Dutch town bans public swearing

2nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 June 2005, AMSTERDAM — The municipal council in the Bible belt town of Staphorst in the east of Holland has voted by a large majority to ban swearing in public.

2 June 2005

AMSTERDAM — The municipal council in the Bible belt town of Staphorst in the east of Holland has voted by a large majority to ban swearing in public.

The ban has immediately added to the town's public ordinances, Staphorst Council announced on Thursday. Staphorst has a population of 15,000.

The motion calling for the introduction of the ban was a joint effort by local branches of the Christian parties, ChristenUnie and SGP. The local authority passed the measure by 13 votes to four.

Only the two representatives of the Labour PvdA and the two members of the joint Liberal VVD and local interest group voted against it.

While the ChristenUnie and SGP are small parties nationally, they dominate Staphorst, a very traditional, Christian stronghold that is described by one coach tour operator as a town that "hasn't changed in 300 years".

Another says women in Staphorst never wear trousers, except metaphorically, and most residents attend Church twice on Sunday.

Some, though not all, of the locals oppose television, blood transfusions and inoculations against dangerous diseases such as polio on religious grounds.

The conservative SGP has six members on the town council. The party's founding principles dedicate it to fighting against all forms of emancipation, including the emancipation of women.

The more moderate ChristenUnie has four members on the council and the Christian Democrat CDA of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has three seats.

The Christian parties on the council said they wanted to take a stand against the use of vulgar language in public. It is primarily a symbolic gesture as there are no sanctions for breaking the cursing ban.

The SGP has already managed to introduce a cursing ban in the Reimerswaal municipality in the southern province of Zeeland.

The ban in Staphorst is a toned-down version of a ban that was in operation in some areas of the Dutch bible belt until 1986.

In that year, the bans and their associated sanctions were struck down for being contrary to the freedom of expression.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news, religion in the Netherlands

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