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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Constitution referendum

At last, Airstrip One is to have a referendum on the European Constitution. I get a bit fed up when our elected politicians (in a representative democracy, please note) ask the people to decide something. This is particularly unfortunate when the vast majority of the press is in the hands of people like R. Murdoch whose power would be curtailed by closer association with the European Union.

The fundamental problem is that the people with all the power and money (or should that be all the money and power?) are in a strong position to persuade the non-cognoscenti that Europe is A Bad Thing. You know: Europe means square bananas, wogs by the boatload, and Chirac for Queen (I exaggerate, but only just). Don’t we elect our politicians to be better informed than the man on the Docklands omnibus? (Although, if you read my post for June 19th last, you may be excused for thinking the point a trifle moot.)

I can forgive a European Constitution a lot: square bananas and the abolition of the Monarchy included. However, I have some difficulty accepting the following tosh:
Article I-51 Status of churches and non-confessional organisations
1 The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.
[Respects? - Pshaw!]
2. The Union equally respects the status of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.

3. Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.
I would just about accept this passage, given a suitable modification:
Dialogue with Churches and religious organisations should only be permitted if, in every case, for every church/religious representative, a secular thinker of note were to be present. This would mean that if, for example, an Anglican and a Catholic were to be consulted, two prominent secular thinkers would be present to put a countervailing viewpoint.
What must be opposed is the influence of a group of religious people, from different faiths, being counterbalanced by only one - or, worse still, no - secular voice. It’s bad enough having the lunatics being consulted at all. To have them virtually unopposed is retrogressive. Aren’t we supposed to be more enlightened, now?

I have read quickly through the Constitution (read the whole pdf document here) and the rest of it looks singularly inoffensive. Is this religious nonsense enough to vote against it? Please tell me. Mrs T.

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