Insights from the dashboard: Religion and state in Europe

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Insights from the dashboard: Religion and state in Europe

How can the EARS dashboard help us to track the patterns and differences in religion and state relationships across Europe?

The relationship between religion and state in Europe has been an issue of great historical importance in the political development of the continent. But is it still important in 2023?

By using the EARS dashboard, we can explore in detail how the relationship between European states and religious institutions has developed in recent years. With these tools, we can gain a better sense of the differences and patterns across the continent.

The state and religion in Europe

Over the last year (since February 2022), the tag state has been referenced in 424 article summaries published on the EARS dashboard. By using our ‘countries’ tab, we can see that this tag has been applied to articles relating to almost every country in Europe.

Furthermore, by using the ‘timeline’ tab, we can see that state appears in around 20 to 30% of our summaries every month. These two charts help us to understand that the relationship between religious issues and the state continues to have great relevance to Europe in 2023, despite the growing secularisation on the continent. [1]

Religious and political institutions in Europe

In order to gain a more specific insight into this relationship, the dashboard provides us with a number of tools to narrow down our searches. Using the ‘topic Venn’, we can see that more than half of the articles (261) which include the state tag, also include the religious institutions tag. This illustrates that the relationship between the state and leading institutions of faith is a central feature of state-religion affairs in 2023.

But which institutions appear most often? And why? To analyse this, we can further narrow down our search. First of all, we must select both topics and ensure the & button is activated, leaving us with our 261 articles.

By looking at the ‘word cloud’ tab, we see some of the most common words that appear in our results.

Evidently, terms relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such as Russia, war, Vladimir Putin, and Patriarch Kirill have appeared regularly in the last year. However, aside from these, we can also see that both Montenegro and the Serbian Church are clearly present in our results. Throughout 2022, tension over the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church and political affairs, in particular in Montenegro and Kosovo, was an important issue in Balkan politics. This can be further indicated by selecting Serbian Orthodox Church from our list of ‘entities’, leading us to 30 summaries.

These summaries include translated reviews of articles from media sources in various Balkan nations, including Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia, and North Macedonia, allowing us to gain a truly regional perspective on the question. Furthermore, we can get an indication of the time of the year in which these articles were common by using our ‘timeline’ feature, which demonstrates how throughout the summer, questions about the Serbian Orthodox Church were more common.

The Catholic Church and European states

Finally, as well as focusing on a smaller set of regional cases, we can also use the tools to explore the development of wider patterns in relations between European states and a larger institution, such as the Vatican. As evident below, by adding the Holy See (The Vatican) to the ‘countries’ filter, we receive 50 results.

When we look through our list of summaries, they cover a large range of subjects relating to the relationship between the Vatican and European states, originating from media in various nations.

A large number of these summaries, 22 of the 50, relate to Russia, with a variety of articles covering how Pope Francis has condemned the illegal invasion of Ukraine throughout 2022 and into 2023. However, there are also other topics covered such as a Spanish article on the clash between Pope Francis’s values and the new Italian government of far-right Giorgia Meloni.[2] The search also returns summaries of both Dutch and Austrian media coverage of the Vatican’s response to the US Supreme Court ruling on abortion in June 2022.[3] [4]

A Europe-wide perspective

This article has demonstrated how the EARS dashboard can be utilised to find information about patterns and themes from across the continent. Whilst national media often tends to focus on individual nations and the affairs going on within them, by using the dashboard’s tools, it is possible to get a truly continent-wide perspective on the development of religion in Europe.

This article is a part of a series published by EARS analysts, demonstrating how to use the dashboard to track patterns and developments in religion across Europe. You can also check out the following articles:

All articles on using the dashboard to analyse current themes can be found here.

Freddie Scott

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[1] Europe is getting more secular – with some striking exceptions – Catholic Herald

[2] El ascenso de Meloni en Italia: la ultraderecha que no quiere al Papa

[3] Vaticaan prijst abortusbesluit Hooggerechtshof VS

[4] Vatikan und US-Bischöfe begrüßen Abtreibungsurteil in den USA