Do you realise Europe is in the throes of civil war?

The “civil war” is between secularism and Christianity, and Larry Siedentop is worried about it. He blames both sides for ignoring “the moral symmetry between secularism, with its civil liberty, and Christianity”.

After all, European secularism “rests on the firm belief that to be human means being a rational and moral agent, a free chooser with responsibility for one’s actions. It puts a premium on conscience rather than the blind following of rules. It joins rights with duties to others. This is also the central, egalitarian moral insight of Christianity. It can be seen in St Paul’s contrast between ‘Christian liberty’ and observance of the Jewish law. Enforced belief was, for Paul, a contradiction in terms. Strikingly, in its first centuries Christianity spread by persuasion, not by force of arms – a contrast to the early spread of Islam.”

Siedentop outlines his central concern: “What will happen to this ‘civil war’ now that Europe is faced with the challenge of Islam? Will Europeans come to understand better the moral logic that joins Christianity and civil liberty? It is important that they do so….”

So, cutting through the waffle, the basic message is that secularists and Christians should bury the hatchet in order to resist the Muslims.

Times, 27 February 2007