On October 2000, in the sunny French city of Nice, the 105-member European Convention drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Drawn up by the committee of former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the document only referred to the "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe". The European Parliament had rejected a proposal from Christian Democrat MEPs and Pope John Paul II, to include in the text Europe's "Judaeo-Christian roots".
In the 75,000-word Charter there is not a single mention of Christianity. Since then, a wind of aggressive secularism has pervaded all EU policies. The European Court of Human Rights, for example, asked to remove crucifixes from classrooms: they were allegedly a threat to democracy.
The city of Nice -- where exactly sixteen years ago Europe's rulers decided to eliminate the Judeo-Christian roots from the (never approved) EU Constitution -- has just witnessed the bloody manifestation of another religion: radical Islam. "Nature abhors a vacuum": This is the truth to which our élites do not want to listen; Islamism rises from what William McGurn, George W. Bush's speechwriter, called "Europe's feckless secularism".
You can see it not only in Europe's churches, three-quarters empty, and the boom of Europeans converting to Islam, but also from what is happening in Europe's schools. The trends do not support Viktor Orbán's vision for a Christian Europe.
A few days ago, Belgium, which was recently targeted in terror attacks, decided that religion classes in French-speaking primary and secondary schools will be cut in half starting in October 2016, and replaced with an hour of "citizenship classes": lessons in secularism. In Brussels, half the children in public schools already choose to take classes in Islam.
In France, the Socialist government imposed a "secularism charter" in every school, banning Christianity from the educational system. That charter is the manifesto of the "révolution douce" ("soft revolution"), France's extreme secularism. It is an attempt to eliminate any claim of identity. A Jewish yarmulke, a Christian cross and an Islamic veil are treated the same way. This secularism is what has been rightly defined "the Left's blind spot with Islam".
It is a secularism that has also gone mad. The Yves Codou elementary school in the village of La Môle, for example, celebrated "Parents' Day" instead of Mother's Day, in order not to upset gay couples. Municipalities have already changed the enrollment form for schoolchildren by eliminating the words "father" and "mother", replacing them with "legal manager 1" and "legal manager 2". It is George Orwell's "Newspeak".
After two major terror attacks in 2015, France, instead of promoting a cultural "jihad" based on Western values, responded to Islamic fundamentalism with a ridiculous "Day of Secularism" to be celebrated every 9th of December.
It is not that this secularism "exacerbated" cultural tensions, as many liberals say. It is that this secularism severed French culture from the very ideals that created the West. Severing it made this culture blind to the incompatibility of Islamism with secular-minded values. A French teacher, Isabelle Rey, after the massacre at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, wrote that
"many of our students do not share our dismay at the events. We can pretend to have a consensus, but it is a fact that a significant portion of our population believes that the journalists deserved their fate or that the Kouachi brothers [the murderers] died as heroes".
This narrow secularism has also prevented France from openly supporting Eastern Christians under Islamist oppression. The music group "The Priests" had planned to advertise an upcoming concert in Paris with a banner on a poster that said proceeds would go towards the cause of Christians persecuted in Iraq and Syria -- but the company operating the Paris subway system initially banned the ad, saying it considered the banner as a violation of secularism.
Sweden, one of the European countries more infiltrated by radical Islam, is listed as "the least religious" nation in the West. According to Statistics Sweden, just 5% of Swedes are regular churchgoers, and one in three couples that get married chooses a civil ceremony. How did Sweden get there? Many years ago, the Swedish government banned any religious activities in schools except for those directly related to religion classes.
Not only has secularism no answers for terrorism; it also leaves Europeans unsure about what is worth fighting, killing, and dying for. If you believe, as the secularists do, that our values are mere accidents of history and that the highest good is comfort, then you will care nothing for the future of civilization.
The symbol of this Euro-Secularism is the Oude Kerk, dating from the 13th century, and one of the most famous churches in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is "Sexyland", offering "Live F*ck Shows", a coffee shop for drugs and an "Erotic Supermarket" for dildos. For seven euros one can also visit the church.
The symbol of Euro-Secularism is the 13th century Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is "Sexyland", offering "Live F*ck Shows", a coffee shop for drugs and an "Erotic Supermarket" for dildos. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
Welcome to Amsterdam, where the most practised religion is Islam.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.