|Mamber states of the European Union|
In an astonishingly arrogant move, a small, highly organised and well-financed group of Christian fundamentalists, posing as a European citizen's initiative, is seeking to exploit and subvert the democratic process. In the EU a petition with over 1 million authentic signatures collected across at least eight member states must be considered by the European Commission (the legislative body of the EU) for possible legislation.
If the Commission agrees with this petition, embryo stem-cell research will be illegal, and something having its origins in primitive superstition will be mandatory on all 28 current, and all future EU member states. This is because Christians believe a magic entity called a 'soul' enters a zygote at conception and thus a cell, or small group of cells, which could not possibly have independent existence in that state, is a fully human individual with full human rights. No evidence of the 'soul' has ever been found.
This superstition, which has its origins in the infancy of our species, views a reification of the entity they assume to inhabit our bodies and to be looking out at the world through the 'windows' of our eyes, as the real person, not the body in which it finds itself, and thus entitlement to human rights is conditional on this magic thing. Christians believe this thing survives after the death of the body. Since the body is a mere vehicle for this 'soul', it has no value in it's own right. This superstition led Christians in earlier times to happily kill people for such imaginary crimes as witchcraft, having the wrong religion or even questioning the authority of the Church hierarchy, believing that they were liberating this 'soul' from a corrupt body or a body which had been possessed by evil demons, thus turning an abhorrent crime against humanity into a moral crusade for the benefit of the ruling class who designated the 'crime' of doubt and dissent as a mortal sin in the first place.
Curiously, they seem to have turned this convenient view of human life on its head and now claim it as a reason not to destroy the zygote or the early stage of embryonic development, the blastocyst, claiming as a reason, with typical hypocrisy, the human rights they denied people in earlier times when they had the power to deny them.
This fundamentalist group, which also attracts support from conservative Muslims in the EU, is exploiting the fact that the recent expansion of the EU into the former Eastern Europe, Balkans and Baltic states has incorporated a large number of conservative Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians into the EU.
The EU, which is a federation of autonomous states each having its own laws and legal system within an overarching EU framework of consumer protection, environmental protection and employment rights, had the current compromise policy: the union does not sponsor research that is illegal in the country where it would take place. In addition, the commission never funds research activities that create human embryos for research purposes. The fundamentalist want to impose the same blanket policy onto everyone, regardless of the level of support for their superstition in the local population.
They are seeking to exploit an unrelated European Court of Justice ruling on the patenting of the human genome. In the case known as Brüstle v. Greenpeace, the court had ruled that the processes and products of human embryo stem-cell research are not patentable. The fundamentalist argue that this "indicates that fecundation is the beginning of human life and in the name of human dignity excludes the patenting of any procedure that involves or supposes the destruction of a human embryo."
There is little doubt that, if they succeed with this, they will seek to have abortion, contraception, same-sex marriages, even divorce outlawed, opening up the way to an all-out attack on women's rights and equality legislation and even the compulsory teaching of biblical creationism as science in schools, and against the strong post-war trend in Europe away from religion and towards secular humanism.
The European Union, unlike the USA, has no overarching constitution, mandatory on all member states. Although freedom of religion is enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention, to which all new members must subscribe in their national laws, and the EU is deliberately secular in it legislation and organization, there is no secular constitution as such and so nothing equivalent to the US 'Establishment Clause'.
Perhaps it's time we had a secular constitution and the equivalent of a Supreme Court to enforce it and to protect our rights against the religious fundamentalists who have never gotten over the withdrawal of what they see as their divine right to govern us. One of the reasons for the foundation of the EU in the first place was the belief that there had to be a better way to conduct affairs in Europe than how they had been conducted for the previous 1900 years, with the obscenities of warring factions and nation states based on different religious cults, priest kings and robber bishops that had been the norm, culminating in the bestialities of two world wars with deaths numbered in the tens of millions, each side being urged on and blessed by the clerics who assured them they were doing God's work.
The secular humanism of EU has given us two full generations of peace for the first time in European history. The last major war in Western Europe was fought by our children's grandparents. War in Europe is unthinkable now and is receding into a folk memory. We are now better than that.
They must not be allowed to take our Europe and our grandchildren's future peace and prosperity away from us.
'via Blog this'