European integration and the Christian?
Tony Blair has given signals that he will be looking for Britain to adopt the euro in the next few years. No doubt there will be much debate among Christians about this. Here Tony Bennett expresses views against . . .
France and Germany began European integration by agreeing joint production of coal and steel in 1949, and developing that in 1951 by bringing Italy and the Benelux countries into the 'European Coal and Steel Federation'.
By 1957, this became the 'Common Market', later the 'European Economic Community', then 'European Community' and now 'European Union'. Germany's Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, recently likened this process to constructing the building of the new nation of Europe: 'We have the foundations and the walls; now for the roof.'
But resistance to the 'European project' is growing. The Danes voted 53% to 47% against the euro, Switzerland voted 78% to 22% to refuse their government permission to start talks about joining the EU, and recently Ireland rejected, by 54% to 46%, the Treaty of Nice.
Roman Catholic support
One powerful supporter of the EU is the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, three founding fathers of the 'European project', Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcido Gaspieri, are currently being beatified, with 'sainthood' to follow. Why? As Margaret Hebblethwaite of The Tablet told The Daily Telegraph in 1999, conceding that 'politicians rarely get canonised', it was because 'they founded the European Union on Roman Catholic principles'. So what are the European Union's main principles?
Fundamental is the Treaty of Rome doctrine of Acquis Communitaire. This means: 'Once the EU has acquired control over part of a nation's affairs, then it keeps those powers forever'. Many people wish the EU could become more democratic, or wish we could regain control over our fishing, agriculture or other matters. But none of this is legally possible. Already, over 75% of all law-making in Parliament simply converts EU Regulations and Directives into British law. Hansard has countless references to tired MPs saying: 'Why do we have to stay up debating this? Brussels has already decided it.'
A second principle is that unelected Commissioners decide everything. The EU has a 'Parliament', but its members have no effective powers. They cannot initiate law; this power belongs to the Commissioners. MEPs may only ex-press 'opinions', make recommendations, or perhaps delay the Commissioners' proposals. The 20 Euro Commissioners have absolute power to overrule the Parliament.
A third principle is that the new nation of Europe can only be constructed by dismantling the structures of existing nations. Already the EU has begun to act like a government. Xavier Solana acts, effectively, as the EU's Foreign Minister, representing Britain and the other EU countries in crises such as those in the Middle East and the Balkans. The EU even has its own 'national anthem'; as one of its myriad publications, Europe Today, claims: 'Did you know that all EU countries share a common anthem? It is the theme of "Ode to Joy" from the last movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony.' Christians might note that the anthem has Goethe's pagan words, unlike the Christian words of Britain's national anthem.
The EU plans to remove the rights of member countries like Britain to be separately represented at the UN and on other world bodies.
The powers of Westminster are about to be undermined still further. Several Church of England bishops have recently sponsored regional 'Constitutional Conventions'. These events create 'demand' for 'regional Parliaments' covering the whole of England, part of a long-standing plan of the EU Committee of Regions. These regional Parliaments will answer to Brussels and derive an ever-increasing share of their funding from there. Powers like health, education, employment and transport will be delegated to them. What will be left for our Houses of Parliament to do?
The Declaration and Bill of Rights, 1688/9, and the Act of Settlement, 1701, underpin the United Kingdom's Parliamentary democracy, our commitment to freedom of conscience and speech, and toleration of other religions. They established Britain, above all, as a Christian and Protestant country. The monarch was forbidden to be or marry a Roman Catholic. That constitutional settlement was followed by an unparalleled advance of the gospel over the next two centuries, as the British empire developed and missionaries took news of Christ all round the world. Continental Europe looked on enviously at the 'people of the Book'.
The Queen's promise
On June 2 1953 our Queen promised to 'the utmost of my power to maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel (and) the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law', and 'to govern the people of the United Kingdom according to their laws and customs'. The Queen was advised to break this second promise when she signed the European Communities Act 1972, that bound us to the Treaty of Rome. Prime Minister Edward Heath told the nation then that there would be 'no loss of essential national sovereignty', but freely admitted on TV in 1990 that he knew this statement was untrue. Our loss of national independence was strikingly confirmed in the trial of the Sunderland greengrocer last year for selling bananas by the pound. District Judge Morgan said in his judgment: 'A sovereign UK is part of political and legal history.'
Acquiring more power
The EU constantly plans to acquire more power. Take, for example, the conference on registering religious organisations at The Hague on June 25/26 2001, organised by the EU and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Conference papers exchanged ideas on 'best practice' in EU states on 'regulating, monitoring and controlling' cults and 'sects' (the word the papacy uses for Protestant denominations). These proposals could mean 'unregistered' religious groups being subject to significant penalties or restrictions, a process already under way in France and Belgium.
Then there is the EU scheme to create a 'harmonised' criminal justice system: 'Corpus Juris'. This would phase out trial by jury and habeas corpus - the right to be charged or released within 24 hours of arrest. These two twin 'pillars' of our judicial system are effective guarantees against excessive state power. By contrast, under 'Corpus Juris', suspects may be detained for up to six months for investigation, renewable indefinitely by three-month extensions. 'Professional judges' will replace juries. An EU Public Prosecution Service has already been established.
There is also anxiety about the 'duties' we may be subject to after we became 'EU citizens' under the 1991 Treaty of Maastricht. Even our Queen was deemed an EU citizen as John Major confirmed in a notorious Commons statement. A group of British subjects will shortly bring a 'test case' in the Courts to try to prove they remain British subjects and cannot be forced to be unwilling citizens of a Euro-state.
Analysing this progressive loss of national power, one inevitably draws comparisons with the decline of Israel and Judah after David and Solomon, which led to the nation's captivity first in Assyria and finally Babylon, and once again in the time of Christ when, as prophesied, 'the sceptre had departed from Judah' (Genesis 49.10) - as Judah had by then become incorporated into the Roman Empire.
Another European institution affecting us is the European Court of Human Rights. This was established by the European Human Rights Convention, which Britain signed in 1950, now part of British law under the Human Rights Act, 1998.
The European Court has had a baneful influence on our national life. For example, the right to 'freedom of expression' has been abused by producers of the most depraved material imaginable in films and videos. The Court always upholds their 'right' to 'freedom of expression', thus undermining British obscenity laws. The 'non-discrimination' principle has advanced homosexual 'rights' and will probably soon mean homosexuals having the 'right' to marry and adopt and foster children.
Flying the flags
Finally, let us compare the symbolism of the flags of Europe and the UK. As explained in Adrian Hilton's Principality and Power of Europe, the design of the circle with 12 stars comes from the Roman Catholic Church's interpretation of the 'woman' of Revelation 12.1 as the Virgin Mary. Statues of Mary surrounded by 12 stars abound in France, Germany and Italy, while the huge stained glass window in Strasbourg Cathedral depicts Mary, surrounded by the 12 stars, looking down over a map of Europe. By contrast, the Reformed view of the 'woman' is that she represents the church of Christ, the family of born-again believers.
The Union Jack consists of the crosses of the apostle Andrew; Patrick, the 5th-century Welsh evangelist of Ireland; and George, a Christian Roman soldier who earned his place in history by refusing to obey the Roman Emperor's edict that all must bow down and worship his statues. For this he was imprisoned, tortured and finally executed in AD 325. Three fitting emblems for a Christian nation - but for how much longer?
Tony Bennett is a self-employed rights adviser who was a candidate for the UK Independence Party in the last general election.