By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
URK, NETHERLANDS (BosNewsLife)– The Dutch town of Urk, known for its many churches and fishing traditions, says it will not dismiss public servants refusing to officiate at gay weddings, despite a draft law adopted by parliament forcing municipalities to fire registrars opposing same-sex marriage.
Urk’s local government said Wednesday, November 16, it has employed seven registrars. “Four of them refuse to marry gays and lesbians. If the government decides they must be dismissed, Urk refuses to do so. Homosexuals can still be married by the other three officials.”
Urk’s announcement came after Dutch parliament on Tuesday, November 15, supported a motion to crackdown on at least 104 known civil servants refusing to oversee same-sex marriages.
Christian registrar Wim Pijl said he would launch legal action against the Dutch city of The Hague where he was fired last week for opposing same-sex weddings. Pijl reluctantly presided over a marriage of two men recently, saying publicly he had not been warned ahead of time.
“As a Christian I learned from the Bible that there is only one marriage, between a man and a woman,” he said.
The Hague said through a spokesman it had no other choice than to fire Pijl because he refused to take back his remarks.
Johan Th. Bos, a veteran Dutch journalist and author reporting on evangelical Christianity, called the developments part of growing persecution of devoted believers in the Netherlands, which was long known as a tolerant nation.
“I think it will be difficult for Urk to violate the planned law on civil servants opposing gay-marriage. There is in the Netherlands growing opposition towards believers,” added Bos, who is also special correspondent for online news agency BosNewsLife.
“The persecutors deny wrongdoing, saying their actions are to ensure nobody is discriminated against,” he said.
Bos wrote the controversial Dutch bestseller ‘Ik ben niet meer ‘zo'”, or “I’m no longer that way” in 1969 about Dutch Christian leader Johan van der Sluis, who claimed to have been “healed” from his homosexuality after he became a believer in Jesus Christ.
The journalist isn’t the only concerned Christian, however. “The Netherlands may soon have a ‘thought police’,” warned Kees van der Staaij, who leads the strict Protestant Dutch Reformed Political Party (SGP).
The top legislator said Pijl was dismissed “not because he concretely refused to preside over a gay marriage, but because he expressed his views on same-sex marriage.”
Van der Staaij said the policy undermines his nation’s long cherished freedom of conscious. Tuesday’s motion was tabled by the left-leaning opposition GroenLinks, or ‘GreenLeft’ party.
The ruling People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) opposed the move, but failed to get a parliamentary majority.
The Netherlands became the world’s first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001, but Pijl stressed this had not led to more tolerance in this nation of nearly 17 million people. “I can not discriminate gay couples, but I am discriminated against because of my views.”