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Dutch lawmaker presses case for militant secularism

March 17, 2011

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, gives voice to militant secularism in a remarkably polemical column for the Guardian.

The Dutch politician finds it ominous that religious leaders express political opinions, that leaders of the European Union speak with Church officials, and that the EU has diplomatic relations with the Vatican. But she is particularly concerned that Church representatives oppose efforts to promote homosexual rights and to distribute contraceptives. In her view, even the concept of religious freedom is a threat. She explains: “Freedom of religion is often conceived as a collective right of religion to exempt itself from the law, particularly the EU fundamental rights.”

And what are the “fundamental rights” of Europeans? She says: “The EU fundamental rights are currently in the process of finding increasing expression in legislation.” In other words, the European Parliament will decide, by majority votes, which rights are fundamental and which can safely be suppressed. Thus the column demonstrates the concern that Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly expressed: If the understanding of fundamental human rights is not firmly anchored in natural law, those rights are subject to the whims of legislators.

The Guardian column ends with a frank expression of the secularist creed: “It is high time for the secular nature of the European project to be re-emphasised. Europe doesn't do God.”


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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Mar. 18, 2011 8:54 AM ET USA

    Since the EU legislature can (while the United States Congress cannot) pass laws which prohibit the free exercise of religion, only the votes of her fellow Parliamentarians can stop her. In a sense she is correct: religion (like press, speech, assembly, etc.) are both individual rights and collective rights which in a free society cannot be restricted legislatively. Others have preceded her in the twisted logic that religious freedom is the imposition of atheism.