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Would the European Union Rather Die than Switch?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 27, 2008

The European Union finds itself in a dilemma. Ideologically it is almost viciously anti-family. But as a practical matter, the decline of family life is destroying Europe. The most recent study to bear this out is the second annual report released in mid-May by the Institute for Family Policy in Spain. Here are some of the IFP’s findings and recommendations.

Surveying nation-by-nation demographic trends, the study shows that lower birth rates, higher divorce rates, increasing abortion rates, and later marriages are combining to destroy the populations of Europe, leaving country after country with an aging population sustained only by rising immigration. These problems afflict both Western Europe (where secularization has led to a steep decline in Christian influence) and Eastern Europe (where decades of Communist rule also led to a steep decline in Christian influence). There were a million fewer births in 2007 than twenty-five years earlier in 1982. Mere population replacement requires 2.1 children per family, but all European countries fall below that rate, with Poland and Slovakia at the bottom with 1.3.

Worse, abortion is one of the two leading causes of death in Europe (cancer is the other). An abortion is performed in Europe once every 27 seconds, for a total of about 1.2 million abortions each year. Spain, where same-sex marriage has just been legalized, has the highest abortion rate. Meanwhile, out-of-wedlock births and divorce are both on the rise. There were 700,000 fewer marriages in Europe in 2007 than in 1980, a 25% decrease, but there were 365,000 more divorces. One in three children is born out of wedlock. Those who do marry are also on average marrying later in life.

The IFP study recommends that European Union member states allocate 2.5% of their gross national products for direct family assistance programs, and to amend tax laws to make them more supportive of families with children. Interestingly, formerly strong Catholic countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland) are at the bottom of the family support list. Finally, the report urges the European Union to make pro-family policies a major political priority as a simple matter of survival. It even calls for the EU to promote the family as a universal institution, complete with special rights, including the right of parents to educate their children.

It is at the transition between facts and policies, of course, that the report will meet resistance. The ideology of the EU is thoroughly anti-life and anti-family. And when you combine all this with recent studies which show a strong correlation between religious conviction and family size (see the last part of my April 30th blog entry, On Telling the Good News), the European Union’s dilemma is thrown into stark relief, for the EU is unrelentingly secular and anti-Christian as well. Some readers may recall the old cigarette advertisements showing smokers with black eyes saying they’d “rather fight than switch” brands. Non-smokers (nowadays an intensely moral breed) used to joke at the time that such people would also rather die than quit smoking. Whatever the case with smokers, more recently the AIDS epidemic, with its overwhelming links to homosexuality and drug use, shows that many people would truly rather die than change their behavior.

We may find that the same is true also in the larger cultural context that is—or was—Europe. For even in the face of undeniable demographic facts, the European Union is intent upon expanding homosexual “rights”, including gay marriage—on the right road, so to speak, but deliberately going in the wrong direction. As of this moment, then, it really does seem that most Europeans would rather see their civilization die and their traditional populations disappear than convert back to the values of faith and family—that is, the Christian values—which originally made Europe strong, healthy, and even great.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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