November 7, 2009

Strasbourg: capital of muscular secularism

It is by no means an uncommon experience (for me, at least) to read a well-crafted piece on Italy in a foreign newspaper or magazine, whether European or American. And that’s why I feel like I have to mention this one in Time magazine. It provides a concise, yet thorough, coverage of the issue of the display of crucifixes in public school classrooms after the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (see my previous post).

“Europe’s increasingly muscular brand of secularism,” says the article. “has an unofficial capital: Strasbourg, France, […] home to the European Parliament and other key international bodies.” In fact, over the past decade, Strasbourg “has been the site of a series of repeated slap-downs to those who are fighting to hold on to the Old Continent’s fading religious impulses.” In 2004, for instance, a committee of the EU Parliament torpedoed the nomination of Rocco Buttiglione, a prominent Italian politician known for his traditional Catholic views and friendship with Pope John Paul II, as European Commissioner for Justice..

Of course, as the article points out, the presence of this Christian symbol in public schools “might be jarring to those in the U.S. and U.K.—even to the religiously inclined—where separation of church and state is drawn with clear lines,” but “the crucifix is widely accepted by Italians as a cultural as well as religious symbol.” Furthermore, while a 2008 Gallup poll registered that more than two-thirds of respondents in countries such as Britain, France, the Czech Republic and all of Scandinavia responded “No” to the question of whether religion was important to them, in Italy only 26% of respondents answered “No” to the same question.

Does this suggest anything about the state-of-the-art of the subject?


  1. Keep beating back Christianity, both in Europe and here in the US, and the State fills the void. Replace Jesus with Obama or Blair, sin for whatever is currently politically correct, God replaced with the international government, etc. As Communist States have shown, people need more than the Materialism the State offers. By currently shunning Christianity, and being apologists for Islamofascism, Islam will be the replacement; Sharia law anyone? At best maybe we can return to paganism if Al Gore and his fellow earth worshipers get their way in Copenhagen. Gaia anyone?

  2. It's a very good artcle. As for both the Buttiglione affair and the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, it was made clear that Europe is a decadent civilization.

  3. we can return to paganism if Al Gore and his fellow earth worshipers get their way in Copenhagen. Gaia anyone?

    I think the environmental movement has chosen the wrong slogans.

    It's not about "saving the Earth" (the planet will be here long after the human specie has ceased to exist (either because we become extinct like the dinosaurs, or because we evolve into something new).

    It's not about "saving the Nature": some part of it (insects, for example) are harder than anything we can throw to them.

    It's not even "saving Humankind", I think that even in the worst-case catastrophes _some_ humans would survive.

    But if we are to support 10 billions people on this planet, with a sustainable level of life, we are to be _very_ careful about how we treat the limited resources this planet has.

  4. As I said in an earlier comment, I think these are issues of national sovereignty. The European Union and other international bodies shouldn't be in a position to dictate the conditions of political life in member countries. Joining together to facilitate and promote trade and to create a common market are good things; giving away your sovereignty is not.