"Democracy Is an Invention of the Devil"

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Democracy Is an Invention of the Devil"

Strong words from a radical cleric who lives here in the Netherlands (registration required and in Dutch; will even a single person click through?):
[The cleric] told the gathering that "democracy is an invention of the Devil." He expressed the hope that "once more, someone will rise up...who will banish democracy, so that there can be a theocracy and only God will be glorified."
A politician from the local council who was present at the event where the cleric spoke has come under fire for not having said something at the time.

The cleric is J. Lohuis, a pastor in the Protestant Church of the Netherlands. He was speaking at a ceremony marking his departure from a church on the island of Tholen in Zeeland (for more on the province for which New Zealand was named (by the Dutch explorer Tasman), check out the brochure "Everything You Should Know about Zeeland").

I put in the ellipsis in the quotation above to try to leave it unclear which religion this man represents. What he actually wished for was someone to rise up "like William of Orange" and chase away democracy, which is kind of funny. It was William who led the rebellion that ultimately chased away the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands, and their inquisition, and ushered in the era of the United Provinces, with their religious freedom and tolerance and, for their time, fairly democratic governance as a republic. But to an orthodox reformed Protestant like Lohuis, the key fact is that William and his successors kicked out the papist overlords, allowing Dutch Calvinists to ascend to the pinnacle of society. (It was his descendant, also called William of Orange, who became King of England at the time of the Glorious Revolution and defeated the Catholic King James II in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne, which is why Protestant marchers in Northern Island today wear orange).

I feel bad for the Christian Democratic Party council member who was sent to represent the council at the ceremony. Now the Labor Party and a tiny party whose name translates as something like "General Interest of Tholen" have criticized him for not standing up against the pastor's words at the time. I'm not sure what he was supposed to do. Anyway, since the Christian Democrats are Catholic, they're hardly eager to usher in a Calvinist theocracy. And the entire council has adopted a resolution saying it has "distanced itself completely and totally from the pastor's statement."

The local press, meanwhile, has been speculating and interviewing experts about whether Lohuis can be prosecuted, or at least sued in civil proceedings, for his words.

Welcome to liberal Holland!

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