Now I have to worry about the Netherlands as well as Australia?

Actually, I can’t blame other countries for the fact that the USA is a magnet for far-right religious loonies. Of course their evangelists are going to come there — they know they’ll get some success here!

So I suspect this evangelical outreach organization from the Netherland — their statement of purpose is Convinced of God’s love for everyone, we tell stories about God and following Jesus. Stories that change lives, touch people and move them to live in love with each other — figured that not only would they go to the USA, but that they’d go to Texas, where they’d be welcomed with open arms, and get some great video footage they could use for fundraising back home. They optimistically marched a film crew into Central High School in Keller, Texas to interview students for god knows what purpose and started recording. They picked a day when the principal was not around, but they had been encouraged by a couple of school board members. We all know how little knowledge of education that politically and religiously active school boards have.

They did not get the response they expected.

Sandi Walker, a school board trustee brought an Evangelical-based film crew into the high school to conduct interviews with her. Multiple students and parents told WFAA children were filmed and interviewed by the production crew without their consent. Trustee Micah Young was also involved in the filming.

Evangelische Omroep (EO), a Netherlands-based Evangelical broadcast television network previously produced the documentary: ‘God, Jesus, Trump.’

“We don’t want politics in our kids schools,” Hawes said. “If kids wanna bring God into schools, beautiful, but it cannot be the administration. There is a separation of church and state.”

Elliot Mullaney, a freshman at Central High School said he witnessed the filming take place during his lunch hour.

“It’s an invasion of privacy,” said Mullaney. “I think that it’ll be used to spread hate and spread untrue opinions.”

Parents were pissed. These Dutch evangelists didn’t realize that while many Texans are receptive to Christianity, they are also ferociously independent and don’t take kindly to foreigners. Sandi Walker has already resigned, people are calling for the head of Micah Young, and evangelical interference in the schools has taken a small setback. That’s good — this is a school that recently voted to allow unlicensed religious chaplains free reign in public schools after a Christian Conservative PAC had spent half a million dollars to elect horrible people, like Walker and Young, to the school board.

Let’s not blame all the Dutch, though. The Netherlands has its own Bible Belt, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Evangelische Omroep was based in that.


  1. Matt G says

    I love it when the kids recognize their rights and rise up. It gives me a modicum of hope for the future. They just need to get out and vote, as soon as they’re eligible.

  2. robro says

    The “History” section in that Dutch Bible Belt Wikipedia article pretty much says why we have the “Establishment Clause” in the First Amendment…schism after schism. Not a good way to run a society. As sometimes noted: If the Bible has the one absolute god-given truth, why are there so many different churches.

  3. says

    Thanks, PZ for wading through all these cesspools and to awaken us to all this crap. (oh, no, awaken is a form of woke! LOL)
    texass; if it isn’t xtian terrorists, it’s gun play at schools. I feel bad for the few decent people that live in texass.

    the article below followed the article about the xtian terrorists from netherlands abusing students, WTF

    MESQUITE, Texas — A student was taken into custody after they entered a Mesquite charter school with a gun Monday morning, resulting in an officer-involved shooting as police responded, officials said. Police said the armed student was injured during the incident, but no other students were injured and no officers were injured.

  4. Walter Solomon says

    Europeans, particularly ones online, generally tend to have a skewered view of the US that lacks nuance. It’s not surprising that would apply to a European Evangelical Christian group as well. Wait ’til they learn that not every American owns a gun or watches football.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    with the exception of the Roman Pedo Church, I thought modern Europe was too civilized for religion.Looks like I have to cross another continent off my list of places I’d rather live (but can’t because I’m poor) than the shithole known as the USA.

  6. says

    Slightly embarrassed Dutchman here. For background; 54% of the 15 years and older population in the Netherlands is not religious.

    There is indeed a horde of different protestant splinter groups. For an atheist outsider like me they are mostly indistinguishable, to be honest. But some of them are pretty hardcore.

    There is one political party that most of these adhere to; the SGP. Generally they have around 2-3 seats (of 150) in our house of representatives. So they’re at most a support part of right-wing coalitions. Up to 2006, women could not even be a member of that party, IIRC. (Although it boggles my mind that they’d even want to!) Up to 2010 they did not allow women on candidate lists for elections. That year our supreme court found that this violates international treaties. Also a lower court ordered the government to stop subsidies of that party because of these violations.

    So yeah, the EO are evangelical, but they’re not the real fundies, because those don’t have TV’s.

    The real hardcore fundies are not vaccinated, of course. So whenever there’s an epidemic, no prizes for guessing which groups have the most cases. They also refused to close their churches during the recent coronavirus epidemic lockdowns. The latest polio epidemic in the Netherlands in the 1990s was mostly confined to the bible belt, and it is the only area in the country where the sewage is still actively monitored for enterovirus.

    In general, I would say “live and let live”. But withholding vaccinations from your children is a bridge too far for me.

    When I was young we used to go on holiday near the the town my father grew up in. The villages around that town were very much part of the bible belt, and you’d draw disapproval from the locals for riding your bicycle on a sunday!

    On the other hand, my grandparents were protestants. During WWII they put the life of their family on the line by harboring Jewish refugees and resistance activities, because they were convinced that was the right thing to do. They were not alone in that, and many of those people paid with their lives.

