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One Union of Member States under God*

by Colman Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 05:29:32 AM EST

From EUObserver

German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested Europe needs a constitution that makes reference to Christianity and God following her audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday (29 August).

"We spoke about freedom of religion," Ms Merkel told journalists following the 45-minute meeting.

Did you decide whether it was a good or a bad thing?

She added "I underlined my opinion that we need a European identity in the form of a constitutional treaty and I think it should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way," according to press reports.

As has Europe forged Christianity. Mostly through the influence of its pagan past. Oh, and we should include references to absolute monarchy, discrimination against women and anti-semitism, all of which have also forged Europe in decisive ways.

The Christian Democrat leader has previously spoken out in favour of reopening the debate on religion in the constitution as the EU considers how to tackle the deadlock after the treaty's rejection by French and Dutch voters last year.

We'll fix the controversy by making it more controversial. That'll work! While we're at it why don't we include a ban on abortion?

During earlier negotiations on the content of the new EU charter, Spain, Italy and Poland were among the strongest supporters of a reference to God in the treaty.

But its opponents argued it could prove controversial in view of Turkey's potential membership of the EU as well as due to the strict separation of state and church in some countries, such as France.

I imagine that's considered a feature, not a bug.

I don't mind so much the religious references that are in the existing legal structures of existing countries and that have accreted there over the history of the states but the idea of adding an explicit religious reference into a modern constitution like this makes me angry. It's unnecessary, it's divisive and it's an insult to every non-Christian European.


* That would be the Christian god, if you don't mind.


Currently, the preamble refers to Europe's religious heritage only in general terms.

"Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law," it states.

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Not that I'm cranky and unreasonable about this.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 05:35:07 AM EST
Well I am cranky and unreasonable about it.

It's a disgrace.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 06:24:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To say something rather than just be discontent:

It's not just offensive to Turkey, it's offensive to all the people who are actively not Christian within Europe. What is the rationale for working so hard to offend these people? Why is it necessary?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:10:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you are not Christian you are not people.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:17:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you are not Muslim you are not people.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:19:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
During earlier negotiations on the content of the new EU charter, Spain, Italy and Poland were among the strongest supporters of a reference to God in the treaty.

Is the issue so important in any of these or other countries that they might actually vote to reject the Constitution if it excluded a reference to God?

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 05:37:22 AM EST
I'd vote to reject it if it included one.

I'm not quite a member state, of course. But I'd hope I wouldn't be unique.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 05:41:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They put up a new text with God in it to the French, it'll get thrown out again.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:25:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it would tell those nasty bomb throwing Muslims what's what.

I'm trying to work out if

1. Everyone has gone mad

or

2. Bush is the blackmail king of the world, and has hit people waiting to take out anyone who doesn't agree to join Jesusstan and the Idiot's Crusade.

(Neither of those is very reassuring, is it?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 05:39:49 AM EST
I underlined my opinion that we need a European identity in the form of a constitutional treaty and I think it should be connected to Nihilism and nietzsche, as Nihilism has forged Europe in a decisive way

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 06:32:42 AM EST
Is Merkel's statement  more intelligent or less intelligent than 'intelligent design'? Soon Mr. Ratzinger, as the unitary spiritual leader of the civilized world, is going to slam us on the head with that piece of U.S. rot. It seems that Merkel thinks there is one God and this God is Christian. Curious that people know which religion any god is.
by Quentin on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 06:36:42 AM EST
You may be referring to this, but here's a link to last night's Evening Thread and some evidence of religious madness among conservative Catholics.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:48:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If anything forged the Europe of the EU, it was war. The prime motive of the founders was to create economic (and increasingly political) ties so that European nations would cease warring on each other as they had for centuries. So let's have a mention of WAR in the preamble, so we can all get disunited again.

Don't let's forget that these wars were also quite often religious in nature. They pitted different categories of Christian against each other, and Christians against Muslims. Arguably, the European Jews were persecuted for religious reasons, too. So let's have a mention of RELIGION too, so we can all have another fight about that.

Seriously, I don't think this will fly. There are countries, France among them, who won't accept it. Will Merkel even be able to get her own country on board?

Sometimes I think she's a bit of a twit.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:45:39 AM EST
Merkel is listed as a Protestant, so presumably in part she is "thinking" with her faith.

