Desecularization of Public Space in Costa Rica

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jerry ESPINOZA RIVERA, University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica
Modernization and secularization of society has never been completely achieved in Latin America, a traditionally conservative region.

Costa Rica, in spite of its institutional stability, has not been an exception. At the moment this Central American country is the only one in the region that oficially declares that Roman Catholicism is the religion of the state (article 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Costa Rica). Notwithstanding that many politicians have recognized the necessity of reformimg this article, all the attempts to establish a secular state have failed. Even more concerning is the fact that the political interference of religious conservatism in public policies have increased during the last decades.

This paper analyzes the religious appropiation of public space in Costa Rica since 2000, especially of policies related with reproductive rights. Since that year, Costa Rica is the only country in the world that prohibits IVF. It relates this phenomenom with the lack of a clearly defined border between religious and public space in Costa Rica since the Colonial period and the strong influence that historically has been exerted by Catholicism on public education.