A Christian defense of Brexit

Todd Huizinga

Todd Huizinga
June 28, 2016

As a utopian political project, the European Union ignores what Christians recognize as human fallibility.

June 28, 2016

Strikingly enough, the European flag pictured above this post is an explicit reference to the Woman of the Apocalypse (or as Catholics such as the people who proposed this design would say, the Virgin Mary).

Calling the European Union "inherently non Christian" sounds like a harsh projection of the current American debate upon European affairs. Perhaps, as the author argues, there's currently a non Christian line of thought in the EU institutions, but that would hardly be a fair characterization of the project's history. Not anecdotally, a beatification procedure has been started for some of the founding fathers of the European Community.

None of this precludes a Christian case for Brexit – but I'd argue that the points above might not be the ones that would match the concerns of European Christians.

Kris Van Engen
June 29, 2016

In what way does the EU ignore human fallibility?
What rights defined by the European Convention on Human Rights does the author oppose as non-christian?

I understand the resistance to give local authority to a supranationalist entity but I find the examples of abortion and LGBTQ rights quite unhelpful since, on both of these issues, the ECHR only requires countries to be faithful to their own laws which are determined by their own people.

Since the author is writing as an Acton staff member I would find it more helpful to read about the dangers of the EU within the framework of subsidiarity and the responsibility of governments to cooperate at various levels in order to maintain the law and preserve rights.

The EU's ability to define human rights is limited. The EU is regional not global model with some of its intent being to give themselves leverage over other regions.

I understand the fallibility of human nature but as a Christian I also recognize the fallibility of local Christian authorities--which is a danger that this article seems to ignore.

On a positive note this article does implicitly highlight how extremely important it is for the institutional church to exert its voice in civil society.

Ronald VandenBurg
June 29, 2016

Christians should share in the "leave" movement? Christians should instead celebrate when diverse groups of people are working together and finding common interests. Separation and isolation are not how we are created to be. Too many times in our global history and our church history have people separated from a larger group because of disagreement over smaller issues. We are one is not a utopian goal but a Christian one.

Christopher Curzon
June 29, 2016

"The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart."
-- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This article is misguided from its premise. It directs attention on the British exit from the European Union, but fails to point the spotlight where the problems really must be addressed -- toward the human heart.

And thus the wayward heart is tempted, by this very article, to continue believing that spiritual problems demand political solutions.

They don't. We must pay attention to our own obedience, first and foremost, and then proper human governance will follow.

Doug Vande Griend
June 29, 2016

In Reply to Kris Van Engen (comment #28521)
Exactly how does this article " implicitly highlight how extremely important it is for the institutional church to exert its voice in civil society" ????

Lexa Avocat
June 29, 2016

Christianity has been used to justify any number of human horrors: human slavery, laws which maintained racial discrimination and segregation, failing to educate girls / women, limiting the rights of girls / women, limiting career and educational options for girls / women, cruelty to members of the LGBTQ communities, intimate partner violence, to name a few.

This author is far too comfortable for the white, Christian, mail privilege which the laws of the EU works against and which typical, Western, "non-liberating" Christianity has worked towards for so long. To be honest, considering the practical truths of the reign of the "Christian" policies which the author prefers, I'd be happier if the US set more of them aside, following the EU's example.

June 30, 2016

I never understand this kind of article because it's really just taking a recent hot political issue and trying to put some kind of Christian slant or perspective to it that's not really there. These decisions are mode for Economic reasons alone pretty much. It's not really about "human horrors" or "civil societies" I promise you. The comments I read are just kind of crazy because I think we try and put some kind of additional slant to it that's not there either. Not trying to be a smart guy or disrespect any of you, but remember the world and these country's run on money and that's what they are trying to protect and preserve. What was the first result from Brexit, that's right lets look at what the stock market did.

Todd Huizinga
June 30, 2016

I appreciate the interest that the commenters show in my article. Thank you all for that.

First, thank you specifically to Doug Vande Griend, who might be more sympathetic to my article than the other commenters and who seems less prone to make peripheral generalizations about the EU than most of the other commenters.

