One of the most frequently brought up arguments by people who oppose hosting refugees – and in Romania, this sort of an attitude seems to predominate – is that these people, Muslims and Middle-Easterners, are unable to pay respect to our European values. But it is a principle that only needs to be respected by others and is optional in our case – which is one more proof of our hypocrisy.
It is the case of Romanians established in Norway, who were confronted with the values of their new country in a dramatic way.
In Norway, children’s rights and their protection against domestic violence are non-negotiable. And yet, Romanians find it hard to accept that beating is not a suitable manner of education for new Europe. It is outright surprising how an entire country got hysterical concerning certain abuses by the Norwegian state. To seek popularity, politicians got involved, too, and a Parliament delegation will take advantage of the scandal to make an enviable trip to the country of fjords.
Street protests, alarmist press articles, unleashed comments on blogs – it seems a genuine cultural war between an abusive state – Norway and some poor mistreated family people from the East of the continent. And it was not just the Penticostal Church, whom the family whose children were taken into custody based on allegations of physical abuse, that intervened, but so did the Orthodox Church, declaring their worry for such attack on the holy principle of the family.
In other words, church populism doubled political one. The first argument presented by the supporters of the respective family was a religious one: the Norwegian state, highly secularized, split that family as it did not wish citizens who were overtly religious. It is a ridiculous argument, worthy of a conspiracy theory, yet, it gained popularity in many religious environments. Even among Orthodoxes – implacable enemies of Penticostals, nonetheless.
Finally, many people who assume more or less vehemently a religious identity are suspicious about the lay values of democratic states. They feel like warriors in an undeclared war, considering that states intend to restrict as much as possible their freedom to live accordingly to their religious precepts.
The truth is that society is divided in several categories, from people who want to hear nothing about religious values to people who want to hear nothing about lay values, and there are countless intermediary values among these groups. The problem is that certain religious groups become, in given contexts, more sect-like, which means more antagonistic and refractory to the general values of society. Let us examine just this case.
Why do various Churches defend with such passion the right of parents to beat their children? First of all, because they do not want anyone from outside to lecture them on their behaviour. Yet, it is just a case of tremendous hypocrisy, because inside the group – of Penticostals, but of Orthodoxes as well – the moral pressure on others is very strong. Such religious autarchy also converges with an actual tendency towards anarchy, towards refusing the rules imposed by various authorities.
Afterwards, the practice of physical punishment itself is defended, as religious ethics is built differently than lay one. Usually, Christian theologies of various confessions are based on the image of a highly authoritarian God and the evolution of history is filled with „blows” on people, whom God usually punishes through other people. In other words, beating has its own role and it should not be prohibited as an absolute evil. And yet, in certain countries, such as Norway, mentalities have radically changed and the majority of the population supports a perspective that opposes the culture of domestic or pedagogic violence.
If they left Romania for a much more prosperous country, shouldn’t Romanians respect its values? Moreover, we could complain about the fact that, in our country, the conduct is still tremendously violent. And we are not talking about criminality, but about the usual everyday relations. We are amazed about the Western politeness and we often hypocritically criticise it as boring and superficial, but, at the same time, we arrogantly promote proverbs such as “I would not beat you if I had not love you.”
Actually, what frequently defines societies such as Romanian one are hatred and despise, lack of interest for others and abuse of weak ones. Why did not this case launch a contrary campaign, one against the abuse of parents on their children? One against domestic violence and toxic patriarchal pedagogy?
Unfortunately, it was precisely the majority-holding Church that, instead of presenting a Christian perspective that would disapprove any kind of violence as much as possible and defend the frequently vulnerable condition of children, preferred to invoke the priority right to intervene in the family.
Actually, its stake is, as almost always, to defend conservative mindsets, in the name of “traditional” values it usually refuses to review. As the state is unable to pressure it efficiently. As, obviously, Romania is not Norway