Author: Jeff Fountain, The Schuman Centre for European Studies, Netherlands
‘We are called to bethink ourselves of the Christian basics of Europe by forming a democratic
model of governance which through reconciliation develops into a ‘community of peoples’ in
freedom, equality, solidarity and peace and which is deeply rooted in Christian basic values.’
Robert Schuman (1958).
Anyone familiar with today’s European Union knows that, while it has continued to attract
member states, and has facilitated countless dialogues that in the past were settled by
violence, thus upholding peace for 60 years, it falls short of Schuman’s original dream of a
‘community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian basic values’. Whatever happened to that
The overwhelming trend in Europe over the past sixty years has clearly been one of
secularisation, and that has been reflected in the general tenor of EU policy-making. Biblical
values have been considered by many to be outdated, quaint, passé and irrelevant.
Secularists assumed that religion was doomed to die slowly on the sidelines as Europeans
grew more enlightened.
That assumption, however, has proved to be ill-founded. Now the term ‘post-secular’ is being
used increasingly to describe our times. God and religion are making a comeback on to the
European scene, a subject of much recent debate in the media. Islam’s renewed presence in
Europe has been but one factor causing the debate on religion and politics to resurface.
A brief survey of the development of the European Union since 1950 will help us understand
what happened to the dream.
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