religion in DR politics

Tordok

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Oct 6, 2003
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This topic may have been digested by DR1 oldtimers in past threads, - i apologize if that's the case - but please allow me to raise some questions concerning something that I admit to be very naive about.

Traditionally the DR had been almost exclusively Roman Catholic for most of its colonial and republican life. Even immigrants from Arab lands were often already Christians or quickly converted upon becoming Dominicanized, as there are few Muslims in the country to this day. New U.S.A.-South-style evangelical movements are growing with certain momentum. The Cardinal has an opinion about everything! ....

Any of the more avid political observers out there care to comment on their views of the role of religion on Dominican public policy?

I must admit that that's one aspect of the Dominican national psyche that I have not fully explored. Just at a glance, it is clear that the Catholic leadership gets plenty of media coverage, but it is not very clear to me that this translates into popular support or government acquiescense.

Are social hierarchies related to church denomination?
What role do the non-Roman Christian Churches play? Is either group more conservative or more liberal in their social doctrines?
Is the country truly open to all religious creeds? Are any major political parties (Reformista Social Cristiano comes to mind) have actual direct relations with church figures?
Could an atheist candidate legally get elected to office?


I suspect that secular traditions are stronger in this day and age than religious activities, but I do have curiosity to hear how others in DR1 see it.

Please do not hijack this into scripture-quoting or theological divagations. Provocative thoughts are welcome, personal attacks are most unwelcome.

The focus is about the "on-the-street" social experience regarding religious identity in the Dominican Republic today.

thanks,

- Tordok
 

Jon S.

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Jan 25, 2003
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I'll just say this: it usually isn't even brought up by the general populace as a question, they just assume that whoever is an "elected" official in the DR is Catholic. Things have definitely changed in the past 2 or 3 years but I'm sure that the religion in politics hasn't been much of an issue. Matter of fact, for any and every big opening ceremony that the Government has down there, there is the Cardinal or some sort of religious figure giving a blessing to the new place, and hoping that they get a "hook-up" or freebie in the future from the business. You know how it is down there. You can tell if the Cardinal is there if you see a blue Range Rover around the premises...... ;)
 

NALs

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Jan 20, 2003
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Personally, I don't like this religion deal in politics.

The Cardinal should "fly" (joke) back to the Catedral Santa Maria La Menor and do its spiritual duties there and stay out of politics.

If the guy wants to bless a few inagurational structures, fine, but his opinion on political things should remain either personal or less influential.

However, the acceptance of the Cardinal and other religious figures in the DR is also a manifestation of the country colonial heritage, but also a form of "Domincanidad" to distiguish ourselves from the Haitians.

When the Haitians invaded and occupied us for 22 years, the Catholic church (being a European Religion) was virtually destroyed by the Haitians. The church lost its lands, power, everything and it was illegal to pray or worship a European God, Saint, whatever. As a result, the Roman Catholic Church was one of the biggest opponents of the Haitian occupation and I believe they even had an influence in the liberation trio of Mella, Sanchez, and Duarte, given that they formed a group called "Los Trinitarios" as in "The Trinitarians" similar to the Catholic church's Trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, etc.

So, I don't really think the Catholic Church is going to be out of politics any time soon in this country since it is a "Dominican" thing. Anyways, if the Cardinal gets on the nerve of more politicians (though his critics towards Hippo were well deserved and intetioned), I don't think the Cardinals will last long in politics once that happens.

I have always said that Religious figures should worry more about making sure the population goes to heaven rather than earthly matters. But, that is just my opinion.
 

deelt

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Mar 23, 2004
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Hi T,

Some of my friends are much better versed/learned on this issue than I, but I'll provide my opinion, as a non-Catholic, just the same.

Tordok said:
Any of the more avid political observers out there care to comment on their views of the role of religion on Dominican public policy?

I think the two are inextricably linked. The church serves as the oldest and most respected viable third sector for community action. For example, it was one of the key mediums used by the Mirabal sisters to empower and foment change in DR. It is also a place that has served to placate and forgive the greatest vagamunderia in the country, for example, promiscuity and marital unfaithfulness, much of the downfall in the country lacking strong traditional nuclear families (which in my opinion is also the root of most of its social problems).

