Below you can find my article in the christian Dutch Daily Nederlands Dagblad about church asylum in The Hague, the Netherlands. Does the church sufficiently realise in what context she lives? (See also the two (Dutch) blog texts below about church asylum)
Asylum in the mosque
The church asylum in The Hague deals with more than rights and duties of both government and church. An experiment in thoughts makes this clear. Suppose there is an islamic family in the same hopeless situation as the family receiving church asylum in The Hague, now. A mosque hears about this family and decides to render them asylum. Many imams and other islamic clergymen are drummed up to say the prayers in a relay-service so as to prevent the family from being expelled. As it is, one should obey Allah more than people and/or the government. And does not the Koran say that religion consists of taking care of outlawed people and to being merciful? Foreign and Home media report about the asylum the mosque renders. Aid funds are sent. Islamic organisations from all over the world are quick to respond.
Upto here, everything equals the situation of the chuch asylum in The Hague. As it is, religious people all have the same rights in our society. But then, the difference. How would the reactions be if a mosque would venture doing something like this? A small group of Dutch people might appreciate it. But for the most people would think this was the end! Government and also society would feel threatened. Rendering asylum by a mosque would enflame deeply felt anti-islamic feelings. It would also affect experienced problems concerning the arrival of many asylum seekers from other cultures. And there is more: think of the recent commotion around financing – and thus interference – of foreign islamic institutions in Dutch mosques. In short: from many sides rendering asylum by a mosque would be considered undesirable. I would not be surprised if pressure would be increased to put an end to such a form of asylum.
The above mentioned example makes clear what is at first sight invisible in the now rendered church asylum. There is something b elow this discussion. Faithful people in the country have equal rights. As it is, we are a free, multi-religious society. Yes: equal rights. But, yet, also a difference. A church can freely render asylum and organise a relay-religious service. Then, apart from an occasional remark, mostly enthusiastic reactions will be the result. And the government indicates that she will not enter the building (or even suggests that only a relay-service will prevent deportation). In the case of church asylum in a mosque things will be different. In tense situations – like the chuch asylum – we apparently fall back easily on old, trusted Dutch order. In this order the church was a social player of importance. A player that mattered, that has power. That order is hidden somewhere in our collective memory.
But the Netherlands are in reality post-christian and multi-religious. Churches, mosques, mandirs and all sorts of spiritual centra are sometimes situated side by side in a city district. And a majority in our country indicates to be non-believers. You cannot deny this reality. More important is that the church herself should not want to deny this reality. She cannot take in a position of being the favourite – like what, maybe unconsciously, happens now – in a case of church asylum. For, in this way the church implicitly confirms the image many Dutch people have: the church belongs to our (christian) history. This image does not do any good to our reliability. If only, because our (christian) history is rapidly extincting.
First of all, churches recognise that Jesus is Lord. He has all the power in heaven and earth. Jesus does not need an ancient order or certain rights from a (christian) past. He is Lord. Equally in and over a post-christian and multi-religious society. This is the Jesus the church has to radiate. This is her first vocation. Also in a tense asylum issue.
Christian Dutch Daily / Nederlands Dagblad. December 14th 2018