Religion Renegotiated: Faith-Based Organizations and the State in the Netherlands since the 1960s
Recent controversies in the Netherlands strongly suggest that the relationship between the religious landscape (i.e. faith-based organizations, religious individuals) and the state is being redefined and renegotiated. The Staatkundige Gereformeerde Partij (SGP) can no longer exclude women from passive suffrage, Jewish and Islamic communities nearly lost their prerogative in the Netherlands to engage in traditional ritual slaughter, and Dutch parliament only recently abolished the law on ‘scornful blasphemy’. These are but a few issues that illustrate the newly contested relationship between state (both national and local government as well as judicial bodies) and religion.
This research offers a historical examination of the grounding for Dutch government policy toward faith-based organizations – old and new, from all religions. It offers a longitudinal study of the Dutch political debate about how these organizations should be regulated by government policy. The primary aim is to uncover the sometimes subtle ways in which faith-based organizations were (directly and indirectly) accommodated in the public square by governmental bodies, and how the claims of these groups were weighed in respect to other groups, and to the rights of individuals. The project re-examines some central claims of the secularization paradigm, particularly regarding processes of (de-) privatization of religion, and the role of political actors in (re)shaping the religious landscape.
To arrive at an understanding of the shifting frameworks of state-religion interlocution, the project focuses on the various politico-juridical debates at the national-, and local (municipality) level since the 1960s. In addition, ample attention is paid to the role of supra-national actors (i.e. the European Union) in the shaping of these debates.
Leonard obtained a Bachelor in Sociology at Utrecht University in 2008. In 2009 he graduated at the University of Amsterdam from the academic master Social Theory and Public Affairs on a study of Modern Witchcraft and Wicca in the Netherlands. In 2013 he graduated from the Research Master Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts at Erasmus University Rotterdam on a study of the role of religious pluralism in individual trajectories of identity reshaping (cum laude). Between 2010 and 2013 he taught at the Sociology departments of Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam (e.g. introduction to the social sciences; sociology of religion; organizational sociology; Policy and evaluation research; and various courses in research methodology). His main research interests circle around cultural and political change in contemporary Western Societies. More specifically, he is strongly interested in the (reshaping of) religious identities, both within Christianity, Holistic spiritualities, and the occult.