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A church without a religion

© 6 January 2019 Marthijn Uittenbogaard

Almost twelve years ago, 28 January 2007, I wrote a Dutch text about a church without a religion. Now I am gonna write the same - sort of - article, but this time in English.

Today in the news is the fact that more than two hundred Dutch church leaders signed the so called Nashville Statement [2]. Also members of parliament from the Christian party SGP signed this statement. The statement is against the so called gay marriage, against trans people. It is against all gay sex. Gay people are welcome in the church, but they are not allowed to live in 'sin'.

Religion in the Western World is declining. In The Netherlands, now more than half (51 percent) of the population is no longer a member of any church or mosk. On average, the amount of religious people in The Netherlands drops with 267 people a day [3]. This will continue, is the expectation, because the highest percentage of religious people are people above 75 years old. Of them, 71 percent is religious. [4] To give you an impression of the decline of the amount of religious people: In 2012, 54 percent said they were religious. Five years later, in 2017, this dropped to 49 percent. Only the muslim religion is increasing (slightly). The Roman Catholics and the Protestants lost many members over the last four decades. In 2017 only 24 percent is Roman Catholic, 15 percent is Protestant {This 15 percent can be divided into: 6 percent Dutch Reformed (the religion of my parents and myself when I was young), 3 percent Continental Reformed and 6 percent member of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands}, 5 percent is muslim and 6 percent is a member of other religions, like Judaism or Buddhism. The youngest generation is the less religious. In the United States of America, much more people believe in god, believe in the world being created in only six days, et cetera. But also in that country, the amount of religious people has started to decline. Hooray!

But I remember I heard something one day. In Germany, in area's where religion declined the most, the Nazi-party, NSDAP, got the highest percentage of the votes. A society that loses the religion feels like an orphan. The social cohesion is lost. People are wandering, searching... they are vulnerable when a strong leader seduces them. They still have many restrictive norms, that the Church propagated for centuries. When a Adolf Hitler comes along, blaming scapegoats, so the people can feel one community again... In The Netherlands, the religious political parties lost many seats over the last decades. Whom are these people voting for today? Very conservative and intolerant politicians are gaining more and more votes.

In 2004 I interviewed pastor Hans Visser [5]. I asked him what he thought about a church without any religion. He immediately said that we have such a thing already: the Humanistisch Verbond. And he talked about other stuff without discussing this topic any further. But the Humanistisch Verbond is totally not comparable with a church. They have no weekly meetings where a large amount of a neighborhood goes to. It is an organization were white, rich, individualized people are its members mostly. Not a whole community. My mother listens to a local church on the radio. She hears who is ill, who has died, who has been born. People need some kind of binding with the people around them. If not, they fear each other much more than necessarily. A lot of them are lonely, much more than necessarily.

What I wrote in 2007 was this idea: let's build sauna's (bath houses) in every neighborhood. The Roman Empire and the Old Greeks had bath houses, many people in the far east have such kind of sauna's. Everyone is welcome, like in a church. Once a week you go there (if you want). You hear the latest people being born, people that passed away, and the latest gossip. Every week, one person speaks for an hour, not a pastor, but a writer, a philosopher, anyone with something interesting to tell. After this talk, people go into the water to relax. If people are afraid of 'bad touching', then place camera's in every corner and even under water. They will be gone one day, when people are not so crazy and fearful anymore. Nothing bad will happen, only people meeting each other, socializing.

Many people need such a place to go to. And if you don't wanna go: then you just don't go. People can learn from the weekly talks, people can meet each other. Today people need scapegoats (again) to 'socialize' with each other. But that is not socialism, it's fascism. Religious fascism or Nazi kinda fascism. They are closely connected with each other. Good people can do terrible things when they feel lonely, angry and abandoned. I'm referring to The Netherlands, to Germany, to France, to the UK, to the USA, and so on, anno 2019.

[1] Minder van hetzelfde - - 28 January 2007
[2] Nashville Statement on wikipedia:
[3] Ontkerkelijking zet door, amper vertrouwen in religieuze organisaties - - NOS - 19 December 2018
[4] 'Meer dan de helft Nederlanders niet religieus' - - EO Visie - 22 October 2018
[5] Interview met dominee Hans Visser - De dominee die niemand uitsluit - Marthijn Uittenbogaard & Jeroen Maaskant - - 1 June 2004

Does the above text accidentally contain a typing, spelling, grammatical or factual error?
Or do you want to react to it? Then I hope you will get in touch.
"Wees eerlijk en laat zien wie je bent."
"Kinderen moeten veel meer zeggenschap krijgen."
"Alle zedenwetten moeten weg."
"Pedohaat heeft niets met seks te maken."
"We gaan verkeerd met seksualiteit om."
"Hoe zinniger wat je zegt, hoe bozer men wordt."
"Zonder pedofilie zou de wereld veel armer zijn."