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Christians Contemplate Their Future In Secular Europe
Former Dutch defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop said there was an “anti-Christian mood” in EU institutions
11/26/2011 EU (Christian Today)-Christians have been told they must find a framework for promoting their beliefs if they are to confront the challenge of aggressive secularisation and the erosion of Christian values across all spheres of life.
Opening the Beyond Individualism conference on Friday, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said it was “amazing” that a Christian nurse in Britain today could be suspended for offering to pray for a patient, when it was Christians who had set in place many of the institutions and public services now taken for granted.
He warned that the Christian values inherent in Europe’s heritage have been eroded by a process of “aggressive secularisation” that Christians must understand if they are to challenge it.
While politicians offer “thin” values like respect and tolerance, the bishop said such “political mantras” were “not enough for society to be cohesive”.
Instead, Christianity presents European nations with a means to move beyond the individualism they have come to be characterised by, he argued.
“To have individualism without any sense of mutuality is very damaging for society,” he said.
Bishop Nazir-Ali took issue with attempts to detach concepts like equality and diversity from their Christian roots, arguing that they could only be properly understood from the vantage point of Christianity, with its emphasis on the common origins of all human beings and their intrinsic value as God’s creation.
Diversity, he said, should be understood as “Christian hospitality”, rather than multi-culturalism, which has “led to the segregation and isolation of communities”, he maintained.

Reflecting concern over recent court cases involving Christians, he said it was “unacceptable” that the law had “ignored” the rights of Christians.
“We must respect the autonomy of public law but we also need to argue for law to respect conscience,” he told the conference.
Social critic and author Dr Os Guinness said that one of the greatest issues facing the whole world today was how to live with our differences.
He said the emergence of a global public square meant that Christians need to speak increasingly with one “constructive” voice.
Rather than contradict civil liberty, Dr Guinness said that strong religious convictions could complement it.
However, Christians must examine some of the “unwise” responses they have made in the past “to make sure we do better”.

“We must be seen to be fighting for the common good.”

He advocated a “civil” public square where the right for everyone to speak is tempered by a “responsibility” towards everyone else.
He warned, however, that Christians in Europe are currently too “ill-prepared” to engage and “persuade” effectively in public life.
“We need to educate a citizenry that loves Jesus but also understands the challenges of public life,” he said.
“We’re good at fighting evil but we’re not so good at thinking of constructive ways to address the challenges.”
He added: “There is an opportunity to make a breakthrough in thinking that could be a model for the entire world.”
Former Dutch defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop spoke of a prevailing “anti-Christian mood” in the European Union.

He said there was a need to “reorganise” society across Europe according to core Christian values.
“Our continent is still in need of the Gospel,” he said.
“But it is easy to criticise. Criticising is one thing but our responsibility is to use those [Christian] values to build a better Europe.”
Continuing on from this, Christian Concern’s Andrea Minichiello Williams said there was a need for Christians to work together on a framework to safeguard Christian values at the European level.
She warned that a “tyrannical absolutism” had come to characterise public life and that Christian views were struggling to be heard in public discourse.
Mrs Williams said it was not enough for Christians to advocate values but that their Christian basis must be made clear.
“When you take Jesus out of the public discourse, nobody knows what the backdrop is,” she said.

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