|Alexis Tsipras. By FrangiscoDer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
He said: “Our country has structures. We have to look at it from the religious point of view, the political point of view, the social point of view. The ministry of justice will not, under the pressure of anyone, examine such an issue without calmness and composure."
This was after his Prime Minister had originally announced they would redress LGBT inequality but then caved to fundamentalist clerical pressure.
Following the judgment, the prime minister Antonis Samaras’s conservative-dominated coalition signalled that it would redress the wrong but got cold feet when rightwingers and clerics reacted in fury. Greece and Lithuania stand alone in refusing to grant such rights.
Well, Antonis Samaras and his party got thrown out in the last Greek election. His conservative party has been replaced with SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left). When's the last time you heard a party that calls itself radical left win an election in Europe?
"As scores of news photographers clicked away, Alexis Tsipras took his oath of office today in Athens. He said he promised to uphold the Constitution and look out for the welfare of Greeks. Tsipras is an atheist, so he refused a religious oath — the custom in this Greek Orthodox country. He's the first prime minister to do so. He's only 40, so he's also the youngest leader in Greece since 1865.So, this is about the strongest message he could have sent to conservative religious clerics in Greece. Further reports indicate that he is also not adverse to working with religious groups -- he hasn't an axe to grind -- but it seems clear, for now at least, that he isn't one to be pushed around by the church.
GREECE'S new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, made history within hours of his victory by informing the Archbishop of Athens, very politely, that clerical services would not be required for his swearing-in ceremony. An avowed atheist who has nonetheless made a point of dealing courteously with senior clergy, Mr Tsipras lost no time in making known that his oath of office would be a secular procedure. It was also explained that when the whole cabinet was sworn in, a more junior cleric (but not the archbishop) would be invited to assist those who wished to take a religious oath.Tsipras is a committed secularist who seems willing to work with everyone in the country to bring about true and real state-church separation -- or so I've read. This is great news and we can only hope that, without religious excuses against it, LGBT equality -- including same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption -- will be not far behind for Greece.
It's hard to overstate what a rupture this marks with the ceremonial culture of Greece. For as long as anybody can remember, every senior office-holder, from socialists to right-wing dictators, has assumed the post with a ritual involving Bibles, crosses and often holy water, sprinkled about with a sprig of basil. The opening words of the Greek constitution recall the theological formulas of the early church which predate by the Hellenic state by more than 1,300 years: "In the name of the holy, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity......"
Still waiting for an atheist to be Prime Minister of Canada.