The Religion of Rights

Nov 19, 2017 by

by Roger Scruton, CERC:

European civilisation is marked through and through by Christ’s two commandments, to love God entirely and to love your neighbour as yourself.

Europeans have cherished the Prayer that asks God to ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us’. Forgiveness and confession are cornerstones of the Christian edifice. But there is another cornerstone too, and that is the idea of natural law, inherited by Christianity from the Romans, and ultimately from the stoics of ancient Greece. Natural law connotes the obligations intrinsic to a free and self- governing life. And on the three cornerstones of confession, forgiveness and natural law has been built the great edifice that distinguishes European civilisation from all others in recorded history, which is the belief in the sanctity of the individual. Whatever the powers that govern us, we believe, it is the free and sovereign individual who provides the ultimate test of their legitimacy.

The European Institutions have tried to retain this idea, while removing all reference to the Christian religion from their official documents. After all, European society contains people of all faiths and none, and to emphasis the Christian legacy would be to discriminate against those who reject its doctrines. But the Institutions go further than not mentioning the Christian faith; they ostentatiously discard its teachings, whenever fashion conflicts with them. Members of the European Parliament are pressing for both gay marriage and abortion to be included in the list of human rights, while the European Fundamental Rights Agency, established to define and protect the rights of European citizens, is actively expanding the list of rights to include everything on the radical feminist and LGBT agenda. Whatever the cause of these developments, there is no doubt as to the effect. European society is rapidly jettisoning its Christian heritage and has found nothing to put in the place of it save the religion of ‘human rights’.

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