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Answer to Steve

Reader comment on item: Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism
in response to reader comment: Cartoons and double-standards

Submitted by Gabriel Grosso (Italy), Feb 8, 2006 at 02:32

"Without a specific understanding of the most potent Christian worldview (Conventional Theology- Calvinism- Dutch Reform) that forms the roots of western culture, it will not be enough to speak on behalf of 'western culture' ".

Comment: the European Union is the most secular union in the world. Most Europeans don't even know about Conventional Theology, Calvinism and Dutch Reform. Europe is secular because we have always been too afraid of offending others. We have always seen religion in a negative light and insisted on the separation between church and state. That would be fine if all cultures accepted the separation between church and state.

But the cartoon controversy proves that that is not the case. Middle-Eastern culture does not make any distinction between religion and state. Therefore, a secular Europe cannot work in a non-secular world. The Danish cartoon controversy proves this point. If a cartoonist had made fun of Jesus Christ, we would not be talking about this now.

Of course, Europeans are not going to revert to religion in a few weeks. But we need to rethink our policies on state secularism. In any case, European secularism discriminates against western religions, be them Catholics, Protestants and Jews. Steve, if you live in the United States, you will find this difficult to understand. We Europeans have always thought that religion meant trouble, that a secular world would be better than a religious one. The European Union has passed a number of laws to make sure that religious minorities didn't feel offended or discriminated against. The European Parliament must be the only assembly in the world which does not have a place of worship. But, the Muhammad cartoon controversy shows that a secular Europe is no longer possible and we need to draw the consequences from that. We have gone out of our way to make sure nobody felt offended and everybody felt at home in Europe. We thought that secularism was the solution to all problems. It isn't. It will take time, it won't happen overnight, but we must understand where we went wrong.

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