Nonexistent Shared Christian Values Are No Justification For The EU’s Existence

Francis Campbell - Reimagining Europe

The latest feeble Christian case for remaining in the EU: “Let’s forge a meaningful common European identity based on the fluffiest and least well defined parts of our faith!”

More hand-wringing waffle from the Reimagining Europe blog, this time from regular contributor and former British diplomat Francis Campbell:

Whatever the outcome of the UK referendum in June, there will be equally important questions for EU leaders in the years ahead. The process of Britain’s renegotiation has led many to consider their own national identity and how it fits within the identity of the European Union. With a rising tide of Euroscepticism in countries across the continent, the challenge for Europe’s leaders is to instil a sense of European values which enhance rather than threaten national and regional identities.

Right-o. The challenge apparently is not to question whether the decision to unite the countries of Europe under a single supra-national government was a smart idea in the first place. No, the challenge is simply to do a quick PR job, to “instil a sense of European values” and force the restive people of Europe to come to terms with this government that has been designed for them, without their input or their permission.

Campbell at no point questions the wisdom of the project to establish a supranational government of Europe in the first place, taking its existence and benefits as a given despite the current referendum offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to question old assumptions and break out of stale ways of thinking.

But Campbell has no interest in doing any of this – he is concerned that the EU try to “build bridges” with its citizens, even though the EU project was largely created behind their backs and without their permission. Saying that the EU needs to build bridges with those it has the nerve to call its citizens is like saying that a robber should be polite and avoid leaving a mess while they ransack your house – when the real issue, of course, is that they have no business walking off with your DVD player in the first place.

We are then treated to more of the same woolly, vague and undefined hand-wringing ecumenism which sadly typifies too much of the church’s response to the EU referendum debate. Campbell writes:

In such a context the EU’s task of building bridges between citizens is a daunting one. But perhaps there is an opportunity in the current crisis for EU member states to identify common interests and shared values in among the obvious cultural differences across Europe.

One powerful shared value that is missing from the negotiation tables in Brussels is religion. Faith plays a huge part in the lives of many millions of EU citizens, yet it has been all but barred from the political arena. Whether they profess to have a faith or not, political leaders should look to religion for inspiration when forging the future identity of the EU.

Christianity is arguably something that is common to all European member states and a potential value or source of identity around which they could unite. But how do we reconcile that sense of shared identity and history with those of other faiths or none?

Catholicism, and indeed all major faiths, teaches us to believe in the intrinsic dignity of every human person. If we can look beyond our differences and guard our national interests less jealously, every EU citizen has shared values and a common identity and a commitment to live within and promote a shared pluralist space.

Okay, but how does that translate into the necessity for a powerful and activist supra-national government to sit above the nation states, claiming exclusive competency in a wide array of areas to speak and act on behalf of a group of people as diverse as Brits, Germans, Poles and Greeks?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Campbell’s background is in the Foreign Office – including a number of postings to the European Union – so he of all people should understand at least the basic history of how and why the EU came to be and took its present form. Is such a complex and inherently antidemocratic structure in any way necessary to express whatever limited sense of European-ness which may exist in our hearts and minds? Of course not, and Campbell knows it. The only reason you create an organisation with institutions mirroring those of a nation state and staffed with people who constantly agitate for more power and competencies is because you ultimately want the new organisation to be an independent actor on the world stage, replacing the nation states from which it was built.

Of course we all share a common humanity, that much is self-evident. But the sheer disingenuousness required to make the huge leap between all of us believing in the dignity of human life and all of us wanting or needing to be governed by the same common set of institutions in Brussels is simply staggering. And hardly Christian.

Trying to shoehorn Christianity in to fill the spiritual and democratic void at the heart of the European Union also brazenly overlooks the rapid growth of secularism, particularly in Western Europe. If Campbell is seriously suggesting that the EU base its social law on the values of the Roman Catholic Church, as would no doubt be popular in much of Poland, how does he think it will go down in France, Germany and Britain?

And if we attempt to base European values partly on other assertively growing faiths (i.e. Islam), what will then be the consequences for fundamental rights such as freedom of speech? And if this isn’t what Campbell means, then what exactly is his suggestion, than more hand-wringing, morally relativist waffle from the Christian Left?

