Conferences on Religion in Europe Warn of Persecution

EU Vice-President: “We are against fundamentalism, but we support religion”

More melodramatic rhetoric in the debate over religion in Europe. ASSIST Ministries reports:

Persecution is coming to the West. Under the guise of tolerance Bible believing Christians of all confessions are subjected to suppressive intolerance, warns a declaration issued at the Ecumenical Confessional Convention in Blankenburg, East Germany.

(“East Germany”?!)

The event with 130 Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox representatives was convened by the evangelical missiologist Prof. Peter Beyerhaus. The so-called Blankenburg Proclamation speaks of a dangerous anti-Christian influence on legislation, academic life and school education.

Scientists, who believe in God as the creator, were subjected to public defamation. Christians, not willing to compromise their faith, had to face ridicule, intolerance, stigmatization and career obstacles.

Who these “scientists” supposedly are is not explained, and one fears that Beyerhaus is actually trying to dress up objections to Intelligent Design and other forms of Creationism as some sort of persecution.

…According to the proclamation this “concealed affliction” may soon turn into open persecution. The threat could come from several directions – from globalization favoring the formation of totalitarian regimes, from growing syncretism, and from Islam.

The report mentions the families of German home-schoolers being subject to prosecution, and the falling population rate. This latter trend has been the subject of sensationalist Jeremiads from Roman Catholic neo-con George Weigel; I gave my own critique of this here.

Beyerhaus, it should be recalled, is the evangelical leader closest to the Pope; Christianity Today noted last year:

As a professor at Tübingen during the turbulent ’60s, Ratzinger forged an alliance with Peter Beyerhaus and other evangelical leaders to stand together against the forces of unchecked secularism and unbelief.

“We saw,” Benedict said, “that the confessional controversies we had previously engaged in were small indeed in the face of the challenge we now confronted, which put us in a position of having, together, to bear witness to our common faith in the living God and in Christ, the incarnate Word.”

Meanwhile, similar worries have been expressed by EU Vice-President Mario Mauro, speaking at a conference entitled “Europe at a turning point: confrontation of civilizations or a new dialogue?”. According to Interfax-Religion, Mauro believes there

…is a ‘conviction of many in that Europe should be build without religion and that this strategy is needed for opposing fundamentalism.’

‘They confuse fundamentalism and religion. We are against fundamentalism, but we support religion. Religion is a human dimension,’ the vice-president of the European Parliament remarked.

According to him, those opposing the participation of Churches in the European public life may become a ‘source of destruction of a political project of the one Europe.’

In his presentation at the conference Mauro said that moral relativism is a main challenge to Europe at present. ‘An attempt of certain countries to build society without God brings about very serious problems.’

‘However, Europe that does not believe would disappear sooner or later,’ a European deputy is convinced.

In particular, Mauro complains about a recent court ruling that the ban on women visiting Mount Athos violated human rights:

‘For the last ten years the Europarliament accused the Orthodox and Catholic Churches of violating human rights more then thirty times, but not once brought similar accusations against such states as, for instance, China or Cuba,’

This is a complaint that has also been made by “theo-con” politician Rocco Buttiglione, which I blogged on (and critiqued) back in 2004, and it is no surprise that the two men are close. From a dodgily-translated 2003 article:

During the Press Conference held yesterday with Italian Minister for European Affairs, Rocco Buttiglione as well as the organising group of [European People’s Party-European Democrat] MEPs…400,000 signatures gathered by the civil society in support of the explicit recognition of the Christian heritage of Europe in the future Constitution were presented to Minister Buttiglione as representative of the Presidency of Council…Mr Mauro (EEP-ED, [Forza Italia]) recalled the explicit recognition of the Christian heritage in the Constitution does not threaten the “laicité” of the European institutions. It is in fact the guarantor of the very “laicité” that marks European society.

The morbid hysteria over secularism in Europe is a subject that I’ve also looked at here and here.

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