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Religion and the Struggle for European Union

Religion and the Struggle for European Union: Confessional Culture and the Limits of Integration

Brent F. Nelsen
James L. Guth
John C. Green
Ted Jelen
Mark Rozell
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Religion and the Struggle for European Union
    Book Description:

    InReligion and the Struggle for European Union, Brent F. Nelsen and James L. Guth delve into the powerful role of religion in shaping European attitudes on politics, political integration, and the national and continental identities of its leaders and citizens.Nelsen and Guth contend that for centuries Catholicism promoted the universality of the Church and the essential unity of Christendom. Protestantism, by contrast, esteemed particularity and feared Catholic dominance. These differing visions of Europe have influenced the process of postwar integration in profound ways. Nelsen and Guth compare the Catholic view of Europe as a single cultural entity best governed as a unified polity against traditional Protestant estrangement from continental culture and its preference for pragmatic cooperation over the sacrifice of sovereignty. As the authors show, this deep cultural divide, rooted in the struggles of the Reformation, resists the ongoing secularization of the continent. Unless addressed, it threatens decades of hard-won gains in security and prosperity.Farsighted and rich with data,Religion and the Struggle for European Unionoffers a pragmatic way forward in the EU's attempts to solve its social, economic, and political crises.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-071-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. PART I The Framework

    • 1 Culture and Integration
      (pp. 3-30)

      Two contrasting visions exist side by side in the European Union. One sees Europe as a single community that has suffered unnatural division and fraternal wars for so long that it will take generations to heal, but heal it shall. And heal it must, for global economic competition and shifting geopolitics demand that Europe face the world united. But a second vision challenges the first, resting on the judgment that a politically united Europe is dangerous—oppressive in the past, and very likely also in the future. In this view, the contemporary system of nation-states has guaranteed liberty for the...

  7. PART II Confessional Cultures

    • 2 Common Roots
      (pp. 33-66)

      The idea of a united Europe is an echo from imperial Rome and Carolingian Aachen.¹ The notion that all Christendom should be united under one political and religious authority is rooted in the universal claims of Christianity and the Roman imperial ideal. Europe today has a sense of itself because Constantine once ruled Rome as emperor and priest and Charlemagne much later accomplished the same feat, but only in the West. Efforts at political union, whether carried out by emperors or popes, have met with limited success through the centuries, but a culture shaped by both Church and throne permeated...

    • 3 Reformation and Reaction
      (pp. 67-116)

      One Church, one empire, one chosen people, one way of life—that was the medieval ideal. Latin Christendom never quite lived up to that ideal, but the commonalities of Western culture allowed the Church and temporal rulers to maintain the appearance of unity. The Reformation, however, shattered this visible union, as Protestants and Catholics struggled over theology, political ideas, and church structures. What eventually emerged were two confessional cultures—one Catholic, maintaining the core of the medieval ideal while adjusting to the rise of the nation-state; and one Protestant, legitimating the spiritual and temporal fragmentation of Christendom and fostering new...

    • 4 Political Movements
      (pp. 117-146)

      Modernity, to nineteenth-century Catholics, was foreign and hostile. The triumph of sovereign states over Christendom, the emergence of secular liberal states after the French Revolution, and the growth of democratic forms had all challenged the rights and privileges of the Church. Nineteenth-century Protestants, by contrast, felt far more comfortable in the new Europe of sovereign states, welcoming liberalism and democracy as beneficial manifestations of Protestantism. Catholics and Protestants thus pulled away from one another in the nineteenth century, both culturally and politically. They sometimes lived side by side, but they existed in different worlds. And they viewed their surroundings differently....

  8. PART III Constructing a New Europe

    • 5 Postwar Preparation
      (pp. 149-180)

      Europe in 1945 was ruined but not destroyed.¹ The Allies and the Resistance had defeated fascism, but exactly what would emerge in its place was not immediately clear, beyond a commitment to build some form of parliamentary democracy in each country. New political movements would surely appear, but the most likely scenario was for the major prewar political groups to compete again for power. In the West, the socialists seemed likely to benefit from their resistance to fascism and their pledges to deploy state power to alleviate the suffering of working people. Few observers gave the small Catholic parties of...

    • 6 Catholic Construction
      (pp. 181-207)

      On May 9, 1950, exactly five years after the German High Command surrendered in Berlin, French foreign minister Robert Schuman presented a solution to the perplexing “German problem” to a tired and hungry cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Georges Bidault. The plan, developed by Jean Monnet and his team, called for joint management of the coal and steel industries of France, Germany, and possibly other countries by a supranational High Authority. The cabinet swiftly agreed to the proposal—although some ministers may not have known quite what they had done. At a press conference in the ornate Salon de l’Horloge...

    • 7 Protestant Resistance
      (pp. 208-258)

      Great Britain and the Nordic countries did not join integration efforts on the Continent in the 1950s. When some majority Protestant states did join the European Community in the 1970s, they did so tentatively and with reservations. Protestant elites were wary of economic integration with the Six for fear of hardships. But these fears were no greater than the fears of the Catholic political leaders who had earlier signed the Treaties of Paris and Rome. What distinguished Protestant political elites from their continental counterparts was their rejection ofpoliticalintegration and the idea of a federal United States of Europe....

  9. PART IV Divided Europe

    • 8 Member States and Elites
      (pp. 261-283)

      The enlarged European Community (EC) of the late 1970s may have been divided in its approach to integration, but it was a remarkably successful organization. The Protestant EU member states did not share their Catholic partners’ passion for “ever-closer union,” but they still had enough community spirit to desire stronger economic and security ties. Did these deep interactions diminish the confessional divide in Europe? To what extent did Karl Deutsch’s learning process contribute to a thicker community spirit and a growing sense of European identity? In the remaining chapters, we explore the persistence of the confessional cultural divide in the...

    • 9 Political Groups
      (pp. 284-319)

      The European Union’s member state behavior and elite attitudes, as we saw in the last chapter, demonstrate the continued influence of confessional culture in contemporary Europe. Other social and economic factors also exert pressure on national decision makers, resulting in a sometimes-less-than-perfect match between confessional culture and member state behavior. But the general postwar pattern still holds: Elites in Catholic countries support deeper integration, while those in Protestant countries resist yielding sovereignty, preferring intergovernmental cooperation over supranationalism.

      In this chapter we extend our exploration of European integration since 1975 to political groups, in particular churches and political parties. If confessional...

    • 10 European Identity
      (pp. 320-348)

      We turn finally to European citizens. From the very beginning, integration theorists knew that citizens would be crucial to the construction of a new supranational identity. National leaders might develop a deep mutual sense of community and regional identity through constant interaction and meaningful exchange. They might even join in a conscious effort to create a “European” identity to undergird a federal union. But if leaders could not inspire in ordinary citizens the same sense of community that they were experiencing, union would not be possible. Economic, social, and political integration would only go as far as the sense of...

  10. Index
    (pp. 349-368)