Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I was thinking more about religions as organisations that receive funding and pay people. The organsiations of "churches" etc per se.

I can relate to that thought, but not with respect to Islam, since I really don't know anything about its organizational structure.

Looking at churches as organizations that receive funding and pay people provides part of the explanation for why Christian fundamentalism flourishes in the United States but not countries like Germany. (The other part is that the Scottish Enlightenment claimed that nothing sensible can be said about religious questions, while the German Enlightenment accepted that religion can be rational.) In Germany, theologians are university professors. That has two implications. 1) German theologians are civil servants, so they have lifetime employment. That means that they have the luxury of intellectual honesty, and giving a problem the time it needs to be resolved properly. 2) German theologians are going to worry about what their colleagues think about their work, and that means that they will want to be taken seriously by philosophers, historians, and scientists.

The people who set the agenda for religion in America face different conditions in both respects. They do not have lifetime employments, so that they must tailor their message to the market, to get as high a demand as possible. In other words, they must preach to the lowest common denominator: in America, religion is a market, like anything else. And since anyone can be a preacher in America—all you need to do is to get a following sufficient enough to pay your bills—the people who create theology in America do not need to be concerned about whether educated people will take them seriously.

So your question about where the money comes from sheds light on why fundamentalism flourishes in America but not in (continental) Europe. But I don't know if it helps us to understand the difference between Christianity and Islam.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Sat Mar 31st, 2007 at 05:47:34 AM EST
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