Europe’s cul­ture war

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Europe is in the mid­dle of a three-way cul­ture war, be­tween the de­fend­ers of tra­di­tional Judeo-Chris­tian moral­ity, the pro­po­nents of sec­u­lar he­do­nism and the forces of Is­lamic Ji­hadism. In West­ern Europe, the fight be­tween Chris­tians and sec­u­lar­ists is all but over. The sec­u­lar­ists have won. Now, the re­li­gious vac­uum left by the demise of Chris­tian­ity is be­ing filled by the Mus­lims. Since one can­not fight some­thing with noth­ing, the Euro­pean sec­u­lar­ists are no match for Is­lam.

Mean­while, the dark forces of sec­u­lar­ism, such as the Euro­pean Union (EU), are wag­ing war in Cen­tral and East­ern Europe, where they tar­get coun­tries such as Poland, Slo­vakia and the Baltic states.

On April 25, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (EP), the EU’s leg­is­la­ture, adopted a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing “ho­mo­pho­bia.” With 325 votes against 124 and 150 ab­sten­tions, the EP warned Poland that it will face sanc­tions if it adopts a law bar­ring the pro­mo­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in schools. Churches, too, were rep­ri­manded for “fer­ment­ing ha­tred and vi­o­lence [against ho­mo­sex­u­als].” Poland’s prime min­is­ter, Jaroslaw Kaczyn­ski, com­mented on the res­o­lu­tion: “No­body is lim­it­ing gay rights in Poland. How­ever, if we’re talk­ing about not hav­ing ho­mo­sex­ual pro­pa­ganda in Pol­ish schools [. . .] such pro­pa­ganda should not be in schools.” Car­di­nal An­gelo Scola of Venice re­torted: “There is no ho­mo­pho­bia in the Catholic Church and it is time that all this [re­crim­i­na­tion of Chris­tians in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment] ended.”

It is not likely to end. The fight against “in­tol­er­ance” — i.e. ad­her­ence to tra­di­tional Chris­tian moral­ity — is in­ten­si­fy­ing. On May 3, the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights found Pol­ish Pres­i­dent Lech Kaczyn­ski guilty of vi­o­lat­ing hu­man rights be­cause he banned a “gay pride” pa­rade in War­saw in 2005. Last March, the same court or­dered Poland to com­pen­sate a wo­man who was de­nied an abor­tion. Last year, Poland was de­nounced by the Coun­cil of Europe be­cause it pro­hib­ited the dis­tri­bu­tion in schools of a leaflet about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

When Poland joined the EU in May 2004, it did so on con­di­tion that “no EU treaties or an­nexes to those treaties would ham­per the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment in reg­u­lat­ing moral is­sues or those con­cern­ing the pro­tec­tion of hu­man life.” How- ever, in Jan­uary 2006 the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment called for “tough ac­tion” against Poland and the Baltic states, while Franco Frat­tini, the EU jus­tice com­mis­sioner, warned that the EU has pow­ers un­der Ar­ti­cle 13 of the EU Treaty to com­bat ho­mo­pho­bia. The move came af­ter Latvia in­cluded an amend­ment in its con­sti­tu­tion that re­stricts mar­riage to a man and a wo­man, and Es­to­nia pro­posed sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion. Some mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment have called for pun­ish­ing Poland and the Baltic states by sus­pend­ing their vot­ing rights in EU coun­cils.

In Fe­bru­ary 2006, the EU brought down the gov­ern­ment of Slo­vakia, an­other Chris­tian coun­try in Cen­tral Europe, af­ter EU le­gal ex­perts re­jected a Slo­vak pro­posal which guar­an­teed that doc­tors and nurses in Slo­vakia would not be obliged to “per­form ar­ti­fi­cial abor­tions, ar­ti­fi­cial or as­sisted fer­til­iza­tions, ex­per­i­ments with or han­dling of hu­man or­gans, hu­man em­bryos or hu­man sex cells, eu­thana­sia, cloning, ster­il­iza­tions, [and] acts con­nected with con­tra­cep­tion.”

The EU ex­perts ruled that doc­tors should some­times be forced to per­form abor­tions, even if they have con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tions, be- cause the right to abort a child is an “in­ter­na­tional hu­man right,” while the right to con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tion is not “un­lim­ited.” The ex­perts stated that as­sisted sui­cide and same-sex mar­riage are also among the ba­sic hu­man rights.

In­deed, in West­ern Europe Chris­tians no longer en­joy the right of con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tion. In 2001, Nynke Eringa, a civil ser­vant in the Dutch town of Leeuwar­den, was fired be­cause she re­fused to per­form same-sex mar­riages, re­cently le­gal­ized in the Nether­lands. In 2004, her dis­missal was an­nulled be­cause the town had made pro­ce­dural er­rors when she was sacked.

The au­thor­i­ties have since de­cided that con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tion can only be claimed by civil ser­vants who were al­ready in of­fice be­fore 2001, while those em­ployed af­ter the le­gal­iza­tion of same-sex mar­riages can­not refuse to marry ho­mo­sex­u­als. This means that ac­cess to jobs in the civil ser­vice, which in­volve per­form­ing reg­istry of­fice mar­riages, is ef­fec­tively de­nied to Chris­tians. Sim­i­larly, in some West­ern Euro­pean coun­tries to­day Chris­tians are ef­fec­tively ex­cluded from med­i­cal pro­fes­sions by a re­quire­ment that they par­tic­i­pate in abor­tions dur­ing their stud­ies.

Even free­dom of speech has been re­stricted. Last year, a French court con­victed Chris­tian Vanneste, a mem­ber of the French Par­lia­ment for the gov­ern­ing UMP party, be­cause he had said that “het­ero­sex­u­al­ity is morally su­pe­rior to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.” Mr. Vanneste was sen­tenced to a fine of $4,000, plus $4,000 in “dam­ages” to the ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tivists who had taken him to court, on the ba­sis of the 2004 French law crim­i­nal­iz­ing “ho­mo­pho­bia.”

In 1954, Karl Pop­per warned that the “moral frame­work” is the most im­por­tant safe­guard of a so­ci­ety be­cause it “serves as a ba­sis which makes it pos­si­ble to reach a fair or eq­ui­table com­pro­mise be­tween con­flict­ing in­ter­ests where this is nec­es­sary. It is, of course, it­self not un­change­able, but it changes com­par­a­tively slowly. Noth­ing is more dan­ger­ous than the de­struc­tion of this tra­di­tional frame­work, as it was con­sciously aimed at by Nazism. In the end its de­struc­tion will lead to cyn­i­cism and ni­hilism, i.e. to the dis­re­gard and the dis­so­lu­tion of all hu­man val­ues.”

Paul Belien is ed­i­tor of the Brus­sels Jour­nal and an ad­junct fel­low of the Hud­son In­sti­tute.

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