What strikes me regarding most of the commenters is their very superficial knowledge of the EU. That's regrettable, because generalizations about "people working together" and "diversity" and "white, Christian, mail (sic) privilege" tell us little about the EU. Rather, they are projections of the commenters' wishful thinking regarding what they'd like the EU to be.

meduse is correct that some of the key "founding fathers" of the post-WWII project of European integration were Catholic Christians, and there is ample evidence that Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer were acting consciously out of a Catholic vision for Europe when they kick-started European integration in the late 1940s and early 1950s. My very short answer to that is that Christians often are mistaken in their application of Christian principles in this world, and these founders of what became the EU were mistaken, in my view. They didn't foresee the unintended consequences.

Here are some thoughts on Kris Van Engen's comments. He takes a very technocratic approach in focusing on the ECHR, by which I assume he means the European Convention on Human Rights and not the European Court of Human Rights. I did not take that approach for three reasons.

First, the ECHR is irrelevant to the fact that the EU cares deeply about abortion rights, the rights of the "autonomous" child and LGBTI (or LBGT,or LGBTQ, or whatever) rights and gender identity, and that the EU acts on that preoccupation. That the EU cares deeply, that this EU concern flows out of a decidedly post-Christian world view, and finally that the EU is doing all it can to ensure the global realization of these rights, is apparent from a look at almost all of the EU's myriad pronouncements and activities concerning human rights in recent years at the UN. (See, for example, EU declarations concerning the 2015-2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).) When I say "EU" here, I'm referring not just to one EU institution, but to statements and activities of all three of the major Brussels EU institutions -- the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

The second reason I do not take Van Engen's ECHR-based approach is because the ECHR entered into force in 1953. A lot has happened since then, including the establishment of the European Union, which took place in 1993, exactly 40 years after the ECHR. The EU did not exist when the ECHR took effect.

The third reason is that the ECHR is not an EU document. The European Court of Human Rights is an institution of the Council of Europe, which is distinct from the EU, and the European Convention on Human Rights is a Council of Europe agreement. For a comprehensive EU document on human rights, I refer Mr. Van Engen to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which became legally binding in the EU in 2009. A caveat: like the ECHR, the Charter is a very broad, all-encompassing statement on human rights. Thus, it tells us little of the EU's day-to-day human rights policy.

Regarding the interrelatedness of the EU human rights policy and the EU's global governance agenda, I again recommend reading EU statements regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, some of which I quote in my book. A careful and objective reading of most of those documents reveals the almost unbounded and utopian EU ambitions for global governance, ambitions that are truly difficult to reconcile with the Christian view of human corruptibility and sin and the folly of attempting, as fallen humankind, to build a brave new world through politics.

That brings me to a final point. My article was an attempt to boil down into 500 words an argument that I make in four chapters in my book. I did not completely succeed, especially in that there are nuances in the book that do not appear in the article. Sorry about that. If you'd like to read the full argument, read my book, The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe. It includes a chapter on women's rights, one on children's rights, another on LGBT rights, and a chapter on how the religious difference between the U.S. and the EU influence differences in American and European views on the role of government.

Thanks all, for your interest.

Gordon Raboud
June 30, 2016

This article has shown insight that most others miss. A good job was done in presenting succinct food for thought on a very complex subject. I have watched, for 45 years, the EU become the political and economic power to fulfilling the predictions of Revelations. The monarchy will pass with the Queen and Bretix will pass and Britan will once again be part of the EU. The one world order, which already has a good foothold will continue to gain power. In the last 10 years I have seen the skyrocketing disdain for Christian, Jews and the values we hold to be absolutes. Looking at what has happened to Europe in just the last 20 years we can see that in another 45 years, it will be horrific as the great tribulation descends on us. “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21)

July 1, 2016

I think the subject title was a bit misleading in that the Judeo-Christian perspective on human personhood was not the reason why Brexit occurred. In other words, Brexit did not happen because Britain wanted to maintain their Judeo-Christian values.

About the substance of the article about the deconstruction of the person - It is a global reality with its most tangible expression in the EU. The intense emphasis on sexual identity of human beings in North America is another expression of this deconstruction of the person in that the sexual dimension, was discussed as though it was the core of a human person. I mentioned this to make a point as opposed to starting an unrelated topic.

The deconstruction of a human being is a fruitful area that Christians can address. Without using religious language, an integrated human being remains to be ideal because it is inherent in the nature of a human being. Of course, this reality is grounded in the reality of our Triune God. With wisdom and sensitivity to the underlying issues, we can speak life on the topic.

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