THE POLITICAL PAGE

MAY 2004

 

Europe

 

Introduction

 

On the 1st May, ten nations officially became members of the European Union..  These are, in geographical order: Estonia, Letland, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.  They now partake in EU-wide free exchange of people, goods, services and capital.  Although some things are unclear in practise and in the future will cause painful consequences, 1st May 2004 will go down in history as an unforgettable day for this continent.  The former Soviet satellite-states are now bound by contract to the Western “free” democratic form of government – a vital reinsurance considering such a powerful neighbour in the East.

The vision of the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, which he presented on 9th May 1949, of a peacefully united Europe, has been fulfilled.  Never before has there ever been such a long period of peace on our continent – a situation that is so stable that a war with France would seem as absurd as a war between Prussia and Bavaria.

The new Europe sees itself not only as a trade and consumer community but also very consciously as one with common values.  For this reason, a Constitution has been designed to formulate the identity, values and functions of the enlarged European community.  This was settled in June 2003.

 

The amazing thing was, however, that although values were named such as “equality of man, freedom, democracy, respect for human dignity”, etc. (Article 2), they were attributed to humanism with an embarrassing avoidance of the Christian faith as the source of all these values.

 

Christians were challenged.  It is possible that this snub gave rise to more Christian self-assertion than would have been the case without this provocation.   The reaction was letters of protest, petitions, loads of articles, prayer and fasting.  The French delegate to the European Parliament, Elisabeth Montfort, said that 750,000 signatures were collected and organisations that represent 55 million citizens registered protest.  The failure of the European Conference on 12/13th December 2003 was seen by many as from God and understood as an answer to prayer.

 

The growing vigilance of Christians must not let up; to the contrary: watchful participation of Christians on the political level has just begun.  It is indispensable in view of an aggressive humanistic Laizimus that demands to be tolerated but practises intolerance, and Islam, which is determined to conquer Europe.

The following call is to provoke this implementation of the Christian faith through authoritive prayer in effective political and social actions.  This appeal and its background titled, “Europe – which way?- a call”,  can also be down-loaded  at www.beter-im-aufbruch.de.vu so that it can be distributed as quickly as possible per email and post in order to influence the behaviour of Christians in Germany and Europe.

It becomes politically concrete in the election to the European Parliament on 13th June 2004.


Shaping Europe

 

An Appeal  (12 Theses corresponding to the 12 stars on the European flag)

 

As Christians, we profess our common belief in the triune God:

            the Father as the Creator of all things,

            the Son as the Saviour of the world, and

            the Holy Spirit as the Comforter and Intercessor. (1)

 


In spite of denominational differences, we profess the unity of God’s people. (2)

 

We acknowledge Jesus’ lasting commission to His disciples to invite others to believe in Him and to practice their faith. (3)

 

We also recognize Jesus’ enduring directions to His disciples "to be salt and light". (4)

 

This commission inevitably includes a responsibility of Christians to participate in shaping society and public life in all areas. (5)

 

As a testimony from individuals, this is different from the social meaning of churches and goes far beyond it. (6)

 

The aim of Christian witness, according to Jesus, is not to establish a political power structure, but rather one man serving the other; it is not holy war and subjugation, but love and respect for each other's freedom. This is the way to build the "Kingdom of God." (7)

 

From the beginning up to this day, the testimony of Christians has become apparent under the most diverse social and political conditions – it is not bound to any particular form of government or structure of society. (8)

 

The Christian witness in the 21st century is occurring under the constantly changing conditions of a World Wide Web in all areas. Now, Jesus' "World Wide Commission" empowers today's Christians to actively participate in this process and to use the opportunities offered. (9)

 

The growing together of Europe is part of this development. This European process thus requires the creative commitment and dedication of Christians in all respects – and stands under the promise of the Lord. (10)

 

In a democratically structured Europe, this could find expression in that

  • all Christians would go to the polls and elect a new European Parliament;
  • they vote only for political parties or candidates who clearly

       acknowledge Christian faith and represent Christian values.