  7. djudge says

    I second rsmith. The EO is pretty meek.
    A feeling I get from the video is that for some the film crew being ‘foreigners’ is a bigger deal then their religion.

  8. StevoR says

    … produced the documentary: ‘God, Jesus, Trump.’

    I’ve been known to say those last few words – generally preceeded and followed by a lot of ruder ones. Often with quite a lot of “What the..”‘s thrown in.

  9. Duckbilled Platypus says

    I can’t believe I’m going to take it up for the EO here, but…

    No, they’re not based in the Dutch Bible Belt, they broadcast from the same city as where all the other Dutch publicly financed broadcasters are. Yes, they come from evangelical roots, but over the decades they have only managed to get their survive-by share of viewers by creating both on-brand and off-brand programming (including current affairs and documentaries). Some of which has won acclaim, and they can count Christians and non-Christian alike among their viewers.

    The “God, Jesus, Trump” documentary mentioned above sounds like a red flag in this context. But it was a series by an established (but yes, Christian) reporter interviewing people to find out what on Earth compelled his ‘fellow’ Christians to vote for this disaster. We just don’t have that brand of red state Christianity that you do.

    The articles linked above give me access denied so I don’t have the details of what happened at this school, but I doubt the EO crew walked in there expecting to make a promotional video for proselytizing at home. I also suspect that someone didn’t know what rules and permissions must apply when filming in an educational institution, with students in view. Whether that is on the film crew or the school board member, or both, I don’t know.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    Not all kooks are religious. Our Swedish xenophobe party is value-conservative without being particularly christian.
    We have a tiny christian democrat party but they seem to have screwed themselves by taking part in a coalition that needs the support of the xenophobe party. It seems they have lost a lot of voters who cared about social issues.

  11. jrkrideau says

    Stacy ??? (I did not catch the surname). : “These people from a whole different country that we know nothing of”.

    Brilliant parody. Worthy of an Oscar, at least.

  12. larpar says

    @rsmith #6
    “So yeah, the EO are evangelical, but they’re not the real fundies…”
    They are young earth creationists. That’s fundie enough to keep them away from schools.

  13. M'thew says

    At least EO broadcast quite a lot of nature documentaries, including David Attenborough productions, as long as they’re light on the evolution bit. Of course that’s meant to show the beauty of Dog’s creation, but thankfully they don’t change the voice-over to proselytise.
    Fun fact: Urk, a fishing community on a former island that’s now incorporated into reclaimed land (polder), is one of the most conservative among Bible Belt areas. Research has shown that quite a few of the younger generation there use cocaine, and there is a problem with fishermen smuggling cocaine. A lot of it. Although that might be better explained by the fact that nowadays it’s very hard to make a living catching fish and seafood, making fishermen an easy target for criminal gangs who prey on the fishermen’s fear of having to give up on their traditions.

  14. neuzelaar says

    Yes, you have to worry about the Netherlands, but not about its religious fundamentalists or the EO (Evangelische Omroep) that taping a program in a Texas school. Instead, we need to worry about right-wing pro-Putin nationalistic Geert Wilders whose party is the largest with 25% of the votes.

    @rsmith #6 and @Duckbilled Platypus #9 already mentioned the misconceptions about the Dutch Evangelische Omroep public TV station. They are indeed evangelical and quite literal in their beliefs. But the material they produce is nowhere near as nefarious as what we are used to here in America. In fact, the EO produces many rather thoughtful programs and stays away from anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-evolution propaganda that defines the US Christian right. Their journalists are clearly anti-Trump, so as far as Christians go they are mild. In fact, the EO ‘Unbelievable Podcast’ with interviews is in my weekly rotation for in-depth discussions about morality. Even though I do not often agree as an atheist, the EO represents decent, social, and thoughtful people that are more trustworthy than – for instance – the libertarian or incel corner of the atheist movement.

    Apart from a possible privacy violation, this outrage seems way overblown. Without knowing the topic of the program, the kids are very unlikely used as props in Christian propaganda.

  15. says

    @Duckbilled Platypus (9):

    We just don’t have that brand of red state Christianity that you do.

    Oh yes we do, just not as many. We don’t have many aggressively Christian folks. But I would like to remind you of the fringe political party Jesus Leeft! (“Jesus Lives!”) for an example.

  16. KG says

    So (#9, #13, #14), the politico-religio-cultural landscape of the Netherlands doesn’t map neatly onto that of the USA. Who could have guessed?!

  17. neuzelaar says

    #16 : that is an astute observation.

    For starters, only 39% of the Dutch believe in God or some higher power, vs 91% of Americans. Also, the Dutch don’t have a culture of Karens on school boards freaking out over books or filming.

    Unfortunately, non-religious right-wing nationalism has gained significant traction in the past years. They are mainly anti-immigration, but also in various degrees anti-woke, anti-LGBT, anti-vax, anti-EU, anti-democracy, anti-intellectual, anti-environment as well as pro-Putin, and pro-big agriculture. Many less-educated people have moved from the social democrats to the hard right parties. Left wing parties have become the parties of higher educated people.

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