Debate about faith and politics in an historical context

July 07, 2005

The relationship between faith and politics was a frequently discussed theme in the nineteenth-century Dutch press. Throughout Europe Catholic publicists conducted polemics about political modernity and the public role of religion, with each other and dissidents.

Dutch language specialist and historian Henk van den Berg has shown in his Ph.D. thesis how the ideological controversy between faith and politics in the Netherlands became visible, for example in the relationship between the Catholic newspaper De Tijd and the liberal Algemeen Handelsblad.

The political support from Dutch Catholics for liberalism in the mid-nineteenth century, started to diminish in the second half of the 1860s. Almost a century later the catholic historian Rogier pointed out that this support had been based on more than pragmatism alone. Since then the precise character of the disunity that arose among the Catholics has remained unclear.

In his thesis Henk van den Berg systematically relates the question about the amount of liberalism in the socio-political views of Catholic publicists with the question as to how they justified this from the viewpoint of the Catholic faith. The researcher discusses many socio-political publications from Catholic laity and clergy who represented the views held by their fellow Catholics and who tried to exert an influence on these. He shows how these publicists responded to church pronouncements and how they drew inspiration from the press in neighbouring countries.

The socio-political views of Catholic liberals were not welcomed by many Catholics who adopted a critical stance towards liberalism. Yet barely six months after the death of the Liberal statesman Thorbecke, a Jesuit defended the proposition in De Tijd that Thorbecke's political legacy could best be managed by confessional politicians. The opponents in the ideological conflict eventually showed a comparable desire to put freedom in the service of a communal ideal.

Van den Berg's research is the first study to thoroughly consider the contribution of Catholic liberals in the public debate. The study therefore sheds new light on the ideological positioning of Catholics in relation to the constitution of 1848, education and the Dutch nation. It reveals how the attention of Catholics and liberals in the forming of public opinion shifted from the relationship between church and state to the relationship between faith and politics.
-end-
Henk van den Berg's research was partly funded by NWO.

For further information please contact:

Dr Henk van den Berg (Department of History, Radboud University Nijmegen)
t: 31-402-851-829
hamvandenberg@wanadoo.nl
The doctoral thesis was defended on 30 June 2005
Supervisor Prof. R.A.M. Aerts
Book data: Henk van den Berg, In vrijheid gebonden. Negentiende-eeuwse katholieke publicisten in Nederland over geloof, politiek en moderniteit [Tied in freedom. Nineteenth-century Dutch Catholic publicists' views on faith, politics and modernity] (in Dutch; synopsis in French and German), Valkhof Pers Nijmegen, ISBN: 90 5625 196 1, € 35.00.

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Politics Articles from Brightsurf:

Fashion's underappreciated role in presidential politics
New research reveals style plays an underappreciated role in presidential politics and has meaningful consequences for presidential power.

'Lazy use' of term populist has helped to legitimize far-right politics
New analysis from academics at the University of Bath into the media's use of the term 'populism' highlights how its overuse has clouded important debates about nationalism, racism, and xenophobia.

Justice for all: How race and American identity may affect politics
New Penn State research examined whether feeling like you belong in America -- or not -- affected how members of different races and ethnicities participated in politics.

Women quotas in politics have unintended consequences
Women continue to be scarce in the halls of power.

The use of jargon kills people's interest in science, politics
When scientists and others use their specialized jargon terms while communicating with the general public, the effects are much worse than just making what they're saying hard to understand.

Stressed out: Americans making themselves sick over politics
Nearly 40% of Americans surveyed for a new study said politics is stressing them out, and 4% -- the equivalent of 10 million US adults -- reported suicidal thoughts related to politics.

Study: Children are interested in politics but need better education from parents and schools
The 2020 election is approaching -- how should we talk with children about this election and about politics more broadly?

Forget 'Obamageddon', 'prepping' is now part of mainstream US politics and culture
Criminologist Dr. Michael Mills challenges the traditional view that US 'preppers' are motivated by extreme right-wing or apocalyptic views.

Study examines how picture books introduce kids to politics
Meagan Patterson of the University of Kansas has authored a study in which she analyzed political messages in some of the most popular picture books of the last several years to see how political topics are introduced to children.

US abortion politics: How did we get here and where are we headed?
After Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement accelerated rapidly, describes Munson in a new paper, 'Protest and Religion: The US Pro-Life Movement,' published last week in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics.

Read More: Politics News and Politics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.