Christian republic Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_republic

A Christian republic is a government that is both Christian and republican. As of the 21st century, the only countries in the world with a republican form of government and with Christianity as the established religion are Argentina,[a] Costa Rica,[b] Finland,[c] Greece,[d] Armenia,[e] Samoa,[f] Iceland,[g] and Malta.[h] Some other republics, such as Georgia,[i] Peru,[j] Guatemala,[k] Panama,[l] El Salvador,[m] and Paraguay,[n] give some credit or preference to Christianity, but without establishing it as the religion of the state. Others, such as Hungary,[o] and Zambia,[p] describe themselves as Christian countries.


In A Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke wrote that "there is absolutely no such thing, under the Gospel, as a Christian Commonwealth". By this he meant that political authority cannot be validly founded upon Christianity. Rousseau, in On the Social Contract (in book 4, chapter 8), echoed this, saying that "I am mistaken in saying 'a Christian republic'; the two words are mutually exclusive.". However, Rousseau's point was subtly different, in that he was asserting that a civic identity cannot be moulded out of Christianity.[1][2] David Walsh, founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, acknowledges that there is a "genuine tension ... between Christianity and the political order" that Rousseau was acknowledging, arguing that "many Christians would, after all, agree with him that a 'Christian republic' is a contradiction in terms" and that the two live "in an uneasy relationship in actual states, and social cohesion has often been bought at the price of Christian universalism".[3] Robert Neelly Bellah has observed that most of the great republican theorists of the Western world have shared Rousseau's concerns about the mutually exclusive nature of republicanism and Christianity, from Machiavelli (more on which later) to Alexis de Tocqueville.[4]

Rousseau's thesis is that the two are incompatible because they make different demands upon the virtuous man. Christianity, according to Rousseau, demands submission (variously termed "servitude" or "slavery" by scholars of his work) to imposed authority and resignation, and requires focus upon the unworldly; whereas republicanism demands participation rather than submission, and requires focus upon the worldly. Rousseau's position on Christianity is not universally held. Indeed, it was refuted by, amongst others, his friend Antoine-Jacques Roustan in a reply to the Social Contract.[2][4][5][6]

Rousseau's thesis has a basis in the prior writings of Niccolò Machiavelli,[4][7][8][9] whom Rousseau called a "bon citoyen et honnête homme" and who alongside Montesquieu was one of Rousseau's sources for republican philosophy.[10] In his Discoursi Machiavelli observes that Christianity in practice has not met the ideals of its foundation, and that the resultant corruption leads, when mixed with secular political ideals, to something that is neither good religion nor good politics.[9][11][10] Further, he argues, whilst Christianity does not preclude love for one's country, it does require citizens to endure damage to republican government, stating that the best civic virtue in regards to a republic is to show no mercy to the republic's enemies and to put to death or to enslave the inhabitants of an opposing city that has been defeated.[11]

Calvinist republics[edit]

Calvin's Geneva[edit]

  Cities in the Habsburg Netherlands where Calvinists seized control in 1577–8. Run by Committees of XVIII, the most prominent of these – Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels – are known as 'Calvinist republics' (1577–1585).

While the classical writers had been the primary ideological source for the republics of Italy, in Northern Europe, the Protestant Reformation would be used as justification for establishing new republics.[12] Most important was Calvinist theology, which developed in Geneva (a city-state associated with the Old Swiss Confederacy – a powerful republic – since 1526 due to its anti-Savoy alliance treaty with Bern and Fribourg). John Calvin did not call for the abolition of monarchy, but he advanced the doctrine that the faithful had the right to overthrow irreligious monarchs.[13] During 1536–8 and 1541–64, Calvin and his allies turned Geneva into the first so-called Calvinist republic. Calvinism also espoused egalitarianism and an opposition to hierarchy.[dubious ] Advocacy for republics appeared in the writings of the Huguenots during the French Wars of Religion.[14]


Calvinism played an important role in the republican revolts in England and the Netherlands. Like the city-states of Italy and the Hanseatic League, both were important trading centres, with a large merchant class prospering from the trade with the New World. Large parts of the population of both areas also embraced Calvinism. During the Dutch Revolt (beginning in 1566), the Dutch Republic emerged from rejection of Spanish Habsburg rule. However, the country did not adopt the republican form of government immediately: in the formal declaration of independence (Act of Abjuration, 1581), the throne of king Philip, was only declared vacant, and the Dutch magistrates asked the Duke of Anjou, queen Elizabeth of England and prince William of Orange, one after another, to replace Philip. It took until 1588 before the Estates (the Staten, the representative assembly at the time) decided to vest the sovereignty of the country in itself. The Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church never became the official state church of the Dutch Republic, but it was publicly privileged over all other religions and churches, which did enjoy some level of tolerance, however.

Earlier during the Dutch Revolt, many autonomous cities in the Southern Netherlands also came under the control of radical Calvinists, especially in the years 1577–1578, and formed so-called Calvinist republics. Due to its extreme theocratic tendencies, the most notable was the Calvinist Republic of Ghent (1577–1584), but Antwerp and Brussels have also been characterised by historians as Calvinist republics between 1577 and 1585. One by one, these cities were reconquered by the Spanish Army of Flanders commanded by Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. In the north, Amsterdam experienced the Alteratie, a bloodless coup in which Calvinists took control of the city, but mostly in order to end its economic isolation and resume trade; no Calvinist regime was established here.

