Europe’s Fundamentalist Challenge

What I appreciated the most about “Parliamentary Representatives—On Secularism in Europe” (Vol. XXXVII, No. 1) was the way it connected the dots among religious freedom, pluralism and fundamentalism. This is especially poignant in Europe at a time when we are experiencing the threat of fundamentalism—particularly when it comes to the sexual and reproductive rights of women and LGBT persons.

One of the dangers posed by fundamentalism is the promotion of restrictive laws under the guise of protecting the “natural family.” This is happening in the European Parliament, not only by religious—especially Christian—groups, but also by nationalist, extreme right ideologies.

During the ongoing refugee crisis, we also must understand the multiple meanings and facets of religious expression. People’s freedom of religious belief and expression are inseparable from the larger fight against fundamentalism. Still, religion must not monopolize the rights agenda.

Our challenge is to understand the drivers of fundamentalism, both religious and secular. It is especially urgent to grasp the global context and structures that drive the fundamentalism we have to contend with in Europe. No matter which political ideology or religious theology is being used to promote a nonpluralistic society, we have to work with existing political and social structures to foster cohesion and mutual respect in a diverse Europe.

EMILIE WEIDERUD
SRHR Policy Advisor
Church of Sweden
Uppsala, Sweden

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