See Conservative Home for my article on how the EU is not a Christian institution with an Established Church.    John Redwood on the EU, the Church of England and the Archbishop.


  1. MiC
    January 31, 2021

    The fact that the European Union does not have an established church – nor do the US etc. – is to its enormous credit, and would be incompatible with the constitutions of most of its member countries if it did.

    However, most of those members are from a Christian tradition and their sovereign laws may well reflect that.

    The remit of the Treaties does not cover matters where religion would appear to have much bearing anyway.

    One of the few would be its animal welfare provisions which in principle make certain ritual slaughter practices unlawful.

    The UK opted out of those, as have some other countries – but by no means all.

    1. graham1946
      January 31, 2021

      The USA does not have an established church, but you cannot get into power unless you are (or say you are) a believer and church goer.

    2. Lifelogic
      February 1, 2021

      Free entry to the great cathedrals would indeed be nice – a year or two back I had 15 mins spare before a meeting one morning (and was near St Pauls). I had not been in for many years so thought I would pop in. Alas they wanted £18 and by then I only had ten mins.

      Services do give free entry though. A voluntary donation would be better I would have given them £5. Solidarity but only with thouse who have about 4 hours of minimum wage pay to give them it seems.

      1. Fred.H
        February 1, 2021

        You just spotted ‘Rip off the tourist’ which happens rather a lot.

  2. Peter
    January 31, 2021

    Conservative Home is not really a conservative (with a small ‘c’) website.

    David Gauke is a regular contributor, even though he is no longer a Conservative – having been expelled. The tone of the website is extremely ‘wet’.

    I don’t bother reading it anymore; but I have now read your article there.

    1. Peter
      January 31, 2021

      I note that the Conservative Home article also ends with your concern around the word ‘solidarity’.

      I am not an Anglican but I do not wish to attack it. Free entry to the great cathedrals would be nice though, given all the taxes I pay.

      That said, the C. of E. is better than nothing and certainly better than the empty moral relativism we are used to hearing nowadays.

      ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4 always managed to select ‘trendy vicars, dissident Catholics, the sort of Muslims the Islington set would invite to dinner parties and rabbis who doubled as comedians. Then again, ‘Today’ presenters have admitted that they always hated the ‘Thought for the Day’ slot anyway.

      You mention certain countries and state churchs. Virulent anticlericalism in Spain nearly led to a Communist regime. The same thing happened in Portugal though without so much violence.

      For all the talk of German Zollverein, Germany – Prussia in particular – also instigated the Kulturkampf, blatantly clamping down on the Catholic religion.

      1. rose
        January 31, 2021

        Just to be clear, cathedrals don’t get money from the taxpayer, nor do churches.

        1. Lifelogic
          February 1, 2021

          They do get very substantial tax breaks CHT, IHT, Stamp duty, income tax and indeed all the charity tax breaks which is essentially the same thing. Do we really want Bishops in the Lords? It is an affront to democracy. It is a long time since I heard a CofE Bishop say anything remotely sensible. Meaningless platitudes, patent untruths and absurd virtue-signalling is all you get. Rather like all but about the 100 at best sound MPs.

        2. Lynn Atkinson
          February 1, 2021

          They do actually. They retain all their income from their massive investments, like the Metro Centre, free of tax. That’s money from the taxpayer.

    2. Sea_Warrior
      February 1, 2021

      I appear to have been banned from it. My offence? Being a right-wing Conservative, it seems. Back to the point: the EU, like Biden’s Washington, seems to care little for the continuation of Western civilisation. The people will kick back, eventually.

  3. Fred.H
    January 31, 2021

    Why does it need to be? Atheist is fine by me.

    1. MiC
      February 1, 2021

      It isn’t atheist.

      It is silent on religion.

      The members agree that it is not its business.

  4. London Nick
    January 31, 2021

    ConservativeHome ban people (like me!) who criticise the government from the Right, but tolerate those who post criticisisms from the Left. I wonder if their moderators are conservatives at all. In any event, I no longer go there. It has become an appalling nest of left-wing trolls. Shame.

    1. Hope
      January 31, 2021

      +1 Blaire tribute paper.

  5. Hope
    January 31, 2021

    JR,Very good article.

    This sort of illinforemd twaddle by Welby shows how the new church people are more political rather than focusing on how to be a better Christian. Perhaps his former commercial career shows him to be more a socialist at heart and turned to the church to appease his own conscience? I never read a good article about him.

  6. None of the Above
    January 31, 2021

    Thank you for that interesting contribution. I think it rather illustrates how muddled the EU strategic thinking can be and how vague EU Law has become. Perhaps this lack of clarity on meaning or intention is deliberately designed to assist in the politicisation of the ECJ.

