No wonder some Christians are against the EU Constitution

26 April 2005

No wonder some Christians are against the EU Constitution

Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner is, as a Christian, is in favour of the Constitution and is disappointed that the small political party, the Christian Union, is against. SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel does not share Mr Donner's feelings: he finds it quite understandable that many Christians want nothing to do with the proposal.

According to Mr Donner, writing in this paper (Nederlands Dagblad) a few days ago, the 'C' in the name of his party, the CDA (Christian Democrats) implies that Christians will be voting for the European Constitution. This is a remarkable assertion in view of the fact that many Christians, including members of the CDA, have every reason to vote against.

St Paul

Minister Donner defended his statement before Parliament with a reference to St Paul and took as his starting point the idea “that we need government in order to escape the powerlessness in which we would otherwise find ourselves.” Of course, Paul in his Epistle to the Romans is clear about obedience to authority and states that “the powers that be are ordained by God.” The government is in this worldview a servant of God, dedicated to the good.

If that was all there was to be said of the matter, it would be impossible to explain why so many Christians are against the Constitution. Not only are the Christian Union and (another small Christian party) the SGP actively campaigning against the Constitution, but according to the poll conducted by Maurice de Hond on 6 April, 42% of CDA voters will vote No on June 1. Are these Christians as errant as myself or have they, on the basis of a conviction as religious as the minister's own, decided that there are good reasons not to want this Constitution?

The proposed Constitution is an important step on the way to a United States of Europe. Yet do we really, with no European state and no 'European people', need a Constitution? There is, moreover, no European government and Mr Donner's reference to Paul's ideas regarding authority is therefore misplaced. In 'A missed chance for Europe', the Christian Union senator Eimert Van Middelkoop clearly states that acceptance of the Constitution “would mark a decisive orientation towards the political primacy of the Union over the right to independence of the member states.” Happily, this is still not quite the case. The only true authority recognised in our country is that of our government, operating under the constraint of Parliament's lower house. As far as I can see, this remains for the time being the case, and no further competences should be transferred from the member states to the seriously defective democracy in Brussels.


A second major objection to this Constitution concerns its neoliberal character and the trust it places in the market as a regulatory mechanism. The huge, socially divisive executive salaries paid, for example, by electricity companies, are a direct consequence of the liberalisation of the market. The CDA is to be congratulated on its criticism of these inflated salaries, but it would be better if it were willing to identify and name their cause. This Constitution paves the way for further liberalisation, especially, if one reads Article 147, of service industries. In France there is something approaching a popular uprising against plans by ex-Commissioner Bolkenstein to liberalise this sector. Oddly enough there has been little discussion of this in the Netherlands, but it is still not too late.


A final important reason to vote against this Constitution can be found in the passage concerning military affairs. This states that member states must gradually improve their military capacity and that a European Defence Agency shall be established. A newly created Minister for Foreign Affairs will have the power to propose the dispatch of military forces. In this way, a new military structure will be established, paralleling NATO. The European Parliament will have no influence on the leadership of this structure, having no more than the right of “consultation” in relation to these aspects of the common security and defence policy.

In my frequent cooperation with organisations such as Kerk en Vrede (Church and Peace), Pax Christi and the International Christian Union, I seldom meet Christians who support the creation of uncontrollable military organisations which have the power and the resources to launch violent actions. For Christians there is thus every reason to vote against this Constitution. Mr Donner, as I have demonstrated, uses a reference to the words of St Paul in a wholly misleading way.

This is translated from an article which first appeared in the the Nederlands Dagblad, 26 April 2005.

You are here