Religious Statues in Spain Frequently Get Government Medals; a Secularist Wants To Put a Stop To That October 10, 2014

Religious Statues in Spain Frequently Get Government Medals; a Secularist Wants To Put a Stop To That

From the You Can’t Make This Shit Up department, via the Wall Street Journal:

The latest winner of Spain’s Gold Medal of Police Merit never walked a beat or made an arrest. True, she never flinched in the face of danger. But that is because she can’t move. Reaching far outside its uniformed ranks, the Interior Ministry awarded this year’s medal to a life-size statue, Our Most Holy Mary of Love, “for sharing police values such as dedication, caring, solidarity and sacrifice.”

Officials say such awards simply recognize long-standing ties between Spain’s police forces and Catholic lay communities… “This has been happening for decades,” said José Manuel Pérez, deputy director general of the national police technical cabinet, who oversees the nominations and displays a poster of Mary in his uniform locker.

Ah, the “we’ve always done it this way” spiel. The argumentum ad antiquitatem is an old favorite among believers, but it’s a fallacy nonetheless.

It’s true, certainly, that Spain has a tradition involving this kind of thing:

The award has precedents in municipalities across Spain. The Virgin de la Almudena, Madrid’s patroness, has held the city’s Gold Medal, a civil award granted in recognition to institutions or people who have distinguished themselves within the region, since 1945 and was awarded its Medal of Honor in 1961.

The Franco days are long gone, however, and good riddance. Spain is a secular democracy now, and plenty of its citizens are rolling their eyes at the bestowing of official medals on religious icons.

The leader of the Movement Towards a Secular State, Jorge García González, has even filed a lawsuit against the Spanish government, to counter what he says is “an ingrained Catholic influence in public affairs.” A court is expected to rule on the matter within weeks.

Meanwhile, a Spanish online petition has already garnered more than 1,500 signatures. Its goal? To nominate Spider-Man for next year’s Gold Medal of Police Merit.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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