Contested Secularities: Religious Minorities and Secular Progressivism in the Netherlands

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In this paper, we propose to analyze ideas, practices, institutionalizations, and public controversies related to the religious-secular divide in the Netherlands in terms of contested formations of secularity. We introduce the concept of ‘multiple secularities’ and use it as an interpretive device for an analysis of the historical emergence and transformation of Dutch secularity. After that we show how historically shaped notions of secularity operated within the parliamentary debates on blasphemy, freedom of speech, and religion that unfolded between 2004 and 2009. We argue that long-standing notions of secularity as a means for balancing religious and ideological diversity are challenged by and give way to a new preponderance of secular progressivism. By secular progressivism we mean the idea that within an ‘immanent frame’ in which the secular ontologically embodies the ‘real’ and constitutes the ground for normative universalism, religion turns into a historical vestige whose protection must be subordinated to universalistic notions of civic liberties. However, this development is still contested in the Netherlands.

Contested Secularities: Religious Minorities and Secular Progressivism in the Netherlands

in Journal of Religion in Europe

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Frank J. LechnerThe Netherlands: Globalization and National Identity (New York: Routledge2008) 75 79.

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24)

Mepschen“Sexual Politics” 964.

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29)

Talal AsadFormations of the Secular: Christianity Islam Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press2003). See also José Casanova “Public Religions Revisited” in: Hent de Vries (ed.) Religion: Beyond a Concept (New York: Fordham University Press 2007) 101–119.

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Ann Swidler“Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies,” American Sociological Review 51 (1986) 273–286378–379.

39)

Lechner“Netherlands” 107.

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Arendt LijphartVerzuiling pacificatie en kentering in de Nederlands politiek (Haarlem: Netherlands1992).

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Hans Daalder“Ancient and Modern Pluralism in the Netherlands: The 1989 Erasmus Lectures at Harvard University,” Harvard University Working Paper Nr. 22 (1989–1990) 33.

44)

M.P.C.M. van Schendelen“Verzuiling en Restauratie in de Nederlandse Politiek,” Beleid en Maatschappij 5 (1978) 42–64.

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Friso WielengaDie Niederlande: Politik und politische Kultur im 20. Jahrhundert (Münster: Waxmann2008).

51)

Van Dam (2011) has recently criticized the concept of pillarization as a myth that paints an overly static picture of Dutch society. We partially agree but deem it justified using the concept with regard to the dominant mode of organizing diversity. Peter van Dam Staat van verzuiling: Over een Nederlandse mythe (Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek 2011).

54)

Van der Veer“Pim Fortuyn” 118.

55)

Lechner“Netherlands” 103–105.

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62)

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63)

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64)

Mepschen“Sexual politics” 970.

70)

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71)

Geert Wilders“Genoeg is Genoeg: Verbied de Koran,” Volkskrant 8.8.2007. http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2686/Binnenland/article/detail/870859/2007/08/08/Genoeg-is -genoeg-verbied-de-Koran.dhtml (accessed 27 October 2010).

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Job Cohen“Sociaal-democratie en religie: de omgekeerde Doorbraak,” Socialisme en Democratie 7/8 (2006) 49–53.

76)

TK 22 1285.

77)

TK 22 1289.

82)

TK 22 1282.

83)

Geert Wilders“Speech by Geert Wilders on the first day of the General Debate in the Dutch parliament,” Geert Wilders Weblog (18.9.2009). http://www.geertwilders.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1595 (accessed 1 December 2011). Importantly Wilders has managed to mobilize significant influence on public discourse through his activity on Twitter which has more than 160.000 followers. On the “Wilders case” see also Lisanne Groen & Martijn Stronks Entangled Rights of Freedom: Freedom of Speech Freedom of Religion and the Non-Discrimination Principle in the Dutch Wilders Case (The Hague: Eleven International Publishing 2010).

84)

TK 22 1293.

90)

CW 2010“Clara Wichmannproefprocessenfonds wil procespartij worden in rechtszaak SGP voor Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens” Proefprocessenfonds Clara Wichmann (14.10.2010) http://www.clara-wichmann.nl/actueel.php?item_id=63&list_type=search&type_content=sgp (accessed 1 December 2011). CW 2011 “Donner passeert de Hoge Raad voor SGP” Proefprocessenfonds Clara Wichmann (20.4.2011). http://www.clara-wichmann.nl/actueel.php?item_id=69&list_type=search&type_content=sgp (accessed 1 December 2011).

91)

CGB 2008“Advies Commissie Gelijke Behandeling inzake gewetensbezwaarde ambtenaren van de burgerlijke stand: Trouwen? Geen bezwaar!” Commissie Gelijke Behandeling (CGB) (April 2004). http://www.trouwambtenaar.nl/adviescgb.pdf.

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