21 February 2007
Mr Ben Bradshaw, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Dear Mr Bradshaw,
On a related topic it appears that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is using the current six-month German presidency of the EU to revive the project for a European constitution. She reportedly said that "we need a European identity in the form of a constitutional treaty and I think it should be connected to Christianity and God, as Christianity has forged Europe in a decisive way" (The Guardian, Tuesday 29 August 2006). She is planning a Berlin Declaration which may claim that Europe is based on Christian values. The danger here is obvious. A declaration that confuses the undoubted role of the Churches in European history with its frequently negative role in the creation of modern European civilisation is likely to be hugely divisive in the context of modern Europe. Any European constitution needs to be neutral toward religion, leaving individuals free to hold their various private beliefs. I hope that our representatives, Mr. Kim Darroch and Ms. Nicola Brewer who will be liaising with the German EU presidency on the drafting of this declaration (Hansard 15th January), will press hard for a secular Berlin Declaration.
An alternative Brussels Declaration is being promoted by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC). One of its declarations is that "We hold that the state must remain neutral in matters of religion and belief, favouring none and discriminating against none." The Declaration is to be formally launched in Brussels on 27th February, ahead of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25th. I hope that you would feel able to endorse this declaration.
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I believe in humanity. We are an incredible species. We're still just a child creature, we're still being nasty to each other. And all children go through those phases. We're growing up, we're moving into adolescence now. When we grow up - man, we're going to be something!