  7. formula57
    January 31, 2021

    Is it not surprising how a former Group Treasurer of Enterprise Oil can so mislead himself about the Evil Empire?

  8. Raymond
    January 31, 2021

    I agree that the early EEC/EU was secular. However, it may be that elements of Catholic Social Teaching are reflected in EU law. The one I have come across is subsidiarity – the idea that responsibility is delegated to the most appropriate level- which is in both EU law and Catholic Social Teaching. Also Belloc saw Europe and the Faith as being inextricably linked and wrote a book about it. So there may be something in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comment ‘The EU was originally inspired by Christian social teaching ‘

    However, over the centuries, and particularly recent decades, European people have been losing their Christian faith so I don’t see an expanding EU as anything other than secular, and explicitly it isn’t as you state. In previous centuries (e.g. under Charlemagne) there would have been a strong Christian element to an expanding European empire but not now.

    1. Ed M
      January 31, 2021


      Catholicism absolutely celebrates Sovereignty. As part of Patriotism. Both in Theology / Doctrine but also in practise (look at the life of St Joan of Arc!). But it’s not rocket science either. A country without its full sovereignty is like an individual without his. That’s just wrong – at least by default. The only time Sovereignty can be over-ruled:
      1) Country not ready for Sovereignty (part of Referendum Debate but Brexiters won so we go with that)
      2) A country ruled by a corrupt political group (like Babylonia and God permitted Cyrus the Great to conquer Babylonia and incorporate it into his benevolent Empire – well, the UK is no more or less corrupt than other sovereign countries around the world so that argument certainly doesn’t apply).

      Anyone who argues for Sovereignty as Default is indulging in HERESY.

      Now I kind of get with AB Justin Welby is getting at but Solidarity is a political word – and so should have nothing to do with religion and so shouldn’t be used. If he means, European nations should get on well / have good relations, then he’s absolutely right – but NOT in a political organisation. Rather that they come to foster good relations in things such as Trade, Culture and Security through non-political, non-legally binding initiatives, such as, I don’t know, some members of German Army allowed to train in UK with British Army, (and vice-versa), UK government offers a certain amount of grants to European artists / scientists / entrepreneurs / medical practitioner and so on) to learn, live and work here (and vice-versa), really good trade agreement – better than rest of the world but still outside Single Market. That kind of thing.

      1. Ed M
        January 31, 2021

        ‘Anyone who argues for Sovereignty as Default is indulging in HERESY.’

        – Sorry, got this wrong, I meant, anyone who argues for Political Union of Nation States over Sovereignty as Default Moral Position is indulging in HERESY, i meant. At least in Catholicism.

        1. Raymond
          February 1, 2021

          Thankyou for your thoughtful response.

  9. acorn
    January 31, 2021

    Are you trying to wind-up the DUP in Northern Ireland (NI)? Is this an ERG sideways attack on the NI Protocol? The EU is circa 55% Catholic/Orthodox Catholic. Religion is not an EU competence, it is secular under every treaty, Religion is purely a member states competence, nothing to do with the EU.

    1. Peter
      January 31, 2021

      Ian Paisley has often spoke of the EU as a Catholic plot to undermine the Protestant religion.

      There are some interesting conspiracy theories on various fundamentalist sites. A good one is the idea of the EU flag being Catholic symbolism:-
      ‘Roman Catholic imagery is endemic in Europe, and has been wholeheartedly embraced by the European government. The design of the European flag was inspired by the halo of 12 stars around pictures of the Madonna, and appears prominently on the Council of Europe stained-glass window in Strasbourg Cathedral.’

      Lots of entertainment value – but you have to wade through longwinded discussions about the Westminster Confession and the sermons of Charles Spurgeon.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      February 1, 2021

      Dear Acorn–But wasn’t Health supposed to be a Nation’s competence? Competent is not a word that comes to mind on anything joint or otherwise in the EU. Shudder to think of the EU running anything military–Thank God we are out.

      1. acorn
        February 1, 2021

        Under Article 168 TFEU, public health is a competence shared between the European Union and EU member states. EU states define and deliver their national health services and medical care, the EU seeks to complement national policies by means of its Health Strategy which include cross-border events.

  10. Mike Wilson
    January 31, 2021

    So, the EU is not a Christian institution. Who said it was?

    And it doesn’t have an Established Church. Are we saying there should be bishops with guaranteed seats in Brussels? Seriously?

    Reply This is an answer to Archbishop of C

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