“As Christians, our hope is much stronger than our fears”

Christians & European elections (4). The representative in Brussels of the European Evangelical Alliance says voters need to understand that “politics won’t be able to solve all problems overnight”.

Joel Forster

BRUSSELS · 14 MAY 2024 · 17:48 CET

Arie de Pater, Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance, speaking at a conference at the European Parliament. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/EPRID4FORB">EPRID</a>.,
Arie de Pater, Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance, speaking at a conference at the European Parliament. / Photo: EPRID.

Arie de Pater represents over 20 million evangelical Christians in Brussels and therefore follows the European Union’s debates and decisions closest.

In less than a month (6-9 June), the European Parliament elections will allow some 400 million people to decide who will lead the bloc of the 27 countries, and Arie de Pater is concerned that “disappointment” drives people to “turn to more radical politicians who present bold and simple answers” to complex problems.

This interview with the European Evangelical Alliance’s person in the heart of Europe is part of a series in which we previously asked evangelicals how they see the EU and how they believe the conflict with Russia should be addressed. In the last article, we profiled one of the Christian politicians involved in the campaign.

Question. Arie, all polls say the hard right nationalist options will improve their support in June. Why will more people trust these options?

Answer. Finding political solutions to Europe’s problems is an arduous job. Often, there are no clear solutions but only steps into the right direction. These steps are the result of political compromises.

Many people are afraid of war, of losing their job, of the impact of globalisation, of terrorism, of new epidemics, of environmental degradation and the future of their kids. These are all real fears and people expect politicians to address these issues, and quickly.

But speed and working together with people from 27 member states too often don’t go together. As a result, many people are disappointed in politics, and they no longer trust traditional politicians to protect them. Their disappointment is driving them to turn to more radical politicians who present bold and simple answers in bold and simple language.

“As Christians, our hope is much stronger than our fears”

The Triumph Arch in Paris, France, lit with the colours of the European Union flag, on Europe Day, 9 May 2024. / Photo: Flickr European Parliament.

Q. These days, the parties are explaining their priorities for the next 5 years. But according to you, what are the real challenges for people in our continent that should be addressed by MEPs and the European Commission?

A. Based on where you live, and on your outlook on live, there are many issues and they are all real. But there is a more fundamental issue underneath.

The European Union’s slogan is ‘Unity in Diversity’, but it feels like our unity is shrinking and our diversity is growing. Diversity is not an issue in and of itself but if it leads to division, polarisation and fragmentation, it is. That is true from the local to the European or international level.

We need politicians who are able to work together to lessen the divides. For example, will they bring the concerns of farmers and environment scientists together? Will members of the European Parliament (MEPs) work to calm down the rhetoric over migration to sensible levels, look seriously at the impact of rapid population growth in some places and also treat all asylum seekers with compassion and fairness, with adequate systems to safely return those who do not deserve refugee status and to help genuine refugees to flourish across Europe?

And, while MEPs are meant to speak up for the welfare of their constituents, the European Union will fall apart without their ability to take seriously pan-European problems and the well-being of the whole Union.

If we are no longer able to overcome the divides, we won’t be able to solve any of the issues Europe faces right now.


Q. How should Christians pray for the European Union and our continent as a whole?

A. Well, based on my answer to the previous question, you won’t be surprised that I start with a prayer for a Europe where mutual respect and listening increases, both in political debates and in society as a whole.

Let’s pray for greater understanding of the value of every human being, for wise and just decisions to be made to face the many economic, technological, environmental, social and security challenges Europe faces, and for the weakest to be better protected.

And let’s pray for free and fair elections based on the truth, including the truth that politics won’t be able to solve all problems overnight.

We all have to play our part in our own lives in our own neighbourhoods as beacons of Hope and Light. As Christians, our Hope is much stronger than our fears. Let’s pray that that message of hope will spread in Europe and beyond.

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