The 2014 referendum in Scotland, which brought victory for the unionists, was characterised by a high level of involvement of religious organisations in the campaign. Although the Churches chose to be neutral on the referendum dilemma, this was explained by prevailing attitudes among clergy, who objected Scottish independence. In this article, analysing the stance of the Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal Church of Scotland, and Free Church of Scotland, I argue that the chosen path of neutrality played more in favour of unionists. The Churches’ influence on the referendum’s outcome was far beyond statistical errors, and had Churches publicly supported independence, it would have been likely that Edinburgh would now be negotiating the terms of “divorce” with London.
This article examines how Christian churches have contributed to the European Union immigration and asylum policy. It briefly discusses the main developments of the EU policy in the area of migration and asylum, and then explains why issues of migration are important to the churches (particularly that these issues are closely connected with the Biblical call to take care of a stranger). The article identifies the main Christian organisations, which work in the area of migration and asylum at the EU level, as well as their areas of specific contribution. It is found out that the strategy, used by Christian organisations, is similar to that of other non-governmental organisations, but it also bears the impact of their specific status and ‘family links’ with churches. Overall, it is sometimes difficult to separate the influence of Christian organisations from the influence of their secular counterparts working in the area of migration and asylum. However, the importance of Christian organisations is particularly noticeable in the area of monitoring and assessment, even to an extent that Christian organisations can be regarded as more important than secular ones.
Based on extensive fieldwork across Belarus, this article analyses an ongoing discussion within the Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC) regarding various issues that are key in assessing the country’s identity politics and politico-ideological developments. Since the independence of Belarus in 1991, the Church has continuously played an important public and societal function. A special agreement, signed between the Church and Belarusian Government in 2003, has fostered Church cooperation with various governmental institutions, including educational establishments. Discussing the contribution of the BOC to the construction of a distinct Belarusian national identity, we will address the national language, relationships with the state, foreign policy orientation and the Church’s autocephaly. The empirical part of this study is based on seventeen in-depth interviews with clergymen and laypeople from the BOC. Our study shows that Church representatives have not hesitated to develop their profound perspectives on the important issues of identity politics and the relationships of the BOC and state, and these perspectives were often reflective of wider debates within Belarusian intellectual circles.