January 29, 2016

Flying Spaghetti Monster recognised by Dutch Chamber of Commerce

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 8:51 am

fsm-dennis-van-zuijlekomThe Dutch branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has scored a small victory. On Tuesday the Utrecht Chamber of Commerce has allowed the church to be entered in the company register, NOS op 3 writes.

The Chamber of Commerce had initially refused to register the church, but replied after an appeal that “there is not a sufficiently solid (legal) basis for a continuation of [our] refusal.”

Legal recognition of a church can lead to many tax breaks, according to an article in Trouw in 2004. Another battle, the right for pastafarians to wear their religious hat (a colander) in passport photos, has yet to be won.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in 2005 by American Bobby Henderson after the state of Kansas had decided that the Christian dogma of creationism should be given equal weight in the classroom to the scientific theory of evolution. Henderson felt it was important that the children of Kansas should be taught the real origins of life: “I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel.”

In 1998 about 32% of the Dutch identified as Catholic, with Ietsism coming in as the second biggest religion at 18%. I estimate the percentage of self-identified Pastafarians to be less than a tenth of a percent.

(Photo of a Pastafarian worshipper in full regalia by Dennis van Zuijlekom, some rights reserved)

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March 18, 2012

Orphans castrated in Catholic boarding school in the 1950s

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:47 pm

NRC reports that the Roman Catholic church has been castrating minors in the 1950s.

In one case the victim was a boy who had been sexually abused by a priest in a Roman Catholic boarding school. The paper says there are indications that the church castrated dozens of more boys. The church had hoped to ‘cure’ the boys from ‘homosexual behaviour’.

In 2010 the church appointed a committee led by former education minister Wim Deetman to study sexual abuse of minors within the church. In its report, the committee somehow failed to make any mention of the castration cases, even though it knew about it.

The current right-wing government has always blocked a parliamentary enquiry into widespread sexual abuse by the Catholic church. Coalition partners VVD, CDA and PVV claim that this is because an enquiry would be of no use to the victims.

According to the optimistic Deetman report, the rape machine that is the Catholic church made tens of thousands of victims among children in the Netherlands alone between 1945 and 1985.

Last week Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) cheerfully reported at a congress for fundamentalist Christian youths—it is still anybody’s guess what he was doing there—that for him as a liberal, judeo-christian principles are very important. Somehow I doubt this government will do much to stop the criminal practices of white religions.

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July 24, 2011

Catholics are getting into shopping on Sundays

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 10:10 am

In the past ten years the percentage of Dutch Christians who shop on their prescribed day of rest has risen, FOK reports.

In 2000, almost 39 % of the Roman Catholics shopped on Sundays, in 2010 that was more than 50 %. Sabbath shoppers among the members of the Dutch Reformed Church made up 21 % a decade ago, and are now up to 25 %. The numbers for the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (yes, there is a difference) are 12 % and 16 % respectively.

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May 21, 2011

Cartoon about sexual abuse RC church stolen from Limburgs Museum

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 3:22 pm

Last Thursday a cartoon depicting an altar boy raped with a crucifix was stolen from the Limburgs Museum in Venlo, Limburg.

According to Nieuwsblad, the thief took the drawing and just walked out.

The cartoon was made by Peter van Straaten for Vrij Nederland magazine, and netted the artist the Inkspotprijs 2010 award for best political cartoon of that year. It was part of an exhibition on cartoons, and was to be shown in Utrecht in October.

Meanwhile Toby Sterling reports that a priest of the Roman Catholic Salesian order was discovered to have been a board member of the Martijn Foundation, which tries to promote child abuse [1]. The priest’s membership was known to his superiors, who did not think it a big deal. Predictably the Catholic Church claimed “the church utterly rejects pedophilia”. “Dutch Catholic Church spokesman Pieter Kohnen said Saturday that […] if Superior Claes did not act quickly to reform the Dutch Salesian order’s leadership, the matter would be referred to Rome.”

[1] I’d link to the Association’s website, but it portrays children in a sexualized context, which might get readers in trouble.

(Illustration: Vrij Nederland / Peter van Straaten)

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November 1, 2009

Venlo made up foundation legend to fool the church

Filed under: History,Religion by Branko Collin @ 3:48 pm

In elementary school I was taught about the founding legend of my city of birth, Venlo. The story went that the leader of a local tribe, the Bructeri, fled a lost battle with the rival Chamavi tribe towards the fertile ground on the Meuse river in 96 AD.

In remembrance of this chief, called Valuas, giant dolls of him and his wife had been carried around the city for ages, and all kinds of companies, schools and clubs had been named after him. Valuas was Venlo.

Recently though I learned it’s all a crock, and all it took was a visit to Wikipedia. There is no such legend. Instead, the story was made up in its entirety in the 18th century, because the bishop of Roermond wanted to outlaw the use of dolls depicting Goliath and his wife in processions.

With Goliath given a new, non-religious identity, the bishop could no longer object to what was basically idolatry. Today, the local ceremonial shooting club, Akkermansgilde, still carries giant dolls of Valuas and his wife Guntrud around in processions and during carnival.

(Photo of Venlo city hall by Wikimedia user Michiel1972, some rights reserved.)

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May 16, 2008

Second beatification on Dutch soil

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 12:12 pm

There are only a few steps to holiness according to Roman Catholic creed, and beatification is the penultimate one. On June 29, Sister Hendrina Stenmanns of the Servants of the Holy Spirit mission congregation in Steyl will be the second person to be beatified on Dutch soil (though not the second Dutch person to befall that honour). The Pope will be represented during the ceremony at the open air theatre of Tegelen, Limburg by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins.

At least one miracle: that’s what it takes to be beatified. In May 1991, when Pope John Paul II declared that Sister Hendrina had fulfilled all other obligations, and all that needed to be done was wait for a miracle, which later came to light had apparently already happened in 1985 when a young Brazilian survived an operation after a nurse had prayed to Sister Hendrina.

Hendrina Stenmanns was one of the founders of one of the four mission congregations of Steyl. That once thousands of missionaries a year lived and studied in this small village on the steep East bank of the river Meuse at Tegelen to be sent out over the world has made this one of the quaintest places in the country. Steyl is hidden from the main road and therefore from view by the small city of Tegelen, and somebody passing through would likely miss it. Only if you approach it from across the river can you see the village in its full, oversized splendour.

The village of 3,000 inhabitants contains four large monasteries, and an even larger number of churches, among which the church of St. Michael with its two floors, so that two masses could be held at once for the many student missionaries. There’s also a botanical garden and a Mission Museum (1931) that’s kept in its original state, a museum of a museum as some would have it. As a child I’d go there just for the giant stuffed and mechanised bear just inside the entrance. If you fed it a coin the machinery would spring to life and make the creature move its arms.

The Dutch word for beatified, by the way, is “zalig,” which is also used as a synonym for good or delicious in the South and in Flanders. In English, the Germanic root of the word, gesælig, evolved to mean foolish, frivolous: silly.

Via Blik op Nieuws (Dutch). Photo by hifi_ninja, some rights reserved.

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August 17, 2007

Ring my bell no more

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:11 am

Pastor Harm Schilder of the Heilige Margarita Maria church parish in Tilburg was fined 5,000 big ones (euro) today and already another 5,000 big ones last Friday because his bell rings too loud. Too loud means 80 decibels instead of 70 decibels, which in laymen’s terms is the difference between a car and a noisy factory. Nevertheless, when the bell hits you very early at 7:15 am, I can imagine it’s loud.

The pastor was told by his boss the bishop not to ring the bell until they get the volume fixed. Stay tuned until next Friday.

(Link: Omroep Brabant)

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