How do evangelical Christians see the European Union?

Christians & European elections. In the Netherlands and Romania, believers express disappointment with the main ideologies in Brussels. In France and Italy, the EU is perceived as distant.

Joel Forster

10 APRIL 2024 · 17:42 CET

A woman with an European Union flag in Italy. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="">Antoine Schibler</a>,
A woman with an European Union flag in Italy. / Photo: Antoine Schibler

Like many other European citizens, some evangelical Christians see the European Union as a distant entity that has little impact on their daily lives. Others believe that Brussels is part of the problem of a continent that has abandoned its Christian roots.

These is the general picture several Christian leaders contacted by Evangelical Focus painted ahead of the European Parliament elections (6-9 June 2024). Through a large communication campaign, the EU institutions are trying to encourage citizens to express with their vote how challenges such as the war in the east and the protection of democracy should be addressed.

The European Evangelical Alliance is also calling Christians to engage actively and vote.

Evangelical Focus will report in subsequent news articles on how evangelical Christians in several countries see the European election. In this first article, we asked Christian leaders how the European Union is perceived by believers.


Netherlands: “Independence is a blessing from God”

“National independence is seen as a blessing from God”, says Evert Van Vlastuin, a Dutch journalist who leads the news website Christian Network Europe. “Most Evangelicals in Holland come from a tradition in which the national sovereignty is connected with the liberty of the Protestant faith in 1648”.

This is why the Dutch – and especially Protestants – see “sovereignty as connected with your dearest convictions, something you won’t give away easily”.

The Protestant political parties from the Netherlands that hope to gain seats in the European Parliament (Christen Unie and the Reformed SGP) usually “campaign for cooperation in Europe”, says the journalist, “but against a monstrous European supers-state (whatever that might be)”. 

Conservative Christians, including evangelicals, “have always been distanced towards the EU”, notes Van Vlastuin. In the decade of the 2000s, when the Dutch government liberalised euthanasia and introduced gay marriage, “there was a short time of hope that the EU could ‘stop’ the tides”. But as the years went by, it “became clear that within Europe, the secularist wind is much stronger than the other influences. So, in terms of ‘moral rearmament’, the expectation is now quite low”. 


Romania: suspicion about harmful ideologies

At the other geographical end of the European Union, evangelicals tend to be even more suspicious about the influence of certain ideological trends on the European machine.

“In Romania, more and more often we see short video clips on social media with church leaders expressing negativity about the EU”, says Emanuel Tundrea, a theologian and pastor who helps lead the European Leadership Forum.

These faith leaders reject “sinful ideologies like LGBTQ, pro-abortion, anti-family, pornography or corruption”, all of them linked to a liberal Western Europe that is seen as having left Christian values behind.

The push of many European Union countries to promote LGBTQI policies is a “sensitive issue, especially in more conservative, Orthodox countries” such as Romania. “Unfortunately”, says Emanuel Tundrea, “this gives a lot of fuel to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, who tries to portray himself as a defender of the family and Christian values and paints the West as a decadent society… and this works in many circles”.

In fact, “there are already voices who say that maybe it is better to be protected from such ideologies under Communism”, laments Tundrea.

But there are also evangelical Christians who see the positives of being part of a united European bloc. “More and more leaders are pointing out the window of opportunity we experience: we have never enjoyed so much freedom, and we are encouraged to use it for the Gospel advancement since we do not know how soon the persecution will return”.

The pastor adds: “We can still preach the Gospel on the streets in most places, in schools, on the Internet and Christian Radio. We still can run Christian schools and print Bibles and Christian books”. This was not always the case in Romania and other nations in the region.


France and Italy: EU seems far away

In France, “Christians see the European Union in the same way as the rest of the population”, says Thierry Le Gall, the person reresenting the French National Evangelical Council to the political world.

Despite being part of one of the Europe’s leading countries and having a seat of the European Parliament on its own territory, the French look at the EU “from a distance, with little vision of the decisions taken in Strasbourg or Brussels”.

In France, most citizens, including those who identify as Christians, “expect the national government to solve their urgent day-to-day problems before taking an interest in Europe”.

There is a similar reality in Italy, according to René Breuel, evangelical pastor and author in Rome. “Christians often don't have a well-developed vision for the European Union”, he notes.

Italian evangelical Christians generally “feel like a small minority that needs to attend to its own needs”. Perhaps because of the Reformed history in many central and northern European countries, some evangelicals in this Southern European country still “see the EU as a means of protecting the European cultural heritage, including its faith roots”. 

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