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God left out: European leaders decide not to include Christian roots in EU Constitution

ROME (BP)–When 25 European Union leaders signed the first EU Constitution, any reference to the continent’s Christian roots was omitted despite requests from the Vatican.

The constitution, which consolidates past European Union treaties into a single document, was signed Oct. 29 in Rome but is largely viewed as ceremonial because national parliaments from member countries still must ratify it.

“What religious sense that remains [in Europe] is little more than a residue of history,” Darrell Bock, a New Testament studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, observed in a Dallas Morning News column.

“Europe is post-Christian, almost completely secular,” wrote Bock, who is currently a guest scholar in Germany. “Fewer than 5 percent of Europeans go to church or synagogue, a great contrast to the 40 percent to 50 percent in the United States.”

Bock added that more Muslims in England attend weekly worship services than do Anglicans.

“The Holy See has always favored the promotion of a united Europe on the basis of those values that are part of its history,” Pope John Paul II said after the signing of the constitution, according to The New York Times. “Keeping into account the continent’s Christian roots means making use of a spiritual heritage that remains fundamental for the union’s future developments.”

Examples abound, however, of Europe’s growing secularism. The Roman Catholic Italian minister who was nominated as the union’s justice minister withdrew his candidacy after drawing criticism for his conservative views. During his confirmation hearings before the European Parliament, Rocco Buttiglione called homosexuality a sin and said women are better off married and at home. The candidate who has replaced Buttiglione favors homosexual unions.

“The rights of homosexuals should be defended on the same basis as the rights of all European citizens,” Buttiglione had said in part. “I would not accept the idea that homosexuals are a category apart.”

“The European Parliament probably would have rejected Bush, but the American people have instead voted for him,” Buttiglione commented after stepping aside, according to The Times. “America has shown itself more religious and more attentive to values than Europe.”

“Is anyone surprised that a conservative Roman Catholic would believe that homosexuality is a sin and that men and women should marry in order to have children?” asked R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in his Crosswalk.com column.

The Buttiglione controversy “provides convincing proof” that the European Union, which has “refused even to acknowledge that Christianity had formative influence in the creation of European culture, has lost all moral sanity and is firmly committed to creating a new post-Christian, post-tolerant and postmodern culture of radical moral revolution.”

At least one Italian political commentator believes the criticism of Buttiglione and the fight to include Christian roots in the constitution may turn out to be a good thing for those who wish to diminish the advance of secularism in Europe.

“It’s positive,” Luca Diotallevi, a sociologist at the University of Rome, told The Times. “We will begin to discuss things that have long been taken for granted. Religion was an issue we could not touch. Now we’re starting. We’re not very good at it, but we’re just getting started.”

The EU is dealing with religion in another area over the question of admitting Turkey into membership. Though the EU has in the past cited concerns about Turkey’s human rights and democracy practices, some say the underlying concern is Islam.

A report in the November issue of Egypt Today recounted that 20 to 30 percent of the French population under the age of 25 are now Muslim. Demographers also contend that native-born French are not reproducing at nearly the rate of France’s large Muslim immigrant community. France has more Muslim immigrants than any state in the EU, currently representing about 7 percent of the nation’s 60 million people.

Thus, the French fear that allowing Turkey into the EU would cause “the river of Islam to enter the riverbed of secularism” at an even faster rate than the present time, according to Egypt Today writer Tom Goeller. Polls in France show a majority of the population opposing Turkey’s entry into the EU.

But Turkey should be allowed into the EU, Goeller contended, because it is the only Muslim country in the world that is governed by what can be called a democracy.

“Therefore, Turkey is the proof that Islam and democracy are compatible, a fact that is vehemently denied by radical Islamists,” Goeller wrote. “There can be no doubt: It is in the EU’s vital strategic interests that Turkey stays democratic, stable, prosperous and a friendly ally. To again exclude the ‘Muslim part of Europe’ from the Union would be extremely shortsighted in the fight against global terrorism.”

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