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Religion in an Expanding Europe

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2007

    Useful studies of religious influences in the EU

    With controversies over the wearing of headscarves in schools and the place of Christianity in the EU Constitution, religious issues are, unfortunately, of growing importance in Europe. The contributors to this volume - eight US professors, one Catholic priest from Boston USA, one Norwegian and one German professor ¿ look at the impact of Europe¿s various religions. The studies of Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Church and Islam are by people with some experience of what they are writing about, who live in Europe¿s different nations, and so are more interesting than the generalising overviews. Enlargement has included countries with strong religious traditions - Catholic Poland and Lithuania, Orthodox Greece and possibly in future Muslim Turkey - feeding rather than reducing religion¿s sway in the EU. The contributors argue that religions are stumbling blocks rather than stepping stones toward the further integration of Europe and that enlargement could impede further EU integration. It could even capsize the whole unwieldy structure. Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Church and Islam are all advancing notions of Europe at odds with those of other Europeans. They are transnational religions, wanting to dictate their rules to the whole of society. Pope John Paul II wanted the EU¿s integration of Eastern Europe to re-evangelise Western Europe, seeing Poland¿s entry into the EU as `a great apostolic assignment¿. Islamic fundamentalists want a political Islam that would override Western society. Their doctrine of hijra obliges migrants as believers to proselytise and their legal system ¿ sharia ¿ is not compatible with secularism. As the EU¿s power grows so does the Catholic Church¿s influence: witness the ever-higher profile of the reactionary old bigot Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O¿Connor. The Pope is canonising the EU¿s founders as saints: the EU is increasingly a new Holy Roman Empire. Britain is far more secular than the EU: the British working class long ago tamed the Church, made government secular, and kept cardinals out of public life. It looks like we need to do so again.

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