian Stanley, Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-521-81456-0, pp. 342–358.
  4. ^ Shadid, W. A. R. (1 January 1995). Religious Freedom and the Position of Islam in Western Europe. Peeters Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 9789039000656. Denmark has declared the Evangelical Lutheran church to be that national church (par. 4 of the Constitution), which corresponds the fact that 91.5% of the population are registered members of this church. This declaration implies that the Danish State does not take a neutral stand in religious matters. Nevertheless, freedom of religion has been incorporated in the Constitution. Nielsen (1992, 77) gives a short description of the position of the minority religious communities in comparison to that of the State Church: The Lutheran established church is a department of the state. Church affairs are government by a central government ministry, and clergy are government employees. The registration of births, deaths and marriages falls under this ministry of church affairs, and normally speaking the local Lutheran pastor is also the official registrar. The other small religious communities, viz. Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Jews, have the constitutional status of 'recognised communities of faith'. ... Contrary to the minority religious communities, the Lutheran Church is fully financed by the Danish State. 
  5. ^ Enyedi, Zsolt; Madeley, John T.S. (2 August 2004). Church and State in Contemporary Europe. Routledge. p. 228. ISBN 9781135761417. Both as a state church and as a national church, the Orthodox Church of Greece has a lot in common with Protestant state churches, and even with Catholicism in some countries. 
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing. 1 January 2005. p. 283. ISBN 9780816069835. When Iceland obtained home rule in 1874, the new constitution, while granting religious freedom, maintained the Evangelical Lutheran Church as "a national church . . . supported by the State." This was reaffirmed in the 1944 constitution of the new independent Republic of Iceland. Democratic reforms were adopted early in the 20th century that allowed for some independent decision making in parish councils, and let congregations choose their own pastors. Under a 1998 law, the church became largely autonomous, though it is still designated established church, supported by government taxes. At the end of the 19th century, Lutherans who wanted freedom from the state church founded the Evangelical Free Church of Iceland, which now has in excess of 7,000 members. The majority of Icelanders are members of the state church. Almost all children are baptized as Lutheran and more than 90 percent are subsequently confirmed. The Church conducts 75 percent of all marriages and 99 percent of all funerals. 
  7. ^ Ágoston, Gábor; Masters, Bruce Alan (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 9781438110257. The Armenian Apostolic Church, sometimes referred to as the Gregorian Armenian Church by Western scholars, serves as the national church of the Armenian people. 
  8. ^ Hall, Richard C. (1 January 2012). The Modern Balkans: A History. Reaktion Books. p. 51. ISBN 9781780230061. While this did not restore the Ohrid patriarchate, it did acknowledge the separation between the Orthodox church in Constantinople and the Bulgarian Orthodox church, which was now free to develop as the Bulgarian national church. 
  9. ^ Venbrux, Eric; Quartier, Thomas; Venhorst, Claudia; Brenda Mathijssen (September 2013). Changing European Death Ways. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 178. ISBN 9783643900678. Simultaneously the church tax, ministers being public servants, and the status of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark as the national church indicate that the state lends its support to the church. 
  10. ^ Britannicus (1834). The Church of England. p. 17. Having, in my last, arrive at the great points which I wished to establish--the apostolicity, independence, and authority of the Church of England; and that she is necessarily the National Church, because Christianity is the National Religion. 
  11. ^ Makari, Peter E. (2007). Conflict & Cooperation: Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Egypt. Syracuse University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780815631446. The Coptic Orthodox Church is the historic, and national, church of Egypt and is deeply tied to a monastic tradition of spiritual growth and preparation for ministry of monks and nuns, a tradition that continues to thrive. 
  12. ^ Elvy, Peter (1991). Opportunities and Limitations in Religious Broadcasting. Edinburgh: CTPI. p. 23. ISBN 9781870126151. Denominationally Estonia is Lutheran. During the time of national independence (1918-1940), 80% of the population belonged to the Lutheran National Church, about 17% were Orthodox Christians and the rest belonged to Free Churches. 
  13. ^ Lorance, Cody (2008). Ethnographic Chicago. p. 140. ISBN 9780615218625. Her findings show that the development of the national church of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which began in the fourth century and made Christianity the state religion of Ethiopia, was also a major contributor to national development in the fields of independence, social progress, national unity and empowerment, literary development, arts, architecture, music, publication, and declaration of a national language and leadership, both spiritually and military. 
  14. ^ Proctor, James (13 May 2013). Faroe Islands. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 19. ISBN 9781841624563. Religion is important to the Faroese and 84% of the population belongs to the established national church in the islands, the Evangelical—Lutheran Foroya Kirkja, which has 61 churches in the Faroes and three out of every four marriages are held in one. 
