Public or political opinion hostile to the influence of the Church in political and social affairs seeks to separate religious authority from civil government and subordinate the Church to state control. Anti-clericalism may take the form of propaganda, confiscation of Church property, trial, imprisonment or execution of the clergy, the banning of religious orders, or the secularization of education and hospitals. It may result in dictatorship and militarism or aggravate a general need for religion and mysticism. In so far as it is an expression of nationalism, it may also cause international conflict.
Anti-clericals became numerous and influential in France by 1650. The movement grew in Austria-Hungary and Germany after 1800, and gradually took root throughout Europe as well as in Central and South America. Protestantism was rarely a major target for anti-clericalism until after the rise of Communist, Fascist and National Socialist governments.
Current anti-clericalism is fostered in response to the presence of Christian Democrat parties in many parliaments, notably throughout Europe and in Latin America. It is also part of the ideology of communism. Elsewhere it may be expressed in counter-religious thought, atheism, or scientism.
Churches need their critical centre. They cannot be left to the ruling minority and their quiet followers, or to the mockery of people outside. The common sense, ordinary believer must occupy the centre of the stage. It is not simply a question of democracy, natural justice or majority rule -- it is a question of restoring the capacity of the church to save the world. This can only be done by getting together and being one.