“The Netherlands is no longer a religious country”, what does this 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 secular people about the ‘only’ need for believers to go to church or mosque during lockdown. Non-religious people don’t quite understand what that means for people. religious people.

Another example is the wearing of the veil on public occasions. “It’s hard 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, according to Muslim scholar Boyan Al-Tamimi Arab. “But we shouldn’t exaggerate the mutual understanding of the past either,” he says. “For Queen Wilhelmina, it was a question of whether Catholics were faithful to the Netherlands. It’s not that the Dutch were more tolerant decades ago than they are now.

According to Huygenk, the government has the task of reducing mutual friction and tension, for example through education. “Of course, the focus is on understanding sexual and gender diversity, but there may also be a greater focus on religious differences between people.” Al-Tamimi Arab agrees that understanding religion is really important to combat friction. “It means: don’t judge on the spot, but make an effort to understand others.”

In search of a sense of self

Another consequence of secularization is that more and more people are now looking 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 that causes problems.

“For example: when someone dies, what should you do if you don’t believe in anything? How do you organize this? We are constantly working on it and discovering 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 come home,” says Van Krimpen. “Where they don’t need to perform or be perfect where they sometimes do on social media. To a place and faith in a God who says, ‘You’re as good as you are. And that’s a rebellious message these days.

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