Views from the Pews - Promoting peace through the EU

St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church, Dalkeith
St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church, Dalkeith

I was born 23 years after the end of the Second World War, writes Rev Sandy Horsburgh (St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church).

I grew up with stories of my father’s childhood evacuation from Glasgow, of my grandfather’s service as an army doctor in North Africa and Italy, of the night Clydebank was blitzed and a shard of shrapnel landed in my infant mother’s, fortunately, unoccupied pram.

I was a teenager at the height of the Cold War. I never thought I’d visit countries like Hungary or Poland. Nuclear annihilation was expected.

I grew up in the shadow of war – war remembered and war anticipated.

The Europe of my childhood and youth was a divided place. I am still under 50. How quickly we forget.

In 1950, the then French Foreign Minister proposed the formation of a European Coal and Steel Community. Recognising these were the basic materials for making weapons, he proposed that the means of their production be bound together so that no country of this continent could ever wage war on a neighbour again.

His stated aim was to “make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible”. From this visionary proposal, the European Union eventually grew.

Now comprising 28 member states, the EU is the single largest and most successful peace building and peace maintaining organisation anywhere. No member state has ever gone to war with another. That is a remarkable achievement.

The EU has also done much to protect the environment, to promote prosperity and higher living standards, and to protect fundamental human rights.

It is not perfect, but no human institution ever is. Living in peace, caring for creation, looking after neighbours and sharing resources are principles which are at the core of the message of Jesus Christ.

The Church of Scotland has had a long history of supporting the EU, seeing its benefits as a promoter of peace and a means of sharing the wealth of its members to the mutual benefit of all.

No church should ever tell people how to vote but, on this Referendum day, it is my prayer that those who cast their ballot do so mindful of Christ’s call to all people to share what we have, to support and care for one another, and to seek peace.