This way, the creative powers of European Christianity can be supported, concentrated and substantiated politically in Strasbourg. (11)

 

The active shaping of Europe by Christians finds its most appropriate expression in the reference to God in the Preamble of the European Constitution; Christians from all European nations should firmly stand up ( once more) for the recognition of God in the next few weeks – in intense prayer and also in declaring this intention to their local governments as these will soon decide on this Constitution. (12)

 


 

Touchstones of the Election

 

 

Touchstones of the Election to be asked in writing or orally of candidates or party headquarters:

 

  1. What is your position on the reference to God issue in the Preamble of the new Constitution?

 

  1. What is your position on the issue of Turkey's entry into the European Union?

 

  1. Is it necessary that the Christian occidental culture forms the foundation of Europe?

 

  1. Which "faction" of the European Parliament did you or do you want to belong to?

 

 

You can also directly address the party headquarters and ask them about these touchstones as they all have their European manifestos available. You can find their postal or email addresses and phone numbers on the Internet giving the URL (usually identical to the name) of the respective party.

 

 

The Voting Process

The European Election is based on a party list system. Political parties prepare a national list of candidates considering various aspects. In the Elections each voter only has one vote ("ticking") he or she can cast for one of the approx. 20 parties listed on the ballot paper. In the European Elections there is also a 5-per cent hurdle parties have to clear to win any seats.

In accordance with the principles of proportional representation, distribution of seats is based on the proportion of the total votes cast for the individual lists 

The ballot paper also shows the names of the candidates of the individual parties. If the seat has been given to a party it will go to the first candidate on that party’s list. The second seat is allocated to the candidate with the next highest number of votes and so on. This means that the first candidates on a list have the greatest chances of being elected.

 

 

International information in all European languages

see on  www.elections2004.eu.int

or (by mail)       European Parliament

                        Allée du Printemps  B. P. 1024

               F -    67070 Strasbourg;         T: 0033 / 388 17 4001 (French; English; German)


Background Information on the reference to God

 

To everyone who feels the reference to God in the European Constitution is still important.

 

Spain's change of government due to the March 11 Madrid attacks as well as Poland's relenting have, under Irish presidency, made conceivable an acceptance of the European Constitution during the first half of the year. As the biggest issue is mainly the new voting weight regarding Spain and Poland, the Constitution draft will probably be approved in the form proposed after settling this question.

 

This draft, however, does not contain a reference to God in its preamble. Yet this is one of the most basic subjects or may actually be the essential issue regarding the future shaping of life in Europe.

How can the "basic rights" such as the dignity of man be justified without the authority of the One Who created man and is thus above any current zeitgeist which – as has been the German experience – can change so quickly. What is the use of dignity of man if its implementation does not include human beings in the first three months of pregnancy and does not extend to old people willing to die or fertilized human eggs outside the body that might develop into handicapped babies (PID)?

 

The reference to God is in direct reference to humans!

The dignity of man depends on the recognition of God.

 

There are quite a few among the 25 EU member states that have already clearly spoken out for a reference to God in the preamble. Will they still have the courage to address this open question once again now that the consensus has become so close? Address a problem that is only a minor issue to most of the heads of government? Without a miracle the package may not be untied again.

 

Now on April 19 we actually saw a kind of miracle. Nobody would have expected Tony Blair's U-turn after years of resistance and plead for holding a UK referendum on the EU Constitution. Betting shops have predicted his complete defeat with odds of six to one. Seven more countries including Ireland and Denmark, known for their shaky stance, have decided to organize a popular vote. If only one member state rejects the draft of the Constitution, then under the terms of the current legal position the Constitution Treaty will fail for the whole European Union. In this case the Union will probably split into a two-speed bloc resulting in a political and administrative chaos.

 

If not by spiritual insight, then at least for political reasons the issue of how to deal with the "question of religion" might now be relevant to the heads of government as it is an essential subject to millions of voters. They might just need another stimulus from their people in this issue.


So we plead with all who agree with the tenor of this appeal

1.      again to bring before God this essential spiritual question in prayer, individually or in groups. In prayer you will get through to the boss of all bosses;

2.      to forward this text to all your friends and acquaintances by email or send a copy by post.

3.   to send a short letter to your appropriate head of government, if possible, and politely ask him to introduce and vote for this issue of reference to God before the final vote on the Constitution.

 

 

Background information on the European elections

 

Europe needs Christians now wide awake.

