EU: Secularism under attack from European Parliament President

The President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, has launched a vicious attack on secularism during a European prayer breakfast.

Mr Buzek, the former Prime Minister of Poland, and a Protestant, said that Christianity is one of the greatest strengths Europe has, and if it is lost, “we will be condemned to the erosion of the European spirit”.

Mr Buzek used his address to complain about what he described as “aggressive secularism”, describing secularists as “an aggressive, and in reality intolerant, minority” that would like to “lock our faith in to the small box of our privacy.” Such a move, he said “would mean to scrap the idea of religious freedom”. Mr Buzek went on:

“History shows that the empty space left by the removed cross has always been conquered by totalitarian ideologies. The disappearance of the cross often resulted not in the release but the enslavement of man.

“I am convinced that we can not only save our faith, but through our attitude in a secularised world, we Christians can also be the salt of this earth and a light for everyone.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “President Buzek is talking nonsense. Europe has had Christian values for 1,500 years, but they have not spared us from endless wars, many of them religious. Europe is thankfully experiencing an extended period of relative peace. The fact that this is happening while Christianity has become weak demonstrates that religion is not a pre-requisite for peace. A return to strong, sectarian religious power can be expected to bring with it renewed social conflict, together with intolerance and injustice.”

Meanwhile, Sophie in ‘t Veld, chair of the European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics (EPPSP), has sent an open letter to the Members of the Bureau of the European Parliament concerning the poor implementation of Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Article 17 commits the European Union to holding “an open, transparent and regular dialogue with… churches (and non-confessional and philosophical) organisations”. The Bureau consists of fourteen Members of the European Parliament who decide on the organisation of the Parliament and its rules. It is therefore the organ within the European Parliament that reviews the dialogue held under Article 17.

In the letter, Ms in ‘t Veld warns:

“Dialogue that is organised exclusively on the basis of organised life stance, by its nature excludes the convictions and beliefs of those millions of European citizens who happen not to be member of an association or community.”

The letter also urges the Bureau to ensure that the representative responsible for relations with churches and secular organisations is able to represent all views. It states:

“Recent public statements by Members of the leadership of this House suggest that they are personally opposed to the separation of church and state, and they do not feel public bodies such as the EU institutions should be secular in nature. They consider Christianity should be a determinant factor in our political work. Such views are a violation of the freedom of religion and belief, and an affront to millions of non-religious Europeans or indeed many Christians who believe public bodies should be neutral, secular in nature.”

The post is currently held by Vice President László T?kés, who is also a bishop of the Reformed Church of Romania.

In November 2011 Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, walked out near the start of a meeting at the European Parliament to discuss Article 17 dialogue saying that it was biased against secularists and others who had no religious faith. The meeting was initially chaired by MEP/bishop T?kés while awaiting President Buzek who had been delayed. When he arrived, Keith Porteous Wood left him in no doubt about the strength of dissatisfaction that had been expressed about the religious bias of the dialogue.

National Secular Society | 13th January 2012

6 Responses to EU: Secularism under attack from European Parliament President

  1. Greg

    Mr. Buzek is from Poland. It is very difficult to be neutral there. You are either a Christian “patriot” or atheistic intellectual. Unfortunately, he falls into the first category.

  2. Maciek

    Yeaa, Yes I’m from Poland and you’re absolutely right. Hopfully I’m in the second category as many young people here. F%%k the church!

  3. tomas

    Hopefully he´s one of the last voices of a disappearing generation.

  4. Jake

    The thing is, that in Poland, Buzek was considered a moderate. This was mainly due to the fact, that he is a Protestant. In a catholic-dominated society, this made him a plesant change from all the catholic dominionists. Apparently, as he got into the EU Parliment and felt the support of his fellow Protestants, he turned into a christian dominionist himself…

  5. Vicious

    The confusing thing is, that on one side, he declares atheits as “an aggressive, and in reality intolerant, minority” which does “lock our faith in to the small box of our privacy”. Where else does it belong then, after nearly 2000 years of Christianity with all the domination, that now is waved away to the atheists. As long as the church was dominant, no clergy tolerated atheism as something of “the small box of our privacy”. But now, the thief shouts “hold the thief!”, even as nowbody is stealing anything!

  6. wiwi

    A Polish court slapped a fine on a popular singer who bad-mouthed the Bible — the latest episode in which authorities grapple with religious defamation in a traditionally Catholic country that is growing increasingly secular.

    Dorota Rabczewska, a singer who uses the stage name Doda, said in a 2009 interview that she doubted the Bible “because it’s hard to believe in something that was written by someone drunk on wine and smoking some herbs.”

    A Warsaw court ordered her Monday to pay a fine of 5,000 zlotys ($1,450) for offending religious feelings.

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