ATHENS – He hasn’t pushed it yet but Greeks are opposed any idea Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has of separating Church and State.
According to the ProRata survey for the Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, 46 percent want the government to stay tied to the Greek Orthodox Church and 38 percent want to keep the existing status where they are aligned unofficially.
And 42 percent said that the state should take care of priests’ salaries and pensions, but 40 percent said otherwise, the poll showed.
The survey found as well that most people who responded want private universities established in accordance with European Union law that Greece ignores in favor of state universities with entrance standards so low that failing students can get in.
Greeks also want civil servants who fail evaluations to be fired while Tsipras and SYRIZA don’t want anyone fired for almost any reason and even want to hire those who forged their credentials and degrees.
People also want lower tax rates on businesses but Tsipras has launched an avalanche of tax hikes, breaking yet another campaign promise.
Tsipras would have an uphill struggle against Church of Greek leader Archbishop Ieronymos who claimed a scalp when the Premier bounced former Education Minister Nikos Filis who had a run-in with the Church leader over religion classes.
Filis was not brought back in a Cabinet shakeup after he pushed for religion to be taught in a secular fashion and for religions other than Greek Orthodoxy to be taught and for pushing a break with the Church.
Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras came to power saying he wanted to exclude the Church from state affairs but hasn’t pushed it yet.
Describing the Church of Greece as a timeless “mother of our people,” Ieronymos said that if the state wants to proceed with the separation, and has the consent of the people, it can do so, as long it “unswervingly” upholds its obligations to the Church and the relevant conventions, Kathimerini reported.
“The state neither wants to nor can really separate from the Church,” he said, implying that society would never allow it. Tsipras is said to be an Atheist and his party is riddled with anti-religious elements.
“The Church, in my opinion, must never ask for a separation from its people,” he said, deriding the effort as ideologically driven.
“The relationship between Church and state is not and can never be a personal or an ideological working hypothesis, as it is an issue of the people,” he added.