Pete North hammers this point home in a recent blog post on European disunion:

We are persistently told that Eastern European countries are just chomping at the bit for Western liberalism and that is the justification for root and branch social reforms at the behest of the EU. Anyone who objects is clearly regressive in their eyes. Except the problem with EU foreign policy is that EU elites speak only to other political elites who tell them what they want to hear.

But as with the UK the metropolitan view is somewhat different to the provincial view which is seldom ever heard. It’s all very well demanding sweeping reforms but this rather forgets the lessons we learned in the UK. All economic and social reform has casualties and too much too soon creates resentment that lasts generations. That is why the Tories still can’t win seats in parts of Yorkshire and the North East.

Now apply that same revolutionary industrial reform to Poland and Ukraine while demanding social reforms that do not sit well with the catholic population. Attitudes are nearly thirty years behind in some regions. Try being an unmarried mum in rural Poland. Even today there are still objections in Ireland to reforms to abortion laws. That goes double for Eastern Europe.

So Francis Campbell’s bright idea to base our perpetually missing common European identity on Christianity or religion is clearly a dud. As the Anglican church has discovered, there is such wide and irreconcilable difference between its own traditionalist and progressive wings that some people find themselves unable to remain part of the same congregation or communion. And that’s just one branch of Christianity! How, then, is forming the kind of robust, multi-layered identity required to legitimise a powerful supranational government going to be possible merely by reeling off a few bland pronouncements about Christian “values” and the dignity of human life?

In short, this is exactly the kind of desperately small, unimaginative thinking which is responsible for so much of Britain’s current democratic malaise. When presented with an historic opportunity to look again at European and global systems of governance and regulation, all that Francis Campbell can do is propose minor tweaks to the status quo – tweaks which in his heart of hearts he must realise are empty words which will make no discernible impact in bridging the gap between an increasingly powerful, unloved European Union and the citizens of its member states.

And this is why Brexit must be more than an event – it must be just part of a larger process of democratic renewal and reform of our governance. There is precisely zero point in reclaiming powers and competencies from Brussels through Brexit if we are only to give them back to a government and Foreign Office staffed by rent-a-bureaucrats, who have the “vision” only to ploddingly execute the instructions placed in front of them, and will probably end up giving power away again to someone else in exchange for a few magic beans.

Francis Campbell, like too many other prominent Christian EU apologists, begins from the lazy and unsupported starting point that the European Union is inherently good, virtuous and necessary, without so much as examining its history or asking why similar structures have not developed in other part of the world. The brain then only truly engages when considering how the people might be better made to realise all of the wonderful good being done on their behalf, at which point we get lots of flowery language about shared Christian values but no intellectual meat on the bones. And the analysis is worthless anyway, because the initial assumptions were flawed from the start – the EU is not inherently good, virtuous or necessary.

So still we wait for that most elusive of things – a structured, intellectual Christian case for the European Union, and for Britain remaining in the EU. Many have stepped forward to try, but none (to my knowledge) have yet succeeded. Some have made themselves look quite silly in the process.

And time is running out.


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Top Image: Times Higher Education

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The EU’s Undermining Of National Identity Creates A Space Where Islamist Extremism Freely Grows

Jean Claude Juncker - Manuel Vals - Brussels Attacks - European Union

Eroding national identities while forging an unwanted and unloved new European identity creates a dangerous gap, which Islamist extremists are now exploiting

There is a welcome glimmer of realisation in today’s New York Times that repeated attempts to artificially force political union on the disparate peoples of Europe (alternately by threat and by stealth) is leading to increasingly suboptimal outcomes.

Jochen Bittner writes:

Official Europe has worked hard to move past nationalism, so that there is no German or French Dream. But there’s no European Dream, either, not yet. So new migrants have no spirit to tap into, as they do in the United States. Instead, some Muslims find it more attractive to give their loyalty to Allah, their fellow believers or the Islamic State.

Intelligence services estimate that up to 6,000 jihadists from Western Europe have traveled to join the Islamic State. This enormous figure does not illustrate merely the failures of integration policy. It also shows the failure of mainstream European Muslims to keep their youth immune from extremism.

A result of this mutual apathy is too many Islamists, and too few police and intelligence officers — particularly in Belgium, but not just there. We may have a common European currency, but we still do not have a common European terrorism database. Islamists in Western Europe seem better coordinated than the European authorities hunting them.