 

The important elections of members of the European Parliament will be held on June 13, and for the first time with 25 member states and some 338 million people eligible to vote. Whoever wants Europe to continue to be governed on the basis of its Judeo-Christian roots, whoever intends to give "Europe a Christian soul" should by all means go to the polls and also vote for the political party that stands for Christian values and the biblical concept of man even though – as is the case in some countries – these fundamental convictions may not be directly related to the Christian faith but its principles are openly supported. These national parties will then form a common "faction" in the European Parliament. In view of the big issues of our future, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, EU membership negotiations with Turkey, anti-Semitism, it is essential to strengthen Christian forces in Strasbourg which do not regard the "Christian issue" as a dispensable middle-class accessory ("laicism") but as an integral part of the occident and its culture.

In the previous European elections held in 1999, overall turnout was only 40 %. If all Christians unitedly went to the polls, they could more than double the impact of their votes in Europe. This should be sufficient encouragement to go to the polls on June 13.

Additionally, the impact of the European Parliament compared to the Commission and the European Council consisting of EU leaders has clearly increased under the terms of the new Constitution. This aggravates the problem of imbalanced political impact on the part of the different factions.


The time has come:
Europe is here!

And what about the Christians, are they also here - men and women who are wide awake, understand politics, play a part in it and actively participate in shaping Europe?

Europe as a political environment will be just as Christian as its Christians will be politically awake.


 

Prayer (with Psalm 96)

 

·        “Worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.  Say among the nations, The Lord reigns.” (v. 9,10).

Worshipping the Lord is the beginning: awe of His holiness.  In the middle of paganism, idolatry in admiration of spiritual and material values, also towards Allah, we proclaim: The Lord is King! And we worship Him.

·        “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth…Declare His glory among the nations, His marvellous deeds among all peoples.” (v. 1,3).  Something new has begun in Europe.  The God of history has performed many miracles. The miracle of reconciliation after centuries of war; the miracle of 59 years of peace; the miracle of reunification – this is worth gratitude and praise.  Sing a new song for a new Europe after 1945 and 1989, yes, for a new phase in the history of the world.  “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise!” (v. 4).

·        “For all the gods of the nations are idols”, that is, they do not help – and still they are given religious honour in Europe: the Enlightenment, which has elevated our thoughts and lowered our faith; further: faith in progress, consumerism and economic growth, faith in science, reason as “godly light”; security-fetishism; fun as a way of life instead of limiting order; educational arrogance, etc.  We need to repent and turn away from our evil ways.  Europe has become so godless that it has to have a discussion as to whether or not God can be openly mentioned in the Constitution and if the vote could be lost.  However, without our repentance, God cannot let His holy name be used in the Constitution. “He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His truth” (v. 13).

·        “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name” (v. 8).  Let us pray that the people of Europe will freely offer the Lord glory to His name in the Constitution.  If the European people, that is, their governments, decide to turn away from their God and their Judeo-Christian heritage, they will know God’s reality another way: as judgement.  Then, the efforts for unity will be lost – as in Babel – in the chaos of opinions, Europe will split into a “Europe of two speeds”,

rich and poor will tear each other apart, the smaller will rebel against the larger – all cracks already visible, which will not break only due to supernatural help.  Caution: “He is to be feared above all gods” (v. 4).

·        The call: “Ascribe to the Lord, o families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” (v. 7).  Let us pray that this and other calls will be repeated, heard and implemented a million-fold by Christians.

·        Let us pray that the church will “declare the glory of the Lord” in prayer and seek and do His will in political maters.  To this end, let us pray for a European-wide, trans-denominational and visible unity of Christians.  Only God can accomplish this through His Spirit.  For Pentecost, let us pray for the coming of the Spirit that can move everything.  May He come over all government heads, be they in conferences or speak in secret meetings with one another, that the reference to God becomes so undeniably important that they “turn around”, that is give a place in the Constitution to the name that decides all. “Tremble before Him, all the earth” (v. 9).

·        “Say among the nations, the Lord reigns!” (v. 10).  Whatever is against the clear good will of God for Europe, will be assaulted through prayer. The frontline that says. “without the church” but means “without God” must yield.  It should crumble until it falls.  It is all about the name of the Lord that made Europe what it is today: from human dignity to the state form of democracy, which, world-wide, only really functions in Judeo-Christian cultures.

In confrontation with powers, the name Jesus, is also thoroughly the flaming sword that destroys all its enemies.  “Splendour and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary” (v. 6).

 

 

Ortwin Schweitzer

(translation:Evelyn Souan)