The Nashville Declaration hits The Netherlands© 8 January 2019 Marthijn Uittenbogaard
The number one issue in today's news in The Netherlands is the Nashville Declaration. This is a declaration from protestants from Nashville USA, that has been translated into the Dutch language. More than 250 prominent Dutch people, from within churches mostly, signed this declaration. Two members of our parliament also signed this petition, both from the very conservative Christian party called SGP. The SGP is Holland's oldest political party. It was formed in 1918. The party never had more than three seats in our parliament. The Dutch parliament has 150 seats, many decades ago this number was 100 seats. The SGP is an orthodox Calvinist political party and they want a theological state. Unlike other Christian parties, the SGP takes everything in the bible literally and it is against other explanations like Darwinism, and... you get the idea. In The Netherlands we have a so called bible belt. In these places the SGP is the dominant party in the local politics. So in our whole country they have only three seats out of the 150 seats. They get their votes mostly from people within the bible belt area.
The SGP has always condemned homosexual activity. All sex outside marriage they condemn. They condemn the so called gay marriage, they are against birth control, against pornography. Even watching television was not allowed until some fifteen years ago and the politicians of the party never went to a television studio, until some fifteen years ago. (God changed his mind about television, I guess.) They did not need the media attention: the bible belt community gave them their seats anyway.
Today and yesterday, many citizens were surprised when they read that the SGP is against homosexuality. This is strange, because when that party would be in favor of homosexuality, it would be news. But because many religious politicians were afraid to talk about this topic (including the ones from other christian parties), they used to be silent about it for many years. Until now, until this declaration. Now many people are confronted with christians against homosexuality, and against transgenders et cetera. And since we have hate speech laws, many people run to the police to file a complaint against the SGP. The Dutch prosecutors are looking into it, they stated today. And this I find dangerous. Last year, some people were convicted by a judge because they had spread a flyer with anti-homosexual texts written on it, through peoples mailboxes. So why can the SGP say the same kind of stuff, they reason.
Kees van der Staaij is the leader of the SGP. When he is forbidden to say what he believes about homosexuality then he can answer in three different ways if he is asked about this topic. One: he can lie abut it and say he is in favor of homosexual relationships. Thou shall not lie... Two: he can tell the truth and while doing so he is breaking the law. Three: he can say, I am not allowed to give my opinion about this matter. In that case we all know what is opinion is.
One hundred years ago, speaking in favor of homosexuality was against the morals of the majority. So sometimes opinions change. How do opinions change? Not be making it illegal to speak about them. So this is a strong argument why we never must forbid people to speak about their opinions. The united States of America has its First Amendment. In The Netherlands, people always say: we have freedom of speech but... And after this 'but', they will say that you cannot discriminate, cannot offend, cannot do hate speech. All these things are multi interpretable. In practice, judges attend to give the majority opinion at that moment, the green light and a minority opinion the red light.
I believe it is always better to let people say what they think. Other people can start a discussion with them. We must punish violence if people attack you because of your opinion. This is always a problem. Here and everywhere else. Remember all the gay people being beaten up, when they spoke out about their orientation, and the police that looked away (or were the abusers) and the politicians that looked away (or were the ones condoning it). The SGP, it may not surprise you, is not in favor of free speech at all. When everyone would vote SGP, our country would become a theocratic society, like Iran, not Islamic but Protestant. When such a theocratic society with suppression of thought, indoctrination at all schools, suppression of science and persecution of minorities and freedom fighters, even with the death penalty; then violence against its leaders is prohibited. The SGP is the only dutch party in parliament - we have 13 parties in parliament at the moment - that is in favor of the death penalty.
In 2016, I published a Dutch text about the freedom of speech.  I was thinking about starting a freedom of speech foundation. But due lack of other participants, I placed this idea in the refrigerator. One famous Dutch person was interested. But I thought we needed more famous people.
I did some interesting observations by they way, the last couple of days. Some I did not like to see: the people who want the SGP to be silenced by a judge. Like Leyena van der Laan, a politician (candiate) for the Socialist Party. Hope he chances his mind. I voted SP last election. And like the organization Atheïstisch Verbond, an organization of atheists.
But I saw also people speaking out against the petition, from organizations that used to be very against homosexuality. Willem Smouter, the leader of the EO (Evangelische Omroep / Evangelical Broadcasting), a Dutch broadcasting organization on radio and television, tweeted that he was against the petition. The EO used to be very much against homosexuality, and gay people were never invited into their studios. They did some filthy broadcastings about this topic in the past. When I was interviewed some years ago, by EO's Manuel Venderbos, I asked him, off camera, what the position was concerning the EO about homosexuality. He told me that most of the employees were not against homosexuality anymore and that they even had gay employees behind the scenes. But, as he said, the EO is still afraid to be pro homosexuality on radio and television because they are afraid to lose members. Many members are still much against homosexuality. I tweeted, I hope he read it, to mister Willem Smouter that I hope he will make a documentary about the struggle within the EO about this topic. An honest documentary with people in favor and also with people against it. I believe it is their duty to make such a documentary. Otherwise the EO was always against homosexuality and without everyone ever mentioning it: they act like there is nothing wrong with it (there isn't) and that it was always so within their ranks. It still feels like a dagger in the back for homosexuals, if they keep up the act that nothing of importance has happened within their own organization. An honest documentary about this would be wonderful.
Another thing I noted, again, is that the right wing partys, like PVV and Forum for Democracy (FvD), always keep silent about the SGP. They complain all the time about the muslim people, that most of those people are so homophobic. I believe the people behind the PVV and the FvD are idealistically not so far away from the views of the SGP.
 Stichting voor Vrijheid van Meningsuiting en Meningsvorming - marthijn.nl/p/154 - 25 March 2016