This book presents the findings of the first ever survey of the religious preferences of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). An international research team interviewed a large sample of MEPs, with the purpose of investigating their beliefs and how these beliefs have an impact on their role as MEPs.
The findings of this survey are offered in order to discuss, in a non-normative way, some key political and intellectual debates. Is Europe secularized? Is the European Union a Christian club? What is the influence of religious lobbying in Brussels? What are the dynamics of value politics? Contributions also compare MEPs with national MPs and citizens to measure whether the findings are specific to the supranational arena and European multi-level governance. External cases, such as the USA and Israel, are also presented to define whether there is a European exceptionalism regarding the role of religion in the political arena.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Religion, State & Society.
François Foret is Professor of Political Science and Jean Monnet Chair at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium. He is also director for political research at the Institute for European Studies at ULB and a researcher at the Centre d'Etude de la Vie Politique (CEVIPOL). He is Senior Associate Fellow at the Von Hugel Institute, St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge, UK.
1. Introduction - 'Religion at the European Parliament': Purposes, scope and limits of a survey on the religious beliefs of MEPs François Foret
2. Religion at the European Parliament: an overview François Foret
Part I: Smooth Transition from National Conciliation to European Bargain?
3. A social role for churches and cultural demarcation: how German MEPs represent religion in the European Parliament Anne Jenichen and Henrike Müller
4. 'A nation of vicars and merchants': religiosity and Dutch MEPs Didier Caluwaerts, Pieter-Jan De Vlieger and Silvia Erzeel
5. Consulting and compromising: the (non-)religious policy preferences of British MEPs Martin Steven
Part II: Master at Home, Embattled in Brussels?
6. French MEPs and religion: Europeanising 'laïcité'? François Foret
7. Defenders of faith? Victims of secularisation? Polish politicians and religion in the European Parliament Magdalena Góra and Katarzyna Zielinska
8. Religion at the European Parliament: the Italian case Stefano Braghiroli and Giulia Sandri
Part III: In Transit: From Religious Stronghold to Liberal Laboratory
9. Austrian MEPs: between privatization and politicisation of religion Julia Mourão Permoser
10. Politics and religion beyond state borders: the activity of Spanish MEPs on religious issues Gloria García-Romeral and Mar Griera
Part IV: So Far, Not So Dissimilar: European 'Exceptionalism' Challenged by Other Western Cases
11. Religion in the Israeli Parliament: a typology Sharon Weinblum
12. Religion in the American Congress: the case of the US House of Representatives, 1953-2003 James L. Guth
13. Conclusion François Foret