A bizarre loophole that allowed religious schools to ban gay teachers was closed in the Netherlands on 1 July.
The law on equal treatment already forbade firing or refusing to hire teachers strictly because they are gay. An exception however existed for added circumstances, leading to the strange situation that a teacher could not be fired just for being gay, but could be fired for being gay and kissing somebody of their own gender.
In Dutch this exception was called the ‘enkelefeitconstructie’ (the ‘single fact construct’). The strange exception had remained in the 1994 law in order to keep Christian party CDA happy, but in 2014 almost all CDA MPs voted to remove it. According to the government, the exception has always been a dead letter, as no judge has ever allowed it to stand in a court of law.
Churches’ freedom to found religious, state-funded schools is considered part of the freedom of religion in the Netherlands and is enshrined in Article 23 of the constitution. Teachers can still be fired from religious schools for belonging to the wrong church, as three teachers from the Reformed Wartburg College found out last June after they were rebaptised by a different Protestant sect, AD writes.
See also: Church unlawfully fires woman for being transgender
Tags: Christianity, constitution, education, homosexuality, human rights, law, teachers
Transgender woman Rhianna Gralike, 56, has been wrongfully dismissed from her job as treasurer of a Catholic parish in Flevoland for nothing else than being a transgender woman. A few months ago she was called into the pastor’s office and was told that “being transgender goes against the Church”, a ‘message’ he was asked to pass on from the archbishop. Gralike plans to fight her dismissal even if she has to go to Rome to do so, which I hope is not necessary, considering there are laws in the Netherlands that supersedes any religion-based gut-feeling of an excuse to fire someone for their gender.
The Parish council is on Gralike’s side, saying the dismissal doesn’t match changes in society (an odd way of putting it), and her lawyer says the Church has no grounds to fire her whatsoever. The archbishop refuses to discuss the matter with Gralike, and so we’ll keep you posted.
(Link: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, Photo by Johan Wieland, some rights reserved)
Tags: Catholic church, church, transgender
A trampoline centre in The Hague is the latest in a long list of businesses in the Netherlands to open in a former church building.
Planet Jump opened in the Martelaren van Gorcum church in The Hague earlier this month. Cheekily dubbed a ‘trampoline paradise’ by Den Haag Direct, they are open seven days a week. Have a look at the photos on their website.
Repurposing a ‘holy’ building may seem a little irreverent, but as we wrote earlier, it seems that people prefer repurposing over tearing down. These buildings have memories of baptisms, weddings and funerals attached to them, after all.
Also, in what other church could you achieve so many instant ascensions in an hour?
The name Martelaren van Gorcum means martyrs of Gorcum and refers to 19 catholic officials who were killed in 1572 by Dutch Protestant freedom fighters.
See also: The man who sells church interiors
(Photo of a trampoline park in Memphis by Memphis CVB, some rights reserved)
Tags: churches, exercise, exercising, Gorcum, Gorkum, jumping, martyrs, The Hague, trampolines
The students graduating from Amsterdam’s Rietveld School of Art & Design (in Dutch, Gerrit Rietveld Academie) will be exhibiting their graduation projects until Sunday 6 July 2014.
24 Oranges was invited to come and take a peek.
Some of the works, such as the dog above, were displayed without any explanation of what the student was trying to say—probably not necessary with a Disney-like creature anyway—or even the name of the maker. (There were sticky notes carrying the name Tim Maarse near this sculpture, but it wasn’t quire clear if the sticky notes referred to the sculpture or were a work unto themselves).
Other artists, such as photographer Casper Koster, left extensive documentation behind for visitors to peruse and take home. His series ‘Coulissen’ portrays actors as they are waiting in the wings of a stage for their next scene.
Setareh Magshoudi made a mobile mosque of paper: “From my own experience arose the need to create a space for my daily prayers, a temporary space which would provide private space and at the same time a sacred sense.”