There is a creeping awareness too that the head-in-the-sand insistence by many Western leaders that Islamist terror has “nothing to do with Islam” has been a textbook case of wishful thinking overriding political judgement, even common sense:

For the sake of social peace, after the Sept. 11 attacks, and later after the Madrid and London bombings, we told ourselves that Islam and Islamism had nothing to do with each other. But sadly, they do. The peaceful religion can sometimes serve as a slope into a militant anti-Western ideology, especially when this ideology offers a strong sense of belonging amid the mental discomfort of our postmodern societies.

That’s not to say that the article is right about everything. At one point it lapses back into the lazy, unthinking assertion that the European Union is solely responsible for keeping the peace since the Second World War:

So are Germany’s critics right? Is it reasonable to pull up the drawbridge?

In a way, the very question shows the disproportionality of the thought — unless you think it’s worth sacrificing 60 years of peace and international cooperation to the depredations of terrorists. It’s what they want; European disunity, confusion and extremism put them a step closer to the all-out war between Muslims and non-Muslims they so desperately seek.

The notion that the leaders of Islamic State – or radical jihadists in general – could give a hoot whether the Western European countries they so fervently loathe are grouped together under a single political umbrella or under their own auspices is ludicrous beyond words.

The home-grown radical Islamist terrorists from Belgium, Britain and France do not feel any allegiance to Europe or to their own particular country. Their only allegiance is to their warped strain of Islam, which teaches them to loathe anything and everything which does not conform to a very fundamentalist, conservative and specific worldview.

If anything, the European Union’s insistence on subordinating the national identities of individual member states in a thousand ways large and small, and attempting to shoehorn in an artificial new European identity which consistently fails to take root is primarily responsible for allowing a radical Islamist identity to creep in between the cracks.

If the European Union is the vehicle for international collaboration that its cheerleaders consistently claim, then it would focus on intergovernmental co-operation – for that is what will do the most good thwarting future terror attacks. But the EU doesn’t particularly care about co-operation between security services. Such matters are exquisitely boring to the architects and drivers of European political integration, who care only about creating a single European state.

Consider: if the European Union is a benign and non-threatening group of countries coming together to trade and solve common problems (like the threat of Islamist terrorism), why is such a tiny fraction of its budget – and an even smaller percentage of officials’ time – spent on enhancing intergovernmental co-operation so that agencies and forces work seamlessly together when they most need to?

No, the European Union has a flag, anthem and parliament for a reason – because those are the things that matter to them, the building blocks of political union. Sure, the EU’s leaders are happy to take advantage of the Brussels terror attacks – as they do with every other crisis – to declare that the only solution is “more Europe”. But the more Europe they have in mind won’t do a damn thing to thwart future terror attacks. It will only make them more likely.

Building a politically unified European state involves first dissolving existing national identities, and then replacing them with a new European identity commanding the loyalty and affection of the people. The EU has been moderately successful at the former, but absolutely hopeless at the latter. Staggeringly few people see themselves as European first and foremost – nearly all retain primary loyalty to their country, or in some cases to a region – like Scotland or the Basque region.

And as the nation state is undermined on one side while the vaunted new European identity consistently fails to materialise, this creates an ever widening gap which can be filled by Islamist extremist recruiters and terrorists. When there is no healthy sense of national identity, first and second generation immigrants may struggle to assimilate, and sometimes they will find meaning and belonging in undesirable places.

None of this should be shocking. Much of it was entirely predictable. But the European Union – who are now sickeningly claiming that they were the true victims of the attack, as though a self-important bureaucratic talking shop even registers on the Islamic State’s radar – refused to take the threat seriously, because it was too busy building up the appearance and trappings of a state.

Proper co-operation and coordination between national intelligence services does not require a European Parliament, a European Council, a flag, an anthem or pretensions on the world stage. If the EU really cared about keeping its citizens safe first and foremost, it could immediately deprioritise all further steps toward political integration, roll back its outsized role in supranational governance and focus on facilitating the kind of basic inter-governmental cooperation that might have feasibly prevented the Paris and Belgium attacks.

But of course the European Union will never do this in a million years. Because the EU has some other objective, far more important than trifling concerns over national security, on its agenda.

Now what could those other priorities possibly be?


Brussels Attacks - Je Suis Bruxelles

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