“The Netherlands is no longer a religious country,” what does that mean for our mutual understanding?
An example of this misunderstanding: the discussion about keeping places of worship open during closures, says Huijnk. “I’ve seen misunderstandings from lay people about the ‘only’ need for believers to go to church or mosque during lockdown. Non-religious people don’t understand very well what that means for religious people.”
Another example is the wearing of the veil on public occasions. “It is difficult for some infidels to imagine what it means to wear or take off the hijab for some Muslim women.”
There are already new forms of “religious intolerance” in the Netherlands, says Muslim scholar Boyan Al-Tamimi Arab. “But we also should not exaggerate the mutual understanding of the past,” he asserts. “For Queen Wilhelmina, it was a question of whether Catholics were loyal to the Netherlands. It’s not that the Dutch were more tolerant decades ago than they are now.”
According to Huygenk, there is a task on the government to reduce mutual frictions and tensions, for example through education. “Of course there is a focus on understanding sexual and gender diversity, but there can also be a greater focus on religious differences between people.” Al-Tamimi Arab agrees that understanding religion is really important to combating friction. “This means: do not judge on the spot, but make an effort to understand others.”
In search of the meaning of yourself
Another consequence of secularization is that more people are now searching for meaning for themselves. “Those who want to give meaning to life cannot rely less on ancient religious institutions,” says Al-Tamimi Arab. He says this brings problems.
“For example: When someone dies, what should you do if you don’t believe in anything? How do you organize that? We’re constantly working on it, and we’re finding out in new ways.” According to the SCP, mental problems, such as fatigue, are latent.
“I see that young people are looking for a place where they can go home,” Van Krimpen says. “Where they don’t have to perform or be the perfect self where that is sometimes the case on social media. To a place and faith in a God who says, ‘You are as good as you are.’ And that is a rebellious message in this day and age.”
Avid music fanatic. Communicator. Social media expert. Award-winning bacon scholar. Alcohol fan.