Thursday 21 July 2022

Free speech in Europe

Malta is the most religious country in Europe, if it is in Europe (it's an island off the coast of Africa but the inhabitants get angry if accused of being Africans). Romania might be the second most.

Until 2011 Malta was the only country in Europe, except the Vatican City, which did not permit divorce. Having changed that, the island went on in 2017 to enact single sex marriage.

This month Malta's Equality Minister Owen Bonnici and Inclusivity Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli demanded that a Catholic priest who said that being homosexual was worse than being possessed by demons be prosecuted for hate speech

(Both these high-minded ministers, by the way, were found guilty three weeks ago by the Maltese Public Standards Commissioner of misappropriating public funds.)

This is one in a long, long list of such cases in numerous European countries. In 2017, for example, a Catholic priest was unsuccessfully prosecuted in Barcelona for saying in a sermon that homosexual acts were mortal sins, which is Catholic teaching.

The important point here is not sexual morality or even religious freedom, but freedom of speech.

A liberal principle.

But religious freedom, another liberal principle, is also threatened, obviously.

There is taking place a big shift in Western culture, a shift no longer away from Christianity but against Christianity. 

The shift is from ignoring or disliking religion to considering it a danger to humanity, which has to be confronted. 

The shift comes from authority - from top down.

This should concern atheists and people who dislike religion, because religion (not economics, as Marx taught) is the basis of every culture.

This is so even if almost nobody believes in God.

Almost all Swedes are godless Lutherans. Almost all French are godless Catholics. Bulgarians are mostly godless Orthodox. 

There is a big difference between those three things. 

You see it in their politics and even more in their economics.

Islam, Judaism and Hinduism are something else again.

Freedom and democracy are rooted mostly not in pagan antiquity, with slaves and crucifixions, but in Christianity. 

Individualism is a Christian idea. 

Once faith in the transcendent goes so does everything. 

I lunched with some conservative, Catholic journalists in Rome twelve or fourteen years ago and told them that homosexuality would become the most pressing battleground from a Catholic point of view, because it was the place where Christianity, excluding liberal Protestantism, came directly into conflict with the quasi-religious ideology of human rights and anti-discrimination. 

They were sceptical, but it was obvious. 

It's a theological struggle. 

Think the wars of religions.

Rod Dreher recently recounted complaining to a young, Republican voting, church-going journalist about the media bias on the subject of single sex marriage. His response was - of course. Should the media be even-handed when discussing the Ku Klux Klan?

Personally, I think the media in its news reporting should be completely even handed and objective about everything, but I am a naïf idealist.


  1. I'd wager Georgia is the most (or among the most) religious countries in Europe.

  2. Georgia is very religious, but I'm not sure whether she's in Europe. In fact, I am sure she is not.


  3. As you rightly say, this isn't about sexual morality. It's about human freedom at the most fundamental level.
    There is an irony; the Catholic Church used, once, to silence its opponents with the words 'Error has no rights'.
    Nonetheless - the attempt to stifle Christianity is no less malign and needs to be absolutely fought. One's enemy's enemy is, most assuredly, NOT always one's friend