Monday, January 3, 2011

The future of religion in Europe.

Recently there has been a stir up in some EU states about a ban on either the crucifix in Italian schools, or the ban of the burka in France and other European countries. With constant debates and clashes of different religious groups in Europe, what does the future hold for religion?

Religion exists in the human psyche since the dawn of any human civilization. In fact it was one of the driving forces of it. It always has been the temples to our Gods that we have dedicated most of our attention and creativity.

In Europe our cathedrals are our pride and joy, a huge part of our heritage. But now Europe is changing and Christianity is not the only religion. Europeans are becoming more and more agnostic or atheists, while the new comers are still attached to their religion and their heritage. What will be the impact of these changes?

Let us have a look at how Christianity spread in Europe, which was not always in a peaceful way. In Greece it was the reason for the destruction of the ancient Greek culture and heritage. In Byzantium Greek Pagans were despised and considered as ethnics, so the Byzantine empire did whatever it could to weaken them and convert them to Christianity.

They were forcing Greeks to populate Asia Minor and Christians of what is today Turkey to move in Greek lands, in order to weaken the Greek Pagan resistance and make all the citizens to follow one religion. Christianity expanded in the rest of Europe in similar ways. Not always by voluntary conversion. Europe was in fact the first "victim" of this new religion but not the last one. Latin and North America, Australia and Africa were soon to follow after.

Ever since the Church took hold of the European continent it suppressed every freedom of expression, passion, any female or gay people's freedoms. It abused children and took over land and property, accumulating huge amounts of wealth to be able to perpetuate its dominance.

It totally destroyed the culture of ancient nations and tribes of the continents, notably the Greek which it loathed because of its man-centered ideology. For ancient Greeks, even the Gods were imperfect and had many human traits. They were in other words made on the image of humans and not the other way around, as the Christian doctrine tells us. For Christians their God could not be imperfect, envious, vengeful and with any sexual desires.

Though I accept Christianity as part of European heritage and culture, I am more than happy to see it weakened. Both the Vatican and the Eastern Orthodox Church have committed crimes on their subjects in Europe and elsewhere. It is about time for the Church to stop meddling with politics, the social life and morality of the population.

They should focus in what the Church was created for: serve the people and promote kindness in the world! Be here to answer the questions of the people about anything divine (if any) and promote peaceful and loving existence between fellow humans. I would appreciate if the Vatican stopped telling us what is right and what is wrong, especially when sexuality is concerned. They are not the best of advisers anyway after the scandals they have created.

On the new religions that are entering Europe through immigration, the majority of the problems occur with the Muslim minorities. I personally oppose any radical Islamic doctrine in Europe. It took us centuries to weaken the Catholic grip on the continent, I do not want to have the spread of another religion that wants to control the minds, life and emotions of the people in similar way.

Religion is the best propaganda ever created, the best tool of manipulation and mass "moronisation" of the public. Our ancestors worshiped nature, its forces and circles together with the human nature. It took us centuries to weaken the negative influence of the Church, why allow Radical Islam to spread in Europe? A European version of Islam is more appropriate for our continent.

The future of religion in Europe is definitely a strong secular establishment, rid of any ultra religious views either Christian or Muslim or else. Though I will always support and favor Christianity in Europe as part of our heritage and culture as it is, but I think that religion should take the place that it is ought to have: strictly humanitarian and philosophical.

The ban of the burka in France seems logical, though I would prefer if education was used to change the mentality among the Muslim population. A ban can have opposite effects. Europe is a free continent and its women should not be subjected to this form of uniform, or have any different treatment than men. A simple head scarf is adequate to express your religious beliefs and I am not against it.

As for the crucifix in schools though I am not against their removal as they are a thing of the past, I will accept the decision of a nation or community to keep them in schools as part of their heritage. Lets leave it to the discretion of each community.

The teaching of any religious subject in schools should either be removed, or have the form of an open discussion between the children and the teachers, not be something that the kids must learn and follow in a young age.

