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Sunday, January 22, 2017
EU told: "don't mention God"
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┬áPlans to have a reference to God in the draft constitution of the European Union have been dropped - after pressure from secular lobby groups. The "praesidium", or steering committee, drawing up the text of the proposed EU constitution decided yesterday not to mention God in the opening articles. However, advocates of a religious reference in the constitution have not given up their campaign. Supporters include the former French president ValÚry Giscard d'Estaing, who is chairing the convention, and recently visited the Vatican; Ireland's ex-Taoiseach, John Bruton, and delegates from Germany, Italy Poland and Slovakia. Arguing that a constitution should reflect the continent's religious heritage, they have come up with a number of different proposals. One group suggested a form of words adapted from the Polish constitution, saying that: "The Union's values include the values of those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty as well as those who do not share such a belief but respect these universal values arising from other sources." John Bruton, who pointed out that God is mentioned in the first sentence of the Irish constitution, told the Irish Independent: "for many people, including myself, our outlook is derived from the fact that I believe in God, so why shouldn't this be recognised?" He said: "This would be a reference to the spiritual dimension of our lives. We don't just exist for material ends and there is something superior to humanity." The text of the article, which will be published today, is expected to refer to a union "founded on the values of respect, of human dignity, democracy, the state of law, of liberty and the rights of man, values which are common to the member states and to the societies" of the EU. Britain was among the member states that backed a secular approach and is likely to be happy with today's text. One diplomat argued: "There were a lot of objections to a reference to God. If you have to keep Christian, Muslims, agnostics and atheists happy, it is all a little difficult."
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