Going Dutch: Netherlands Imports Nashville Statement Controversy


Latest translation of US evangelical document on LGBT issues divides Dutch Bible Belt and leads to criminal threats against a Christian politician.

When the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) debuted its treatise on gender and sexuality at a Southern Baptist conference in 2017, the mayor of Nashville condemned its affirmation of traditional marriage and biological sex as well as its use of her city’s name.

A year and a half later, government officials 4,300 miles away are debating the legal ramifications of the document in The Netherlands, where 200-plus evangelical Protestants recently signed a Dutch translation of the Nashville Statement.

The country’s public prosecutor began investigating this week whether backing the “Nashville Verklaring,” as a Christian political party leader has done, violates anti-discrimination measures in the Dutch constitution. Among its 14 points on sexuality, the Nashville Statement declares that same-sex marriage, gay identity, and transgender identity do not reflect God’s design for humanity.

The conservative Christian proclamation hasn’t gone over smoothly in the Netherlands, which became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001 and where just 15 percent of the population believes in God. LGBT advocates in government buildings, businesses, and affirming churches and Christian colleges flew rainbow flags yesterday to oppose the Nashville Statement.

While more conservative Protestant leaders repeat the defense made by their counterparts in the US—that the document represents the church’s longstanding position on marriage and sexuality—fellow Christians worry that they have divided the church by bringing American culture wars onto Dutch soil.

“This document undoubtedly brings deep divisions among Christians in the Netherlands,” wrote Jan Wolsheimer, …

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