Regarding the Feb. 22 article "What place for God in Europe?": There is definitely a place for God in Europe. It might not be in the European Constitution, but rather in most European souls. He might be called various names in various languages, but He is there in what they think, in what they do, and in the way they lead their lives.
One must also understand that while Europe is becoming more of a single entity, it's committed to maintaining its diversity. Europe is built on respect for Christianity, but also for other religions that share the same values, which are clearly enumerated in the Preamble to the European Constitution.
The article asserts that religion in America has been at the forefront of social reform, but it would be more accurate to say that religious faith and religious groups have played an important role in our political and social debate, rather than to characterize religion as having taken the lead in reform.
Also, Americans have tended to emphasize freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Our Constitution is every bit as secular as that of the EU. Many early American religious leaders favored this constitutional secularism because they believed that secular government is essential to freedom of religion. We seem to be losing sight of this belief, and our doing so probably influences our perceptions of European secularism.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Secular Europeans are obsessed over religious violence in centuries past, but do not recognize that National Socialism and Communism were both secular (atheist) forms of government that resulted in the murder of millions of people. Their belief that religion was the cause of "religious wars" is inaccurate; in fact religion was abused by national governments to advance their own political power and influence.
Secularism is a religious belief system; secularists simply fail to recognize it as such. Without some moral foundation higher than their own personal beliefs, the secularist government will inevitably degenerate again into totalitarianism.
A need for spirituality doesn't necessarily mean a need for God. For religions such as Buddhism, there is no need for a superior being but there exists deep spirituality.
If a schism is developing between believers and nonbelievers, as the Feb. 23 article, "In a secular ocean, waves of spirituality," suggests, then we will need to define belief.
Is this a belief in a higher being or a belief in some ethereal spirit? Or do we just believe because we are scared of death?
As long as God and fundamentalism rule our politics, there will always be a battle for the hearts and souls of others to be swayed to their singular belief.
Maybe what's needed is a new spirituality where a religion exists without a belief in an all-knowing superior God, similar to Buddhism, or we should all grow up and respect people with divergent beliefs and decide to keep ours personal and private without introducing them into the public sphere.
As a Spaniard who lived in Europe for several years and now lives in Miami, and as a practicing Christian, I am concerned about the spiritual bankruptcy of Europe.
I understand the concern of some that the forces of religion will once again become haughty and try to force unhealthy policies on the populace. However, just because of past mistakes, we shouldn't "throw out the baby with the bath water" and try to make religion go away.
Luis Francisco Segarra
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.