Just getting to this story from the Netherlands: the Cabinet of the Netherlands has announced a new law (which will go into effect later this year) reaffirming its previous decision banning all “face-coverings” worn in “public spaces, public buildings, educational and health care institutions and public transport.” There are carve-outs in the law for those face-coverings necessary for “health, safety or the practice of an occupation or sport,” as well as for certain holidays including “Sinterklaas . . . Carnival, and Halloween.” The justification for the ban is described as follows: “Open communication is vital in public places. Wearing clothing that covers the face is not appropriate in an open society like the Netherlands, where participation in social intercourse is crucial.”
A couple of days ago I wrote that reports about the prevalence of secularism in Britain may be exaggerated. According to an article last week in Der Spiegel, reports of secularism in the Netherlands would not be. The article profiles Marc de Beyer, an art historian in Utrecht whose specialty is church artifacts – statues, crucifixes, altars, and the like. Lately, de Beyer has been getting a lot of work as a consultant on church liquidations. When a church closes, he can be very helpful in advising which objects will sell, and for how much. Pews are much in demand. Der Spiegel says that “Christianity’s retreat from society” has been very pronounced in the Netherlands, where two churches close per week. The Protestant Church alone loses 60,000 persons a year. At that rate, the article says, the Dutch Protestant Church “will cease to exist” by 2050.