Fundamentalist challenges to European citizenship

JIM LO SCALZO

Ellen Staniszewski prays before the start of the sixth annual Value Voters Summit in Washington, DC, USA, 14 September 2012. The Summit is organized by a collection of Christian political action groups and hosts a steady stream of conservative political speakers and activists.

Is fundamentalism compatible with Western Democracy?


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Fundamentalism poses a threat to Europe, as has become abundantly clear. However, there is always a fine balance between the private sphere and the public sphere. The question of “a balance” is increasingly difficult and is on the top of a political agenda due to terrorism, but also immigration.

A common response to this challenge is investing in education to fight fundamentalism, besides taking apolitical stand. But, there is an issue that is less often discussed, namely Christian fundamentalism.

schools

Education can harness lack of tolerance without being considered terrorist.

It appears that there is a series of schools in the U.K, Ireland, and the Netherlands (ACE schools) favor creationism over the scientifically established evolutionary theory, even as part of biology. A biology book reads as follows: “although man’s characteristics are unique, evolutionists still insist that man descended from apes.”

These schools also teach that homosexuality is unnatural and that women must submit to men, the Independent reports.  One of the textbooks used in these schools defines homosexuality as follows: “having unnatural sexual feelings towards one of the same sex… Homosexual activity is another of man’s corruptions of God’s plan.” Another extract on gender relations reads: “the wife is to obey, respect and submit to the leadership of her husband, serving as a helper to him… She is available all times day or night.”

Founded in the 1980s, the mission statement of these 30 schools is to offer individualized, Christian-centered education that will “galvanize” faith. This makes part of the Baptism movement in the US that places an emphasis on individualistic self-salvation. Children spent a big part of their education working “independently,” that is, in supervised isolation.

Studies in these schools do not lead to a formal degree such as GCSEs or A-levels; instead graduates acquire an International Certificate of Christian Education. Apparently, the government watchdog (Ofsted) has cleared these schools for operation through various reports.

These schools do not exist as moral and social islets.

politics

Political parties and movements can promote discrimination and even forms of socialized violence, and be tolerated.

In 2001, the United Nations declared that the Netherlands is discriminating against women for accepting the party within its parliamentary ranks that does not allow for female members. The Dutch party SGP does not allow women to stand for office, although they can be members, and has taken a position against homosexuality; SGP also promotes the idea of a theocratic state.

policies

Interestingly, this cluster of ideas regarded as deeply “Christian” have been used in Germany to signal out Muslims as compatible or incompatible with “German” or “European” culture.

In 2006 the German state of Baden-Württemberg introduced citizenship tests, devising a particular Muslim test to examine whether applicants were “compatible” with German and European values. Muslims were tested for their tolerance of Jews, homosexuals, and women. The test was linked to residence in time, for application for naturalization. The “test” asked parents how they would react if their son told them he was gay and whether they would allow their daughter to take part in swimming lessons. The policy was spearheaded by the Heribert Rech, a Christian Democrat and Minister of Interior of the German State.

(Der Spiegel, The Independent)

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