Dutch Bible Belt

The United States and the Netherlands share a regional social-religious phenomenon called the Bible Belt, also known in the Netherlands as the Bijbelgordel. In both countries the Bible Belt is a strip of land which is inhabited chiefly by a concentration of segregated conservative Protestants.

Areas where the Political Reformed Party recei...

The Dutch Bible Belt with religious prevalence shown in red

The Netherlands, best known abroad for its liberal policies on sex, drugs and homosexuality, is also home to a Protestant Bible Belt. It is a world away from big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, where society is a lot more free and diverse.

Just 90 minutes’ drive from Amsterdam and its temptations is a village so devout that swearing is banned, women refuse to wear trousers and the bank machine does not dispense cash on a Sunday.

The Bijbelgordel stretches from Zeeland, through the West-Betuwe and Veluwe, to the northern parts of the province Overijssel. According to official figures 41 percent of Dutch have no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, 12 percent Protestant, 6 percent Reformed Protestant and 6 percent are Muslim. Currently, the traditional Dutch churches have around 250,000 members.

The Protestant faith in the Netherlands is fragmented. Besides the traditional Protestant church, there is also a more fundamentalist Reformed Protestant Church, formed in the 19th century.

When Flanders and North Brabant were reconquered by the Spanish army during the Eighty Years’ War, their Protestant inhabitants were required to either convert to Catholicism or leave. Many emigrated north of the border, particularly during the Twelve Years’ Truce of 1609 – 1621. Many of them later became staunch supporters of the pietist movement known as the nadere reformatie (further reformation).

In Bijbelgordel communities, a strong religious tone in public life is accompanied by conservative outlook and an emphasis on traditional values: a preference for large families (protected sex is frowned upon); children attend special religious schools; parents are suspicious towards state-run vaccination programmes; women are not allowed to ‘rule’ in a professional capacity and are not expected to work when they start a family.

The Bijbelgordel differs from Dutch society in many aspects, amongst them a regular Sunday church attendance – often twice on a Sunday. The region also bears a strong contrast to the traditionally Catholic provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg in the south and northern parts of the Netherlands where Sunday church attendance averages between a mere 2% to 3% of the population. Overall, the Netherlands become increasingly secular with every passing year.

In the Bible Belt however, conservatism slows this trend. The doctrine of the faith plays a central role in the life of the more fundamentalist communities. Consequently, they typically oppose the liberal ways of Dutch life – perpetuating their segregated outlook on life. Nevertheless, secularisation is causing the Bible Belt to slowly shrink and become clustered into ever smaller societies.

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5 thoughts on “Dutch Bible Belt

  1. Pingback: religion in America vs Europe - Page 7 - City-Data Forum

  2. I guess being more “free” and “diverse” isn’t better by default, it’s like saying that Bjiebelgordel people, just for being more conservative, are better. There must be reasons to support your point of view. Demographically, conservatives win. What can liberals say, otherwise than an emotional victory?

  3. “I guess being more “free” and “diverse” isn’t better by default.”

    Arguably, nothing is. As for explaining the general benefits of freedom and social diversity , you might want to read up on that yourself, because that could take a while.

    “Demographically, conservatives win.”

    – Meaning?

    PS Please consider: Conservatism and Societal Health

  4. Well, if we talk about “moral relativism” (everything can be true) then freedom can’t be to do bad things, talking about morals.

    Demographically… the much higher rates for conservatives will make liberals less common in the next generation (sure, the exception will be with forced education as it happened with a jailed man who wanted their children to not see the school’s movies about sex, movies for 6 years old kids, that happened in Netherlands). Europe is dying because that freedom and moral diversity is accepted without any questions, it’s okay to not have children, to abort, to not have a family, the usual “freedom” in Western World.Talking about diversity… it’s not hard enough to understand that accepting other lifestyles is getting costly for Europeans, if we see minorities having traditional families and getting much more stronger only by birth rates. Muslims are dominating your countries. Sweden will be a third world country in 15 years. For what is that “freedom” (if we can call it freedom, because it’s a circular reasoning to accept your concept about freedom, about societal health to make your argument not a fallacy)? The reality is showing us a very disgraceful perspective, and it is getting worse. For what is accepting prostitutes, drugs, if that can’t help to maintain a society over time, and actually it is destroying it? In Amsterdam, if my memory isn’t wrong, 25% of the population doesn’t even speak Dutch: they speak Turkish, or Arabic. You don’t even need to be like those Muslims (because, sincerely, there are a lot of bad things in their morals, unfortunately, things that doesn’t attack their birth rates): it’s enough to have morals and understand that families exist for a certain reason, that a traditional lifestyle exist for a certain reason: destroying everything, considering everything good in the name of diversity and freedom, is really a good thing? I’m not even a Christian, but if I want to have an own moral code, I have to accept the good things from others, not just calling everything freedom and doing what I want, instead of what I should do.

    Sorry for my English, by the way.

  5. It’s unclear whether you are a moral relativist yourself, I presume not, but it doesn’t shine through that clearly.
    However, you do seem to be concerned with birthrates, particularly, the “outbreeding” of one culture with respect to another, I shan’t go into that.
    Next, I read some erroneous statements about Sweden and the Netherlands, and probably Europe in general.
    But perhaps most worryingly of all, you seem to believe that anything other than narrow mindedness is thrust-upon by a deluded State. Rather worrying.

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