The Importance Of Religion In European Democracy

1962 Words 8 Pages
Historically, religion has played a pivotal role in the development of European Democracy; however, there has always been a conscious effort towards a secular state. Recently religion has become a more salient issue with an increase in the Muslim population, but there remains a perception that religion experiences a decline in importance. Although religious influence might not be explicit, many Europeans still identify with a certain religion and the church still plays a role in policy making, albeit a less obvious role. For many, a Christian identity has become more valuable, and this potentially stems from the appearance of more and more Muslim immigrants. The church and the state still have a close relationship, and each institution’s varied …show more content…
As European scholar Jytte Klausen notes, “In the coming decade religion will become an increasingly salient issue in European politics. This prediction runs counter to conventional wisdom that Europeans are ‘Post-Christian’” (Klausen, 2005, pp. 554). Secularism is still at the forefront of European politics, but there is not enough evidence to suggest that religion does not play an important role in Europe. For example, only two countries have a majority of non-believers, Sweden, and what used to be East Germany (Klausen, 2005, pp.554). This suggests the opposite of what some believe to be a gradual irrelevance of religion. If religion did not hold any more value, then certainly more countries would see a decrease in a religious majority. Another striking example of religious salience comes in the form of Denmark and Sweden, which “are often described as the epitome of European secularism, but 85 percent of the population in the two countries belong to the national Protestant churches” (Klausen, 2005, pp.555). Even though these countries illustrate authentic secularism, this statistic suggests that even highly secularized nations still represent a substantial amount of Europe’s religious population. Even when governments in Europe try to distance themselves from religion, there ultimately remains a role for religion in every country despite popular …show more content…
This role comes in various forms such as funding or privilege. A notable example of this stems from the drafting of the European Union constitution where, “German, Italian, Polish, and Slovakian delegates argued that a reference to ‘God’ and to ‘Christian values’ should be incorporated in the text, and they were supported by the former French president, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, a Roman Catholic.” (Klausen, 2005, pp.554). If religion were no longer important, then a highly influential document such as the European Union constitution would not have potentially referenced religious terms. Furthermore, the fact that politicians argued for a religious influence in the constitution also points to the presence of religion in not only Europe, but politics as well. Yet another example of government’s hand in illustrating religious sentiment came from Germany. While Germany is secular, “Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Party, has said that everyone who lives in her country must accept that it is based upon a Judeo-Christian value system” (Klausen, 2005, pp.555). Again, not only does the general public of Europe reflect some connection to religion, but individuals in government also express the value of religion in daily life. This suggests that religion is without question salient in contemporary European politics.

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