Skip to content
Accueil » News » European Secularist Network defends NEUTRALITY of EU Parliament

European Secularist Network defends NEUTRALITY of EU Parliament

European secularists react

               A “ecumenical prayer breakfast” was organised on the premises of the European Parliament on 6 June 2023 at the initiative of COMECE and CEC. The invitation featured the logo of the European Parliament, giving the impression that this initiative was supported by the institution.

Following an intervention by the European Secularist Network, the Parliament reacted and asked the organisers to remove it.

               The European Secularist Network welcomes the appropriate reaction of the Parliament, the institution representing all European citizens, which made it clear that the organisation of this “prayer breakfast” was the result of an individual initiative by one of its members, and that it was not an official event of the Parliament or organised under its patronage.

Neutrality, a consequence of the equality of all citizens

The European Parliament is the institution representing all European citizens. “Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament” (Art. 10(2) TEU), and their equality shall be guaranteed: “in all its activities, the Union shall respect the principle of the equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies”.

Furthermore, the European Union is a political project based on secular-humanist values, with no religious reference. These are the “values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”.

The Preamble to the TEU refers to the “universal values of inviolable and inalienable human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law”, which have developed from “Europe’s cultural, religious and humanist heritage”. This phrase is a reminder of the great diversity of historical experiences and cultures, and is not intended to favour any particular religious heritage. In fact, it simply refers to the diversity of inspirations that led to the ideal of the Enlightenment, that of the universal values mentioned. These values and principles, enshrined in declarations of rights from the eighteenth century onwards, are codified in Article 2 of the Treaty itself.

Religious ceremonies in Parliament?

Parliament, the place where the general will of the Union’s citizens is formed, is not the right place for a religious ceremony. The organisation of a “prayer breakfast” in Parliament, inspired by the “National Prayer Breakfast” created in the United States by the fundamentalist fringe of evangelicalism, contributes to a confusion between politics and religion that is damaging to democracy.

               The founding principles of the Union form a coherent whole with the separation of religion and politics.

It is the impartiality of democratic government, free from religious interference, reflected in practice by the neutrality of institutions, that makes possible the effective realisation of EU values.

Indeed, it is only the emancipation of political power from religious influence that enables all citizens to be treated equally and their will to be formed and expressed autonomously.