Tuesday, August 29, 2006

God and the EU

Colman is spot on about Angela Merkel's suggestion that God should have a place in any new EU constitution. Merkel contests that

"[the constitution] should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way"
As Colman points out, this means
"we should include references to absolute monarchy, discrimination against women and anti-semitism, all of which have also forged Europe in decisive ways."
Why must we always have such second-rate minds in charge of working out where to go with the EU project?

God can only be a unifier when everyone's worshipping the same one. So let's ignore the Reformation and the countless variations of Christianity that arose following Luther's piece of petty vandalism (sparking a good few centuries of violence, bloodshed and persecution). Ignore the lack of doctrinal agreement even within the Roman Catholic Church, let alone the Church of England and all the various Protestant offshoots.

What's more, by codifying a Christian god into an EU-wide constitution, how exactly are community relations with non-Christian groups going to be helped at this time of ever-growing religiously-inspired division, mistrust and violence?

The EU is - in its idealised form - supposed to STRENGTHEN the ties that bind us, to emphasise and build upon the areas of similarity amongst a culturally-diverse continent which has seen more than its fair share of mistrust, division and war over the centuries.

All religion has ever done - and in Europe's history more than that of pretty much anywhere else in the world - is enhanced the "us versus them" idea, heightening perception of differences, and created hostility through the insurmountable believers versus non-believers dichotomy.

We already have enough alienated and annoyed non-believers in the EU - they're called Eurosceptics - let's not add to their number, eh?

9 Comments:

Anonymous Colman said...

How do you think this will play in the UK?

8/29/2006 12:57:00 pm  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Colman, Mr Nosemonkey,

His Grace has (of course), covered this development here.

Cranmer is indebted to both for raising this issue to the fore, because whenever he does so he is accused (namely by Dr Richard North) of obsession with 'plots' and 'fighting yesterday's battles'.

Mr Nosemonkey is quite correct. If 'God' is featured in this 'constitution', the theological and political implications are quite considerable.

8/29/2006 01:03:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

I doubt it'll even get noticed - no one ever pays any attention to anything going on on the continent.

However, generalising massively, some speculation on the off-chance that it does get spotted:

The usual anti-EU types who generally kick up a fuss when the constitution raises its head again will likely get confused by this, as there's usually a fair correlation between being anti-EU and (very) loosely high church Tory. So a lot of the anti-EU types will actually quite like the idea of codifying religion (after all, the CofE's still established, one of the few things they like about the country). But they'll still hate the EU, and not want to say they approve of anything to do with it. So they won't know how to play it, and probably end up ignoring it altogether - or just taking the piss...

The usual pro-EU types, on the other hand, (and again, I can't stress how much this is a generalisation based on no concrete evidence whatsoever) often seem to be from a more secular background. I can't imagine that God will play well - especially a Catholic god - with them, being associated with outmoded, repressive traditions and the like. But they'll be too worried to come out and say it, lest it sound like they're criticisng the EU itself. Again, it'll likely be ignored.

8/29/2006 01:07:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Ah - m'lord Cranmer, I should have guessed you'd be on this... You must have posted as I was typing...

8/29/2006 01:12:00 pm  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Nosemonkey,

As I say, it is simply a little maddening that when one examines the notion of a European economy, there is acknowledgement of competing agendas; when one raises European defence, there is discussion of diverging priorities; when one looks at European justice, there is examination of differing histories; when one raises European agriculture or fisheries, there are national interests. Yet when one raises the issue of a European religion, one is dismissed as a 'conspiracy theorist' or obsessed with 'plots’, when the agenda is very real indeed, as Colman observes.

8/29/2006 01:26:00 pm  
Blogger BondWoman said...

They always say this when they've been to see the Pope. It just seems to be a knee jerk reaction. I frankly don't think the Germans would allow this to get in the way of more pragmatic concerns about the Constitutional Treaty if they saw the way forward opening in relation to the institutional reforms they would like to see (like more QMV).

8/29/2006 01:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Tom M said...

"Why must we always have such second-rate minds in charge of working out where to go with the EU project?"

I'd have said a fifth rate concept like the EU should be grateful for the odd second-rater in charge of it.

8/29/2006 08:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Michael said...

I think Europe would be far better off, if the UK left.

8/30/2006 07:39:00 am  
Blogger Alex said...

This is a demarche in the on-going realignment of German politics post-reunification. Remember that the CDU was created by Adenauer on the ruins of the prewar DVP and Zentrumpartei - the latter being the voice of political Catholicism. Being a Z veteran himself, he saw to it that the statey Catholic conservatives dominated the new party rather than the remaining right-liberal types.

More importantly, the political geography of West Germany played a role. Losing the north-east meant that rather than a Protestant majority, the BRD was a roughly equal split between southwestern Roman Catholics and northern Lutherans, which corresponded to the Social Democrats up north, the CDU in the south-west, and the CSU in Bayern.

Economic development postwar saw a realignment - pre-1945, German industry was concentrated in the Ruhr for coal'n'steel'n'chems, and around Berlin for the "second industrial revolution" of electrical engineering, electronics, and automotive/aviation engineering. With the Berlin area gone, the newer industries rebuilt mostly south of the Ruhr, from Cologne down - so the south-west and Bavaria went from being agricultural hick country to being a mammoth export industry powerhouse, and the new CDU rose with it. It also rose relative to the Bavarian CSU in national importance.

Fast forward. Angie Merkel is a Lutheran from Prussia, hence a rare bird in the CDU and about as welcome in the CSU as a Turkish immigrant. You may recall that back in 2002, she was pushed off the bus by the CDU and CSU's grey men. Instead the CSU leader Edmund Stoiber ran against Schröder and lost (predictably - the CSU, a survival of the Austrian-centred hard right Christian Social movement of the 1910s is wildly unpopular in Germany outside Bavaria). Partly this was because she's a woman and the CDU-CSU hierarchies are fartingly macho. Even more it was the regional/confessional factor that scared off the CSU.

Unfortunately for them, Merkel stayed in charge of the CDU organisation - she'd been elected after all - and used this to cull enough old buffers to get the candidacy in 2005. Being the only CDU candidate likely to get votes up north, this was wise.

However, in order to stay in charge, it's necessary to placate the Bavarians every so often. Otherwise they might start scheming with the SPD to get rid of her, or even secretly reopen talks with the FDP and the Greens to get rid of both her and the Socialists.

8/30/2006 12:30:00 pm  

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