In die Skriflig
On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441
MULLER, D. Francois. Government's attitude towards religion: The suitability of the active-plural option for the implementation of article 36 of the Belgic Confession. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2012, vol.46, n.1, pp.1-11. ISSN 2305-0853.
'What attitude should a government have towards religion?' was not only a question that governments had struggled with for ages, but one currently growing in significance. J.M. Vorster identified five options that different governments had chosen and he selected the so-called 'active-plural option' as his preference. This option allowed governments to make provision for all religions or traditions, without the promotion of any specific one. Article 36 of the Belgic Confession (1561) represents a foremost statement of what the Reformed tradition believed governments were being called to. This study therefore investigated the suitability of the 'active-neutral option' for the implementation of article 36. This was done while exploring the specific circumstances within and goal with which the confession was formulated; the most important changes to the text of article 36 (1905, 1982) as well as its corrected meaning. Whereas there was a time when governments were seemed to have the task to, amongst others, destroy all idolatry and false worship, it was stated in 1982 that governments (only) had to protect the proclamation of the Gospel and in so doing achieved this destruction. All governments received their authority from God and were to be his faithful servants - without becoming servants of any church and/or tradition.