Jessie Hoefnagel was knitting something big. Unfortunately, her seat was in a warm spot because of the sun, so by the time I got there all I found was a note saying “not here until it gets bearable”.
When I had finished walking around, three hours had passed and my feet were sore. Where did the time go?
I will post some more photos to Flickr when I get the chance (and will hopefully be able to add more names of the artists at the same time). Meanwhile, check out the exhibit in person if you have the chance or visit Trendbeheer, as Jeroen Bosch took a load of pictures.
Tags: mosques, sculpture
The king of tracksuits, media phenomenon and self-proclaimed stylist Roy Donders, has gotten himself in a spot of bother over his last name.
Donders is involved in a loyalty scheme for the Jumbo supermarket chain that lets football fans save up for a garish orange tracksuit (dubbed cheering suit) as part of the commercial frenzy leading up to this year’s World Cup and has lent his name to the slogan “We geven ze op hun donders” (‘let’s give ‘em hell’, except that ‘donder’ means ‘thunder’).
This, according to Telegraaf, angered shoppers in the bible belt for an as yet unexplained reason. Citizens of Barneveld asked the local supermarket to remove all advertising for the scheme. The store manager gave into their demands.
Ma Donders was furious, Omroep Brabant wrote: “I don’t know what kind of faith these people have, but Donders is our last name. You cannot change that.” Meanwhile the issue has become moot because of a run on the hideous tracksuits—Jumbo claim to have run out. A spokesperson told Omroep Brabant that sales felt like “Christmas in May”.
See also: Tracksuit king Roy Donders quits his house parties
(Photo of Donders holding his track suit’s jacket: Jumbo.)
Tags: Barneveld, Jumbo, Roy Donders, supermarkets, World Cup 2014
Hasan Kücük of the Islam-Democraten was chided as if he were a child when he wanted to take the oath in order to become a council member of the the city of The Hague. “You know the text is different”, Mayor Jozias van Aartsen said last Thursday during the swearing-in ceremony.
Kücük had said “Zo waarlijk helpe mij Allah” (“so help me Allah”). According to Parool council members may choose from only one of two phrases for the swearing in, “so help me God” and “I promise”.
Confessional paper Trouw added that the rules actually differ per municipality. In the past, the paper said, civil servants of Amsterdam sometimes used the words “as Allah the merciful is my witness”. A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior said in defence of practices like that of The Hague that “the name ‘God’ doesn’t have refer to the Christian god.”
It turns out the Dutch armed forces are the least bigoted of government institutions, perhaps for reasons of tradition. When Indonesia, a largely Islamic country, was still a part of the Netherlands called Dutch India, its officers were allowed to swear an oath on Allah. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said that “one’s religion should not interfere with one’s duty, but an oath doesn’t do that”.
(Photo: public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Tags: discrimination, Islam
Money willed to the bishopric of Utrecht earmarked for the congregation of Mother Theresa has been used by the impoverished bishopric to cover the administrative costs of dealing with the church’s many child abuse victims’ claims, NRC writes.
In 1994 Cornelia Witkamp of Utrecht left 300,000 euro to the church. She wanted the Missionaries of Charity to come to the city and help “the most destitute and abandoned of society, amongst which drug addicts”. The next year, the bishopric created a foundation called Stichting Caritas Moeder Theresa which was to execute the will. Unfortunately, the congregation never came. The foundation seems to have chosen to do the next best thing, which was to spend the money on similar causes.
However in 2012 the money that was still left, 166,000 euro, was donated directly to the bishopric which promptly started using it to cover running costs, among which the costs involved with running an office for dealing with the child abuse cases the Roman Catholic church is famous for.
At this point the NRC article devolves into a minor mud slinging match in which a spokesperson for the bishopric accuses whistle-blower and former board member of the foundation Jacques Klok of using money from the will to buy gifts for the bishopric’s staff.
If you’ve been following the news lately you will probably find this small fry compared to the bishops from the USA and Germany who were discovered building palaces and spas for themselves.
