Invocatio Dei and the European Constitution

In progressive liberal circles, the demand that the Preamble to the Constitution of the European Union include a reference to God and/or the "Christian Roots" of Europe has been met with derision, even contempt. Such a reference, it is said, would run afoul of the common European constitutional tradition of state neutrality in matters of religion. It would also offend against Europe's political commitment to a tolerant, multicultural society. But the opposite is true: a reference to God is both constitutionally permissible and politically imperative.

Constitutionally, European nations display characteristic richness. As a matter of positive constitutional law, all members of the EU, under the tutelage of the European Convention on Human Rights, are committed to the principle of the "Agnostic or Impartial State," which guarantees both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Across Europe, there is a remarkable degree of homogeneity-even if on some borderline issues such as religious headgear in schools or crucifixes, different EU member states balance differently the delicate line between freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

But when it comes to constitutional symbolism and iconography, Europe is remarkably heterogeneous. At one extreme you find countries like France, whose constitution defines the State as secular ( laique ). At the other extreme are countries like Denmark and the UK, where there is an established state religion.

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