I must admit that that's one aspect of the Dominican national psyche that I have not fully explored. Just at a glance, it is clear that the Catholic leadership gets plenty of media coverage, but it is not very clear to me that this translates into popular support or government acquiescense.

I think much of what occurs happends in the background. The church is very involved but more so behind the scenes. Few church members publicly chastize the administration as was done to Hipolito in Gurabo. However, to do this you must have an impeccable reputation (a rare thing), as was found in this case.

Also the church in DR is comfortable with dealing with gray areas of belief systems. While the church may openly deny this, that fact that santeria is secretly practiced throughout the island is something they continue quietly allow.

Are social hierarchies related to church denomination?


I do not think so since the sample of Protestant/Baptist/Evangelical/ etc.
is so small of a sample. I many non Catholic but Christian churches taken on a reputation of their own...it's only natural. Some of these churches tend to be wealthier than others.

What role do the non-Roman Christian Churches play? Is either group more conservative or more liberal in their social doctrines?

These churches do tend to be more conservative from my experience. I think their extremism is a direct response to the libertine behaviors that are prevalent in the country. While I can appreciate the idea it is difficult in practice given the difficulty of living under third world standards. However, I respect where they are coming from given what the people see in terms of promiscuity, plain loose morals and corruptive practices often seen in the country at all levels on a daily basis.

Is the country truly open to all religious creeds? Are any major political parties (Reformista Social Cristiano comes to mind) have actual direct relations with church figures?

Since the country is mainly catholic then tend to be more tolerant of other religious creeds, but not accepting. If you are truly political you cannot afford NOT to have a link to the church, for it is too a political institution. The fall out of the last elections is evidence of this.

Could an atheist candidate legally get elected to office?

No.

Best,
D
 

Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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Two points I'd like to take issue with, bearing in mind that religion has been declared a taboo subject on DR1.

The direct criticism of Hippo by leading Catholic Church figures was not unprecedented. From what I have read, once the Church turned against Trujillo his days were truly numbered.

On the question of an atheist not being able to be legally elected, is there anything in the law that states this? I know that in practice someone who is openly atheist would have a tough job getting popular support, but is there really a legal bar? :speechles

Late PLD founder and former President Juan Bosch was almost certainly an atheist, and he is held in high esteem by large part of the Dominican public. He was elected to office just once, but many believe that in subsequent elections he would have won had it not been for widespread electoral fraud on the part of Balaguer (who was as pious as they come).
 

Criss Colon

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Jan 2, 2002
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First od All,It's Not A Range Rover,But A Mitsubishi Montero!

It IS However,"BLUE"!
The Cardinal is arguably the most powerful figures in the DR!
He is a leader,not only of the "Church",but "politically" as well."Presidents",come and go,"The Cardinal" stays! "Hipolito" was very disrespectful of the Cardinal,but then he is a moron,disrespectful
of everyone!
My "Ex-Boss",once told me that he never got involved in a "Project" unless the Cardinal was involved.That way he could be sure that the project would be completed!!
I believe that the Cardinal has the good of the Dominican People at heart!
CCCCCCCCCCCCCc
 

Tordok

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Oct 6, 2003
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I apologize to the owner and moderators for bringing up a "taboo" issue. Thanks Chiri for pointing this out. Please close this if not appropriate. In the meantime...
Thanks to everyone for their comments.

- Tordok
 

Hillbilly

Moderator
Jan 1, 2002
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I think that there may well be Constitutional issues here

However, the role of church institution in Dominican politics is limited.

However, the role of two or three figures such as Bishop Mamerto Rivas, a Salesian father elevated-almost against his wishes but with Baalaguer's blessings- to the bishopric of Barahona. There he denaounced, quit daringly, the abuses that the Army and other military units were committing against Haitians. He also called them out on contraband issues..

Then you have Agrimpino N??ez Collado, a very close confident of the Cardinal's but also well respected for his ability to sit different people down and get them to talk things out. I do think he is fully capapble of getting the population riled up enough to start pointing the fingers-"droping the proverbial "dime"- on many of these people that are really nasty. We'll see if this happens.

