There’s a separation of church and state in Spain, too. Its Constitution very clearly states, “No religion shall have a state character.” Yet a move by the military has critics saying the nation is violating its own laws.
Spain’s Ministry of Defense has called for all flags at military installations to be flown at half mast in honor of the Easter holiday.
It is the second year running that the defence ministry has issued an order to the effect that “from 14.00 on Holy Thursday until 00.01 on Resurrection Sunday the national flag must be flown at half mast at all military units, bases, centres and barracks, as well as the ministry of defence and its regional departments”.
A defence ministry spokesman said that flying the flag at half mast for religious reasons was “in keeping with tradition” and was “part of the secular tradition of the armed forces”.
Somehow, celebrating Easter is a “secular tradition” even though there’s nothing secular about it.
At least some officials are criticizing the move. National ombudsman Francisco Fernández Marugán, whose job it is to handle citizens’ complaints against the government, says this is a step too far:
The ombudsman said that “even if this tradition has acquired a ‘secular’ connotation over the years there is no doubt that it also has a religious one”, adding that “these practices could lead people to think that the state was more inclined to honour one religion than another” and that a non-confessional state had to demonstrate neutrality in regard to the various religions.
He’s right, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the practice will change this year or in the future.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)