New ministers sworn in

Yesterday, seven ministers of the Spanish government were sworn in. I think we can safely assume that religious authorities (in the religious sense) do not pay much attention to this; after all, no matter what a minister (or even the government in full for that matter) decides, it won’t affect any religious dogma. Religious authority does not accept the slightest interference. Religion is a different world, according to them, and not subject to human law or democracy.

On the other hand, Spain, according to its Constitution, is a non-denominational state. That is, it does not adhere to any specific religion. Officially, at least.

The ministers ceremony is a completely civil event. In addition, it has mainly a symbolic value; the hard legal consequences actually come, I suppose, from documents and the like, signed off the record.

Spanish public television offered a pretty montage yesterday; by composing fragments of different ministers’ swearing, we could see the seven of them, but hear the full text only once. Good idea. Below you can see a summary of the images. Does this ring any bell for you?

Yes. Every one of them took up their post in front of a catholic cross, and presumably with a bible on the table. In fact, the video shooting even shows them behind the cross. The true center of the image is not the minister, but the cross; that’s the reason why the above collage looks like a cemetery. In particular, the woman in white coat even looks like a bishop; at first glance, the cross seems to be a part of her clothing. This woman is Rosa Aguilar, a former member of the Spanish equivalent to the communist party. One can’t but wonder which meaning of the word “ministers” does apply here.

I can find lots of good reasons for strictly and deliberately avoiding any religious symbol, no matter how small or discrete, in a public, civil ceremony. I can’t find a single one for considering that having them in such a prominent place is a good idea.

So this is our flamboyant, non-denominational country. 35 years after the theoretical end of the catholic dictatorship, everything has still to be apparently approved by a nihil obstat. The point is not that some of the ministers might need to believe in some god in order to observe ethics (which, by the way, would be pretty scaring in itself); they could just do that, believe, or internally talk and swear to some superior being, by themselves. The point is the public exhibition of power, the visible presence of the church in that ceremony. Even the highest representatives of popular sovereignty must show symbolic submission to a religious sign, which appears, vigilant, as the guarantor of the correct fulfilment of their duties (or else…!)

Well, if we can’t avoid the presence of symbols which are totally unrelated to the purpose of the ceremony, at least we could have some variation, which would rise interest and maybe even generate income for the public treasury. Something like this:


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