And the exaulted Cardinal. He is very well connected to John Paul VI, and must, therefore, be very conservative. When he speaks, he knows a lot of people are listening. Remember, he was the chaplin of the ARmed Forces for years....

As for the many Christian sects that operate here: There is no doubt in my mind that one of their maid attractions is their conservatism. As yest, however, they have very little voice in forming public opinion or policies.

As far as an athiest becoming a major office holder, it would be possible until he opened his mouth. I think the Constitution almost prohibits this. After all: "DIOS, PATRIA Y LIBERTAD" is consecrated as the country's National Motto.

HB
 

Chirimoya

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Hillbilly said:
As far as an athiest becoming a major office holder, it would be possible until he opened his mouth. I think the Constitution almost prohibits this. After all: "DIOS, PATRIA Y LIBERTAD" is consecrated as the country's National Motto.

Most countries' mottos, anthems and other ceremonial paraphanelia invoke one deity or another in some shape or form. The British national anthem calls on God to 'save' the Queen, and the motto is 'Dieu et mon droit', but there is nothing anywhere that says that an atheist is barred from election as Prime Minister.

What about Juan Bosch? I know his alleged atheism was the subject of discussion, but he still managed to poll a large number of votes.

PS. Tordok, seeing as two moderators are taking part in the discussion, including HB who moderates this very forum, it looks like we are OK, as long as we keep it civil.
 

Pib

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Jan 1, 2002
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I don't think that the constitution (or should that be Constitution?) says anything about barring atheists from office. Actually I think Dominicans would vote (as they did for Juan Bosh) for an atheist as long as he doesn't go on record (which Bosh did and IIRC promptly denied).

Actually, I am looking forward to having a declared atheist in office.

Am I the only one who finds the cardinal kinda... creepy?



P.S.: Nals, I say this as a fellow poster, not as a moderator, but please stop linking everything to Haiti. It sounds like a broken record and if it wasn't because I have to read the posts in this forum I will just ignore you.
 
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Guatiao

El Leon de los Cacicazgos
Mar 27, 2004
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One Saying Says All

Party with the Devil on Saturday, Be With God on Sunday.

That's what I believe is happening in DR politics. Politicians have their fingers crossed behind their backs. Even though the Cardinal and other members of the church speak loudly, corruption is corruption. Dominicans say they fearful of God but yet so many live in sin and I mean real sin not 10 commandments sin. Im talking about money and corruption, messing up other peoples lives. How many white elephants are in DR, all built with tax payer money. How many Sankies?

I guess Jay-Z said it best in his song D'evils:
"It gets dangerous, money and power is changing us
And now we're lethal, infected with D'Evils..."

"My soul is possessed by D'Evils in the form of diamonds and lexuses"

"For the love of money, son, I'm giving lead showers
Stop screaming, you know the demon said it's best to die
And even if Jehovah witness, bet he'll never testify, D'Evils..."

Peace,
Capo
 

NALs

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Jan 20, 2003
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Pib said:
I don't think that the constitution (or should that be Constitution?) says anything about barring atheists from office. Actually I think Dominicans would vote (as they did for Juan Bosh) for an atheist as long as he doesn't go on record (which Bosh did and IIRC promptly denied).

Actually, I am looking forward to having a declared atheist in office.

Am I the only one who finds the cardinal kinda... creepy?



P.S.: Nals, I say this as a fellow poster, not as a moderator, but please stop linking everything to Haiti. It sounds like a broken record and if it wasn't because I have to read the posts in this forum I will just ignore you.

Every cause in our modern day Dominican Republic is due to its history (both recent and old) and our history is quite frankly intertwined with that of Haiti.

So, how can I ignore Haiti when speaking of the history of the DR?

I wish I could, trust me.
 

DRsScarface

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Feb 26, 2004
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Can't Ignore Religion

You can't ignore religion in a country called DOMINICAN Republic that was colonized by Spain (one of the most devout Catholic countries in the world, with a history of being religious/Catholic extremists.........think Inquisition.)