  15. ^ Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. Britanncia Educational Publishing. 1 June 2013. p. 77. ISBN 9781615309955. One of Finland's national churches is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Finnish: Suomen Evankelis—luterilainen—kirkko), or simply the Church of Finland. 
  16. ^ Kaplan, Robert B.; Baldauf, Richard B. (2005). Language Planning and Policy in Europe. Multilingual Matters. p. 147. ISBN 9781853598111. Currently, a clear majority of the population belongs to the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, and 1% of the population are members of the other national church, the Finnish Orthodox Church (see Table 7). 
  17. ^ Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (21 September 2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. ABC-CLIO. p. 1195. ISBN 9781598842043. The Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) is the Eastern Orthodox Christian body that serves as the national church of the Caucasian country of Georgia. The great majority of Georgians are members of the church. 
  18. ^ a b Gelder, Craig Van (2008). The Missional Church and Denominations. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 9780802863584. Germany's two churches (the National Church for the Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church) were “proper”with respect to their polities. 
  19. ^ Miller, James Edward (2009). The United States and the Making of Modern Greece: History and Power, 1950-1974. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780807832479. The creation of a national church of Greece, which the patriarch reluctantly recognized in 1850, set a pattern for other emerging Balkan states to form national churches independent of Constantinople. 
  20. ^ Wilcox, Jonathan; Latif, Zawiah Abdul (1 September 2006). Iceland. Marshall Cavendish. p. 85. ISBN 9780761420743. The National Church of Iceland, formally called the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, is the state religion, and the president of Iceland is its supreme authority. 
  21. ^ Ajami, Fouad (30 May 2012). The Syrian Rebellion. Hoover Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780817915063. The Maronite Church is a national church. Its creed is attachment to Lebanon and its independence. The founding ethos of the Maronites is their migration from the Syrian plains to the freedom and “purity” of their home in Mount Lebanon. 
  22. ^ Rae, Heather (15 August 2002). State Identities and the Homogenisation of Peoples. Cambridge University Press. p. 278. ISBN 9780521797085. The creation of a national Church was also central to building national identity, with the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) established in 1967, much to the outrage of the Serbian Orthodox Church. 
  23. ^ Cristofori, Rinaldo; Ferrari, Silvio (28 February 2013). Law and Religion in the 21st Century: Relations between States and Religious Communities. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 9781409497332. The State shall support all religious communities including the Church of Norway on an equal footing, but the Church of Norway shall 'remain the people's Church and is as such supported by the State', thereby upholding its function as a national Church. 
  24. ^ Prizel, Ilya (13 August 1998). National Identity and Foreign Policy: Nationalism and Leadership in Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Cambridge University Press. p. 155. ISBN 9780521576970. Although nominally a national church, the Russian Orthodox Church developed from a defensive, nativist institution to the ideological foundation of an imperial idea. 
  25. ^ Morton, Andrew R. (1994). God's Will in a Time of Crisis: A Colloquium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Baillie Commission. Edinburgh: CTPI. p. 14. ISBN 9781870126274. In October 1929, the Established Church and the United Free Church were united to form the national Church of Scotland. 
  26. ^ Tomasevich, Jozo (1 January 1975). The Chetniks. Stanford University Press. p. 176. ISBN 9780804708579. He also had the support of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which as a national church long identified with the national destiny and aspirations of the Serbian people was naturally inclined to identify itself with the movement that had the backing of the king and the Servian-dominated government-in-exile. 
  27. ^ Gilley, Sheridan; Stanley, Brian (2006). The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 8, World Christianities C.1815-c.1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 354. ISBN 9780521814560. The Church of Sweden could be characterised as 'national church' or 'folk church', but not as 'state church', because the independence of the church was expressed by the establishment of a Church Assembly in 1863. 
  28. ^ West, Barbara A. (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 845. ISBN 9781438119137. A second important cultural feature of the Tuvaluan nation is the centrality of the national church, the Ekalesia o Tuvalu, or Church of Tuvalu, in which up to 97 percent of the population claims membership. 
  29. ^ Velychenko, Stephen (1 January 1992). National History as Cultural Process: A Survey of the Interpretations of Ukraine's Past in Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian Historical Writing from the Earliest Times to 1914. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780920862759. For this reason the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was the true democratic national church of the Ukrainian nation. 
  30. ^ Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. William Blackwood & Sons. 1895. p. 142. The Church in Wales [is] ... the National Church in every sense of the word, not only theoretically but practically. 
  31. ^ Barth, Ethnics, ed. Braun, transl. Bromiley, New York, 1981, p. 305.
  • William Reed Huntington, A national church, Bedell lectures, Scribner's, 1897.