Friday, February 17, 2023
Over the years, the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) has often been attacked, criticized and maligned. Most of these times, the information related to us was truncated, distorted or simply untrue. We decided it is time to address this and, hopefully, correct the record. We choose to do that here, on our website, to save us the time and energy it would require to contact every author and newspaper editor who was less than accurate in their description of us (although we have done that, too).
The ECPM was established and functions as a platform, an alliance of Christian parties and individual members from all over Europe, passionate about advancing Christian values in our societies. In the eyes of the European institutions, we are formally a political party, but it is useful to understand that European parties are not directly elected, do not have direct representatives and cannot directly create or influence legislation. A European party is a coalition of national political parties and elected members, each with their own profile and characteristics. As an example, at national level, it is MEP Ruissen who is voted on, it is his party- SGP- who is campaigning and its members who are voting on candidates, statutes, internal regulations, resolutions etc. which concern them. It is he who initiates or co-authors a resolution in the European Parliament, not ECPM per se, even though he and his party are members of the ECPM. The bigger European parties function and are structured in similar ways, but it may seem less obvious because they also form the groups in the European Parliament and the lines between what the group does and what the party does are blurred.
Our party is unique in Europe for two reasons: it openly and explicitly promotes Christian values in politics, and it successfully gathers under its banner members from all major Christian denominations. Those are also our vulnerable points.
On one hand, we are being constantly attacked from outside by people who would like to paint us as Christian fundamentalists, narrow-minded, and so on. Our efforts and creed of bringing our whole selves (including our Christian beliefs and character) to the workplace are distorted by bad-faith actors into a reductionist, backward image. It is argued that we would like to eliminate the separation between Church and State (or religion and politics). Nothing could be further from the truth. Historically, theocratic societies did not fare well and just as we disagree with the government imposing its views on the Church, we also disagree with the Church imposing its views on the government. The ECPM acknowledges the pluralistic society we currently live in, and we subscribe to the Christian-Democratic ideology. We recognize these two spheres as separate but interdependent. Most politicians in Europe today speak about values like freedom, equality, human rights and affirm their commitment to upholding them, but fail to mention where these ideas come from. We are not shy to say that these wonderful principles have their origin in Jesus’ teachings, that modern ideas of human dignity and solidarity are rooted in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the Apostles’ letters and in the Church Fathers’ writings. Christian teachings, contrary to the belief of those maligning us, are positive and empowering, they’re meant to make the society thrive.
On the second aspect mentioned above, being a platform for politicians of many Christian denominations is unique but also challenging. Each denomination and culture has its priorities and focus, which means ECPM members from various denominations and various countries may display various interests or approaches. However, there are core beliefs on which all Christians agree and, likewise, there are central issues (like our seven spearheads) to which all ECPM members subscribe. The sheer vastness of our network and the diversity of interests means we are not a one-issue party, it means we collaborate with each other and just as “iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (King Solomon’s Proverbs 27:17). It is impossible for everyone to agree on everything, but the center is strong, and the center holds.
If ECPM as a whole believed or wanted to promote any of the radical positions we are unjustly accused of, we would have done it. We would have put it in our Manifesto and our website and would have stood by it, if we all agreed and believed that is the way to go. But we don’t, and we didn’t. From its inception, the ECPM was very clear on its moderate character, very clear on the fact that we do not wish to divide or “other”, but to seek Bible-based solutions for current problems and to act as bridge-builders in the political landscape.
Regarding ECPM’s association with former or current members who said or did controversial, inflammatory things, there are a few things to clarify. We have a general political line detailed in the 2019 Manifesto (currently, our political program) and we also have an unwritten code of conduct. Whenever we felt that any of our members violated the code of conduct or went blatantly against our seven spearheads, we discussed it with said member, disciplined them internally or terminated their membership when the situation called for it. Freedom of speech allows one to hold various opinions, even opinions unpopular in the mainstream. But the line is drawn- and we draw it decisively inside ECPM- when free speech veers into hate speech, incitement to violence or discrimination against categories of people. We absolutely and categorically distance ourselves from any fascist or neo-fascist inclinations one might display. Beyond that, our members are free and best suited to decide how they want to engage their electorate, what rhetorical methods to employ, how often and under what circumstances to speak to their voters.
Everyone makes mistakes, whether you are a leftist progressive (as the recent Quatargate shows), a right-wing nationalist or a moderate Christian democrat. In politics, everyone makes alliances and coalitions with less-than-ideal partners, we all vote holding our noses sometimes. Not an excuse, just a description of the way things are. ECPM made mistakes, too, which we regret and admit, but we were also unjustly labeled one too many times. Human dignity, economic growth which benefits people and planet, fighting abusive systems like human/sex trafficking and forced labor, standing for the fundamental right of everyone everywhere to believe and worship according to their faith- these are the things we stand for. Indeed, we support and defend traditional marriage and the family structure because we acknowledge that, historically and socially, these institutions have provided the best framework for growth and happiness. We are unapologetically pro-life because we believe we are created by God and intrinsically worthy. That does not mean, however, that we are forming “secret societies” plotting to undermine democratically elected governments or that we seek to ban entire communities. Our intentions have always been to show that Christians can, and should, be involved in the public and political life in a positive, constructive way. Though we may stumble in this process, we will press on and do our best because we believe it is just and democratic for Christians to have a voice and to be represented at all levels of decision-making in society.