Europe is a “dying” continent because its secular culture means people are too selfish to marry and have children, warned the Chief Rabbi yesterday.
Lord Sacks blamed Europe’s declining population on a culture of “consumerism and instant gratification”.
Quoting the famous slogan used by cosmetics company L’Oreal, he criticised Europe as a culture based on the idea of “because you’re worth it”.
Lord Sacks, who has been head of the orthodox Jews in the UK for 18 years, is the country’s most senior religious leader.
He said that Europe is the world’s most secular region and the only one with a declining population.
The Chief Rabbi accused secular thinkers of undermining religion’s effect on family values, warning, “The major assault on religion today comes from the neo-Darwinians”.
He made his remarks in a lecture to Theos, the religious think-tank, stressing that parenthood involves “massive sacrifices” of money, attention, time and emotional energy.
He questioned where in modern Europe “will you find space for the concept of sacrifice for the sake of generations not born?”
He continued: “Europe is dying, exactly as Polybius said about ancient Greece in the third pre-Christian century.
“We are undergoing the moral equivalent of climate change and no-one is talking about it.”
The Chief Rabbi argued that religion is essential to liberal democracy as it upholds the importance of marriage and parenthood whilst protecting the principles that underpin freedom.
Lord Sacks, who took his seat in the House of Lords last week, said: “Wherever you turn today – Jewish, Christian or Muslim – the more religious the community, the larger on average are their families.”
He added: “It may not be religion that is dying, it may be liberal democratic Europe that is in danger, demographically and in its ability to defend its own values.”