No need to segregate our youths in different religious schools, either Christian, Muslim or Jewish. Why separate children from a young age and how do we expect the communities to integrate in the future, if we segregate our kids in their education? We need free thinking Europeans, creative and secular. Not obedient, uneducated and ignorant.

The human resources of a country or a region, is the most valuable and irreplaceable. So an educated, creative and secular workforce can be a great asset, better than any oppressed, dependent and narrow-minded one.

Europe and Russia.

Since the Cold War we have learned to see our big neighbor as a threat, as the constant bogey man that is out there to take over Europe, and the reason why we desperately need USA's "protection"!

While most Eastern European states will agree, since they had the misfortune of being under the Soviet rule for five decades, let us re-examine our relationship with Russia as many things have changed and are continuing to change in the European continent.

First of all, the carving of Europe was agreed between western and eastern powers in Crimea. Russia, America and Britain sat down and put down the barriers of the Iron Curtain. It is not as if the Russians simply took whatever they wanted. The borders were drawn where the troops of East and West met, so for the sake of avoiding a prolonged war or diplomatic struggle they compromised and "gave" Eastern Europe to the Soviets.

Even if we all agree that the Soviet regime was a cruel one and brought a lot of oppression to the countries it occupied, was the western part of Europe really the most fortunate? Was capitalism always right and fare on European people? If we judge on what is going on now in Europe, then many will agree that though it is much preferred than communism, it has serious side effects that have never been dealt with.

The second thing I want to mention is that Europe is not the same place anymore. It is uniting (I am not saying united because we have far to go to reach that goal), and if this trend continues and happens correctly, we won't technically need America's "protection". Europe must form its own military defense and take in its own hands its foreign policies. In my opinion NATO should be abandoned and Europe should form with Russia, Canada and USA a co-operative block in trade, defense and other policies.

But the difference with the current situation is that Europe should be equal to the USA and Russia, not the little sidekick that the two former superpowers are seeing it as. I do not see any good in being told in which alliances and wars we must participate, from where we must buy our air-crafts and other weapons and so on. Besides, either we like it or not, we are heavily dependent on Russia for our oil and gas. Why can't we have better relations with them?

Europe is co-operating with Russia already in many fields. ESA for example, the European Space Agency is closely working together with Russia in future space explorations. Why this co-operation can't be expanded in many other spheres? Europe and Russia have so many things to achieve if they come closer, and USA should not interfere. Besides, we are the ones that have borders with them, (Finland, the Baltic states and Poland) and we are the ones that rely on them for our energy.

One may ask, can the Russians be trusted after the recent history between us and their corrupt political system? Well if Europe really unites and develops as one, I say they will have no choice. We are their best customers in energy, we are over 500 million people, while they are less than 150 and many Russians already reside in many European states and in some cases they are EU citizens (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia).

Their records on human rights, gay rights and freedom of speech are also bad. But that does not stop the global corporations from investing in China and moving thousands of European jobs over there. Do we force all other regions of the world to abide by our own values in order to do business with them or forming relations? If so then we should reconsider our relations with half of the world.

To conclude, I am not going to go as far and say as Mr Berlusconi did, that Russia should become an EU member. I believe that Russia must stay independent and Europe should come closer to it. We need each other, and we can achieve a lot together. Russia with USA and Europe together with Canada perhaps can form a formidable block that will promote prosperity and security to all its member states and the ones allied to it. It is time to leave the cold war behind us and enter a new phase in our relationship with our neighbors.

They are after all European, and have offered a lot to the European culture and heritage. From artists like Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky to their participation in both big wars of the continent, the unpleasant Soviet regime that spread in eastern Europe, their participation in the Greek struggle for liberation against the Turks, their meddling in the Balkans. Their involvement was not always pleasant or fair, but was it Britain's France's or even America's?

Have them in our side could mean a more positive and constructive Russian involvement in European affairs, keep alienating them and we should be thinking finding alternative oil and gas resources as soon as possible. Besides, isn't the Cold War over already?