Church and State
The EU is a secular body, i.e., there is a separation of church and state. There are no formal ties to any religion and no mention of religion in any current or proposed treaty. Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon have included proposals to mention Christianity and/or God in the preamble of the text. This call has been supported by Christian religious leaders, most notably the Pope. However explicit inclusion of a link to religion faced opposition from secularists and the final Constitution referred to Europe’s “Religious and Humanist inheritance”. A second attempt to include Christianity in the treaty was undertaken in 2007 with the drafting of the Treaty of Lisbon. Angela Merkel promised the Pope that she would use her influence during Germany’s presidency to try to include a reference to Christianity and God in this replacement for the constitution. This has provoked opposition, not least in the German press, and as this inclusion may have caused problems in reaching a final agreement, this attempt was given up. Of the Union’s 27 states, only five have an official state religion, these being Cyprus (Cypriot Orthodox Church), Denmark (Danish National Church), Greece (Church of Greece), Malta (Roman Catholic Church) and England in the UK (Church of England). (Some other churches have a close relationship with the state.)
In the secularising EU, The Vatican has been vocal against a perceived “militant atheism”. It based this on a number of events, for example; the rejection of religious references in the Constitution and Treaty of Lisbon, the rejection by Parliament of Rocco Buttiglione as Justice Commissioner in 2004, while at the same time Parliament approved Peter Mandelson (who is gay) as Trade Commissioner, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. The European Parliament has also been calling for same-sex marriages to be recognised across the EU. Meanwhile, states such as Latvia and Poland  have rejected legislation designed to stop discrimination against homosexuals. This has been stated to be on religious grounds, with homosexual behaviour described as “degenerate” and “unnatural”, and the Catholic church influencing public opinion. The difference of opinion between these countries and Brussels has been damaging relations.
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