English Commonwealth[edit]

In 1641 the English Civil War began. Spearheaded by the Puritans and funded by the merchants of London, the revolt was a success, and led to the Commonwealth of England and the execution of King Charles I. In England James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, and John Milton became some of the first writers to argue for rejecting monarchy and embracing a republican form of government. The English Commonwealth was short lived, and the monarchy soon restored. The Dutch Republic continued in name until 1795, but by the mid-18th century the stadtholder had become a de facto monarch. Calvinists were also some of the earliest settlers of the British and Dutch colonies of North America.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Argentina's Constitution of 1853, Reinstated in 1983, with Amendments through 1994" (PDF). constituteproject.org.
  2. ^ "Costa Rica Constitution in English – Constitutional Law – Costa Rica Legal Topics". costaricalaw.com. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  3. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark; Roof, Wade Clark (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. p. 930. ISBN 9781452266565. Finland (5.2 million) constitutes a unique case, as it has two national churches, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church.
  4. ^ "The Constitution of Greece: Section II Relations of Church and State: Article 3". The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head, is inseparably united in doctrine with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and with every other Church of Christ of the same doctrine, observing unwaveringly, as they do, the holy apostolic and syn- odal canons and sacred traditions. It is autocephalous and is administered by the Holy Synod of serving Bishops and the Permanent Holy Synod originating thereof and assembled as specified by the Statutory Charter of the Church in compliance with the provisions of the Patriarchal Tome of June 29, 1850 and the Synodal Act of September 4, 1928.
  5. ^ "Article 18 of the Constitution of Armenia". The Republic of Armenia shall recognise the exclusive mission of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, as a national church, in the spiritual life of the Armenian people, in the development of their national culture and preservation of their national identity.
  6. ^ Wyeth, Grant (16 June 2017). "Samoa Officially Becomes a Christian State". The Diplomat. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Iceland: Article 62". Government of Iceland. The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State.
  8. ^ "Constitution of Malta". Leġiżlazzjoni Malta. L-Uffiċju tal-Avukat tal-Istat (State Attorney's Office, Malta). Retrieved 8 November 2020. - While Article 40 states: "all persons in Malta shall have full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their respective mode of religious worship.", Article 2 states: "(1) The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion. (2) The authorities of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are wrong. (3) Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory education."
  9. ^ "Georgia's Constitution of 1995 with Amendments through 2013" (PDF). Constitution Project. The State shall declare absolute freedom of belief and religion. At the same time, the State shall recognise the outstanding role of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in the history of Georgia and its independence from the State.
  10. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Peru" (PDF). Within an independent and autonomous system, the State recognizes the Catholic Church as an important element in the historical, cultural, and moral formation of Peru and lends it its cooperation. The State respects other denominations and may establish forms of collaboration with them.
  11. ^ "Guatemala's Constitution of 1985 with Amendments through 1993" (PDF). Constitution Project. The juridical personality of the Catholic Church is recognized. The other churches, cults, entities, and associations of religious character will obtain the recognition of their juridical personality in accordance with the rules of their institution[,] and the Government may not deny it[,] aside from reasons of public order. The State will extend to the Catholic Church, without any cost, [the] titles of ownership of the real assets which it holds peacefully for its own purposes, as long as they have formed part of the patrimony of the Catholic Church in the past. The property assigned to third parties or those
  12. ^ "Panama's Constitution of 1972 with Amendments through 2004" (PDF). constituteproject.org. All religions may be professed and all forms of worship practiced freely, without any other limitation than respect for Christian morality and public order. It is recognized that the Catholic religion is practiced by the majority of Panamanians.
  13. ^ "El Salvador's Constitution of 1983 with Amendments through 2014" (PDF). The juridical personality of the Catholic Church is recognized. The other churches may obtain recognition of their personality in conformity with the law.
  14. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Paraguay". The role played by the Catholic Church in the historical and cultural formation of the Republic is hereby recognized.
  15. ^ "Hungary's Constitution of 2011" (PDF). We are proud that our king Saint Stephen built the Hungarian State on solid ground and made our country a part of Christian Europe one thousand years ago.
  16. ^ "Constitution of Zambia" (PDF). DECLARE the Republic a Christian nation while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person's freedom of conscience or religion



  1. ^ Beiner 2010, p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Beiner 2010, p. 13.
  3. ^ Walsh 1997, p. 168.
  4. ^ a b c Cristi 2001, p. 19–20.
  5. ^ Rosenblatt 1997, p. 264.
  6. ^ Bellah 1992, p. 166.
  7. ^ Kries 1997, p. 268.
  8. ^ Viroli & Hanson 2003, p. 175.
  9. ^ a b Beiner 2010, p. 35.
  10. ^ a b Viroli 1990, p. 171–172.
  11. ^ a b Pocock 2003, p. 214.
  12. ^ Finer, Samuel. The History of Government from the Earliest Times. Oxford University Press, 1999. pg. 1020.
  13. ^ "Republicanism." Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment pg. 435
  14. ^ "Introduction." Republicanism: a Shared European Heritage. By Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner. Cambridge University Press, 2002 pg. 1