Don’t ignore Christian roots of Europe, says Dutch Reformed party


European Union

Lieke Pippel, RD

Charlemagne is part of the Christian roots of Europe. Photo Wikimedia

Europe, back to the roots! That is the point made in a new study of the Dutch Reformed party (SGP) in the European Parliament. The inspiration for the study comes from a “very secular” working environment of MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen in Brussels.

Harm-Jan Rouwendal, a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen, sees how easy it is to criticise European cooperation. “But what do you want instead”, Rouwendal asks. He wants to answer that question from a Christian perspective. Therefore, he wrote a memorandum for the SGP party in Brussels, called “Europe, back to the roots!”

The central point in the paper is how the image of man in Europe evolved and how the realisation that man is created in God’s image is often lost. On Friday, the first copy of the study will be handed over to SGP national party leader Kees van der Staaij.

How likely is it that Europe will act on your appeal?

MEP Ruissen: “A change of heart and mind is needed. It is difficult to change the situation with the current majority in the European Parliament. At the same time, I see an absolute added value in raising your voice about the image of man. When you make your voice heard, it can help slow down things or, on the contrary, put positive things in motion.”

*According to the study, there is less focus on the positive basis for European politics within the SGP. That is a void this study wants to fill. Why is it important that there is more attention for positivity? *

Rouwendal: “As Christians, you stand alone more and more. Therefore, cooperation with other Christians in Europe is needed. It is in that case good to know from what starting point you do politics.”


Ruissen: “We see that the influence of the European Union increases. This is also spreading to more areas. We are not always happy with that. However, it is part of reality that the EU is interfering on multiple areas in which Biblical norms and values are relevant.”

What about people within the SGP party who are not open to this more positive approach?

Rouwendal: „Ïf you look back at SGP history, you can see that there has always been hesitant about European cooperation. On the other hand, the SGP has been represented in the European Parliament for years. It is legitimate to participate in European politics for peace, justice, and prosperity. Biblical values are indispensable in this. It would help if you had cooperation as a small country. It is helpful to work together. It is vital to know where you come from to do that.”

Ruissen: “The SGP party is very critical about the EU and closer cooperation. We will continue to be critical. It is saddening to see how Christian values are treated within the EU. That is an additional argument to stay critical of European cooperation and the interference of the EU in multiple areas. It shows we are in Brussels and Strasbourg for a reason. There are reasons to make our voices heard and show the image of man in a positive light.”

Rouwendal: “Values are important, even when someone argues that it is unnecessary to be active in European politics. Certain values are influencing our work now as well.”

Ruissen: “Exactly.”

In the study, there is a short mention of Christophobia. What do you perceive of that?

Ruissen: “That is something that I perceive, yes. Not everywhere, of course, but sometimes you see it. The recent guidelines of the European Commission about inclusive language, for example. There was even a proposal in that guide to substitute the word ‘Christmas holidays’ because you should not refer to Christmas anymore. After a lot of criticism, the Commission withdrew the plan. That is a form of an anti-Christian sentiment.”

Is it not a positive sign that the Commission had to withdraw the proposal?

Ruissen: “Thankfully, there are correction mechanisms. We should be grateful that these mechanisms still exist. It also shows that it is worthwhile to raise your voice.”

The report states: “Unfortunately, Christian Democratic parties have neglected the traditions of the Christian founders of the European project.” Explain.

Rouwendal: “There are a lot of differences between parties. However, within the Christian Democratic parties, the concept of human dignity is explained autonomously. The realisation that man is created in God’s image often seems to be missing.”

Ruissen: “We should not view everybody as the same, especially not in the Christian Democratic European People’s Party (EPP). The EPP is very diverse. I have a lot of contacts within the People’s Party and work very closely with like-minded MEP’s.

What you do see is that the EPP is struggling enormously with, for example, pro-life issues. There is considerable division among parties on subjects like these. Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of national delegations that put individual autonomy first.”


Surely this division can also be seen in other political groups, such as the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR)?

Ruissen: “That is correct; there is diversity within the ECR as well. I do notice, however, that the ECR is a party that holds and cherishes Christian values.

The great added value of this study is that it goes into depth about the Christian image of man. I can imagine that we will use the study in the ECR for a good conversation about what our vision of man is and the consequences of those views. We might get further than the sometimes superficial discussions.”

This article has been translated by CNE.news and was previously published in Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad on December 12th, 2021.



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