National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland

Theme: Politics without God

The keynote speaker in Glasgow on June 21, 2006, was George Weigel, a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in Washington, DC; a Roman Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading commentators on issues of religion and public life. The Center was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues.

One of America’s foremost public intellectuals, Weigel argues that Europe’s abandonment of its spiritual and cultural roots raises urgent questions about democracy’s future around the world.

Weigel traces the origins of ‘Europe’s problem’ to the atheistic humanism of the nineteenth-century European intellectual life, which set in motion a historical process that produced two world wars, three totalitarian systems, the Gulag, Auschwitz, the Cold War and, most ominously, the continent’s de-population, which is worse today than during the Black Death.

And yet many Europeans still insist, most recently, during the debate over a new EU constitution, that only a public square shorn of religiously-informed moral argument is safe for human rights and democracy.

Precisely the opposite is true, Weigel suggests, asking: can there be any true “politics”, any true deliberation about the common good, and any robust defence of freedom without God? George Weigel argues powerfully that the answer is “No” because, in the final analysis, societies are only as great as their spiritual aspirations.