God and (European) Constitution

26 May

Our Founding Fathers were smart enough to leave "god" out of our Constitution. They knew that religion could tear apart the fragile union they were building and they simply left it to the states to decide the role religion would play in politics. Yet there is a constant argument from certain segments of the population that the framers never intended for religion to be as separated from politic as it is today. Many go so far as to say that we are a (Judeo-)Christian nation and we need to restore our heritage before we lose our special place in God's plan for the world. For some, it has gotten so bad that they are planning a Christian Sucession. However, I am still confident that leaving god out of the Constitution has done more to hold us together as a country then it has torn us apart. This is a lesson I hope the Europeans can take from us.

You see:

As the Europeans haggle over the final wording of their first constitution, they are bedeviled by a three-letter word: God.

Mind-numbing arguments over budget rules and weighted voting can be delegated to technocrats. The issue of whether the most ambitious document in European Union history should include a reference to the Continent's Christian heritage is different, an emotional, theological wrangle over the meaning of culture, history and faith.

Where we started with a short, concentrated history, Europe has a long and fragmented one. Besides the Native Americans and some tribal religions we brought by slaves from Africa, we can truthfully argue that there wasn't much religious heritage in America that was connected to Judeo-Christian faiths in some manner. Deism was big back then (Jefferson and Washington) and was Unitarianism (Adams and Madison). Not exactly Evangelical Protestant Christianity at its purest, but whose going to quibble? Europe on the other hand has to deal with identity issues like this:

Ever since Charles V erected an altar and choir stall in the middle of this city's Great Mosque five centuries ago – clearing out many of the mosque's emblematic red-and-white-striped arches in the process – Córdoba's Mezquita has symbolized Spain's divisive past.

But now, Muslim immigrants and Spanish converts to Islam are requesting the right to pray inside what was once Europe's most spectacular mosque. That right was taken away during the Christian Reconquest in 1236.

And of course there is the whole Turkish issue. They are considered part of Europe. They did occupy large chunks of it at one time. They did almost sack Vienna, twice. In fact, Christian Europe was almost consumed by Muslim Europe (when it wasn't consuming itself over who had the right interpretation of God). If (when) Turkey joins the EU, what will it have to say about a "Christian" constitution?

Since Spain, France, the UK, and Germany all have large Muslim populations, I can understand the fear that many have that Islam will somehow defeat Christianity if it isn't enshrined in the European constitution. However, since "Europe" is a secular construction designed for dealing with economic issues, not social or religious ones, wouldn't it be better if the member states handled religion? It will probably do more to allow the Union to achieve its goal of economic union better then including it. It worked for us and it can work for them. Plus the EU constitution allows a legal way for member states to withdraw if things get too anti-Christian in Brussels. Saves the trouble of moving.

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