MEP: EU seen as cold place for Christianity

An Irish MEP says the EU is seen as a “cold place for Christianity”.

Gay Mitchell MEP, speaking in the European Parliament, said he had experienced a lack of respect from people about his religious belief.

Mr Mitchell said there are “people here who see themselves as fair minded and liberal but who are anything but that when it comes to trying to see things from the point of view of people who have religious belief”.

He added: “I respect those who do not have religious belief but I fully expect them to reciprocate that respect.”

In March a British MEP said she believed faith should be a “personal eccentricity” and kept out of public life.

Labour MEP Mary Honeyball was responding to comments made by Tony Blair who said: “in general terms in British society there is a risk that people see faith as a personal eccentricity.”

But Mrs Honeyball said faith “is and should remain exactly that – a personal eccentricity” and also objected to the increased activity of Christian groups in the public square.

She said: “There has, in fact, been a marked increase in political lobbying by Christian organisations over the last ten years. We are getting more of it in the public square not less.”

Her comments attracted criticism from politicians in Europe and the UK, including those in her own party.

Church groups have also raised concerns over an EU Directive which could interfere with religious liberty and free speech.

The European Union is proposing a directive to outlaw discrimination on grounds including sexual orientation and religion in the provision of goods and services.

But Britain’s Roman Catholic leaders have branded the proposed EU Equal Treatment Directive an “instrument of oppression”.

They warned in August that if the Directive were implemented “the EU would effectively be dictating to religious bodies what their faith does or does not require: a wholly unacceptable position”.

The Directive proposes to introduce a framework of anti-discrimination law that all European member states would have to put into practice through laws in their own countries.

The Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland made the comments in a joint response to a UK Government consultation on the proposed Directive.

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