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Impact of religion

The impact of religion on society

The general focus of an article from James C. Kennedy and Jan P. Zwemer is the impact of (organized) religion on the political and social structures of the Netherlands. This essay selects from Dutch religious history three important themes. The first pertains to Dutch church-state relations in the nineteenth century, most notably an early disestablishment (i.e., the withdrawal of official government support of particular church bodies) and the decreasing ability – and willingness – of a Protestant ‘Establishment’ to determine by the late nineteenth century the social, political and religious contours of the Dutch nation-state. The second theme concerns the so-called ‘pillarization’ (verzuiling) of Dutch society, in which the country was ostensibly segmented along religious and ideological lines, replete with religious political parties that for half a century (1918-1967) maintained a solid electoral majority in Dutch politics. Finally, the third and last theme focuses on secularization, understood here as the decline in influence of religious ideas and institutions on public and private life. The Netherlands’ historically high percentages of those professing no religious affiliation, combined with a rather dramatic decline of religious subcultures in the 1960s, makes the country seem, especially in recent decades, an example par excellence of ‘secular Europe’. Despite this development, since the beginning of the twentieth century, religion has again become a central element in the public debate.

James C. Kennedy, Jan P. Zwemer (2010). "Religion in the Modern Netherlands and the Problems of Pluralism", BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 125 (2-3), p. 237–268.
See also: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, "Over half of the Dutch population are not religious", 23 October 2018.

D 30 October 2018    ASipco Vellenga

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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