Dutch Pastors face possible criminal investigation for signing the Nashville Statement

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Jim's picture


The country’s public prosecutor began investigating this week whether backing the “Nashville Verklaring,” as a Christian political party leader has done, violates anti-discrimination measures in the Dutch constitution. Among its 14 points on sexuality, the Nashville Statement declares that same-sex marriage, gay identity, and transgender identity do not reflect God’s design for humanity.

The conservative Christian proclamation hasn’t gone over smoothly in the Netherlands, which became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001 and where just 15 percent of the population believes in God. LGBT advocates in government buildings, businesses, and affirming churches and Christian colleges flew rainbow flags yesterday to oppose the Nashville Statement.

While more conservative Protestant leaders repeat the defense made by their counterparts in the US—that the document represents the church’s longstanding position on marriage and sexuality—fellow Christians worry that they have divided the church by bringing American culture wars onto Dutch soil.

“This document undoubtedly brings deep divisions among Christians in the Netherlands,” wrote Jan Wolsheimer, director of the evangelical council Missie Nederland, just a couple months after he applauded the historic ecumenical partnership around the marathon asylum service in The Hague.

“In addition, I find it from a pastoral point of view a document that will give a lot of grief in those circles where people have a different opinion on homosexuality and gender issues.”

Lawmaker Kees van der Staaij—the leader of the Reformed (as in Calvinist) political party, Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP)—faced criticism in the Dutch capital for signingthe document. A Christian university has admonished the professor who initiated the Dutch translation. Fellow believers, even those who may share an opposition to same-sex marriage, have lamented it as unhelpful and polarizing. A political cartoon in a Christian newspaper represented the Nashville Statement with a country singer crooning about being a “looong way from home.”

Bert Perry's picture

....is that the Dutch tradition of religious tolerance is even older than that of the U.S. or Great Britain.  It would seem that there, as here, religious freedom and the re-definition of marriage are strongly at odds, and it is the latter that is clearly dominant in the Netherlands these days.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.