Europeans despise religion
Anne Applegate on religion in Europe: 'It's not that Europeans think the church is out of touch or backward, but that they--or rather an influential group of intellectuals and politicians--heartily despise everything about it. Some of this was visible yesterday. Within hours of the Pope's election a BBC profile had already speculated that he had honed his rhetorical skills in Nazi Germany (he deserted the Wehrmacht at age 15) while some on the German left were describing his election as a "catastrophe." The Catholic scholar George Weigel calls this phenomenon "Christophobia" (a phrase he borrowed from J.H.H. Weiler, who happens to be Jewish). Weigel began investigating the phenomenon after being struck by the European Union's fierce resistance to any mention of the continent's Christian origins in the draft versions of the new, and still unratified, European constitution. In his recent book, "The Cube and the Cathedral," Weigel lists the many sources of this very powerful, very profound and very European--as opposed to American--antipathy. He cites, among other sources, the experience of the Holocaust, which many European intellectuals concluded was the logical outcome of Christian bigotry through the centuries; the disappointment still felt among European leftists over the collapse of European communism, which many "blame" in part on the church; the legacy of the 1968 rebellions, which, there as here, opposed traditional authority of all kinds; and Europeans' tendency to associate the church with the "right" in general and Christian Democratic political parties in particular. To this I would add one more: Europe's present associations of "religiosity" with "America," and in particular with George W. Bush, who still scores reliably high negatives in opinion polls across the continent.' More.