At the same time, she is presumably trying appeal to her base. Again, the CDU is presumably not the Christian Democratic Union only in name. And indeed the further right you go within that party the more antagonism you'll find towards possible Turkish membership of the EU.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:49:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure there are wingnut religious Germans just as there are in other countries. The question is whether there are enough of them to win. Or whether the majority of people will go soggily along.

But this can't be done without debate, and I don't think the God squad would get a majority after open debate.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:16:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nosemonkey's response is good:

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?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:50:54 AM EST
Yes, this hits the nail on the head. One of the biggest problems with this idea is that it assumes a homogenous version of "God" and the "wisdom" of religion that is simply not visible in the reality based universe.

The different versions of Christianity may pretend to a mutual tolerance, but ideaolgically many have serious issues with each other. It the very idea of having different belief systems, it cos they don't agree about what god means or how to worship it.

Factor in all the other superstitions running around Europe and you realise immediately that;-
a) It is a deeply stupid idea
b) Despite that, the proposer cynically sees a personal advantage in promoting it.

question is, what does merkel gain from being such a merkin ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh gawd...have mercy...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:12:47 AM EST
Haha!  First the US, then Russia, now the EU!  Misery loves company.  Who wants pizza?

Btw am I alone in getting the shivers listenning to the head of Germany and a former Hilter youth talk about the need for some state sanctioned official ideological homogenity imposed on all Europe?  Angela wants to talk about religion and shaping Europe's history?  Let's talk about the historical relationship between the Pope and Germany.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:33:42 AM EST
Yeah, this takes a lot of head in the sand gall to talk about European Christianity-coming from the country of Hitler's christian Nazi's...jezzz...is she really that brain dead?

That must have been some sort of voodoo christian mind/meld backrub bush gave her.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 04:12:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is nothing new. Merkel talked about this already in May.

Deutsche Welle: Germany | 29.05.2006 - Opinion: Re-opening a Constitutional Can of Worms

It's an ambitious goal, and may yet land Berlin in hot water. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's demand that the constitution include a reference to God and Christian belief will complicate her foreign minister's job even further. This dimension to the debate had in fact been considered down and dusted, given that France made it clear it would never agree. By bringing the matter up again, Merkel is opening a whole new can of worms.

I think I may have linked to this before, though I have not mastered the ET search yet. :-( Some of these days I am going to figure it out.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 08:55:44 AM EST
I have not mastered the ET search yet.

Oh, glad I'm not the only one who doesn't get it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 09:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the empathy, Helen. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 09:06:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't get what Merkel is doing here. Is she trying to throw a bone to her constituency or something, or is she actually being serious about it?

Also, until I read this I thought that Germany just wanted to revive the old constitution, not redraw everything. If Merkel want to change something about the preamble, France may want to change something else. Soon you end up negotiating about everything and the ratification process will have to start from stratch.

But maybe Merkel doesn't realize this. Anyway, her idea of reviving the constitution struck me as a pretty useless way of wasting her political capital (which she still has in Europe). Germany is going to run into a brick wall during its 2007 presidency, like they never saw it coming.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 09:11:37 AM EST
Do you have an idea of how high support for this idea might be within the CDU?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 10:03:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how important this is for the CDU. The political situation in Germany is a bit hard to read at the moment, but basically Merkel has lost a lot of her power internally to the 'Minister Presidents' of the German States. Or maybe she never had much. But anyway, they sort of blocked the drive for a reform of the health system and since then her standing has been diminished.

A couple of tidbits:

The 'Gottesbezug' was a common demand of the CDU and the CSU at the time when the convention was finished and the haggling at the European Council over the Constitution about to begin. So, they lost out there.

The MFA of Germany (Steinmeier) is from the SPD. This means that within the CDU, the people who have to worry most about the consequences of what Merkel says (besides Merkel herself) are the leaders of the Parliamentary Committees on the EU and Foreign Affairs.

I would guess that the call for this reference from God is mainly coming from the (more catholic) CSU and its leader, Stoiber. But it's also quite possible that it's simply Merkel who feels strongly about it.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 12:48:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks like Frau Merkel is following in the illustreous steps of Bismark with her own kulturkmpf.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 10:01:56 AM EST


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