(Photo by Michele Ahin, some rights reserved)
Tags: bishops, Catholic church, charity, last will, Mother Theresa
After getting the local press to write about him, Ton van Wingerden, 74, managed to cause a run on coffee grinders at the local Blokker (household goods shop) in Goeree-Overflakkee. An employee told Hart van Nederland they’re “selling six coffee grinders a week, which is a lot for such a device.”
Van Wingerden’s miracle cure is the powder of ground oyster shells. It’s not quite clear from the original article what the powder is supposed to heal, as with all alternative medicine it appears to heal everything the sufferer believes it will heal. Also unclear is why the national press is picking up on this now considering the original story ran last spring. Other methods for crushing oyster shells as reported to Van Wingerden were walking over them in clogs, squashing them between the jaws of a vise or wrapping them in a tea cloth and then hitting them with a hammer.
Goerree-Overflakee is one of the staunchest Christian bulwarks in the Dutch bible belt and is the southernmost part of the province of South Holland. It also borders on Lake Grevelingen where oysters are cultivated.
(Photo by Suzette Pauwels, some rights reserved)
Tags: Goeree-Overflakkee, oysters
Refoweb, a website for Protestant Christians, has a feature called ‘Vragen’ (‘Questions’) in which people ask an ‘expert’ what a good Christian should do in certain situations.
Last week the question was put before theologian Izak Kole whether incest—and to be clear, what was meant was forced sex of a parent with an underaged child—is grounds for divorce.
The answer of Izak Kole was: “No, incest is not grounds for divorce. Being unfaithful is the only biblical reason for divorce. Incest by the husband with children does cause sadness though.”
Later Izak Kole ‘nuanced’ his answer by stating that where there is penetration, there is adultery and in that case, divorce is acceptable. Until that first real rape happens, Izak Kole suggests it might be an idea (“if necessary”) to call the police.
(Link: De Gelderlander; photo by Johan Wieland, some rights reserved)
The recent history of religion in the Netherlands is one of continuous secularisation. One interesting phenomenon of that process is ietsism (literally ‘somethingism’), the belief that something must be lurking behind reality, we just don’t know what it is.
If that sounds vague, it’s probably because it is. The category ietsism did in fact not exist until 1996, the year in which it was invented by The Netherlands Institute for Social Research who needed a label for a phenomenon that they and others had noticed, the phenomenon that people who aren’t affiliated with any specific religion aren’t necessarily atheists.
Poet Marjolein de Vos said according to Trouw at a symposium about ietsism in 2006: “Maybe there is a mystery that supports our reality. Ietsism is, I believe, another word for ‘searching’.”
Theology professor Gijs Dingemans said about ietsists that they “generally have no great philosophical interest. They would just like to know if somebody is running the show, if somebody will fix things once we’ve messed them up or at least has some kind of control over our chaotic world.”
History professor Christiane Berkvens-Stevelinck has a more positive view of ietsists, who according to her may be “people who are averse to dogma and who have rediscovered the source of an uninhibited philosophical and theological curiosity, namely a sense of wonder for the unknowable, the unseen, the Mystery.”
Interestingly the English language Wikipedia entry about ietsism is called (drum roll) … ietsism. Perhaps Dutch researchers needed the label the most.
In 1998 17% of the Dutch people self-identified as atheists according to the International Social Survey Project, 12% as agnostic and 18% believed in an undefined ‘higher power’.
The chart below shows the development of religious affiliation in the Netherlands. I created this chart based on numbers from Statistics Netherlands. Note that the two main protestant churches merged in 2004, but Statistics Netherlands still counts them separately. The Islamic church is not counted separately, but about 5% of Dutch citizens are muslim. Agnosticism, atheism and ietsism are presumably folded largely into ‘unaffiliated’. And last, one of the great unresolved mysteries in life according to me personally is the chart tool in LibreOffice, which is why the left third of the chart spans more than hundred years whereas the right two-thirds only accounts for forty years.
Tags: agnosticism, atheism, church, ietsism