Religious School’s Chairman Destroys 3,000 Student Planners Because They Include Image of ‘Satanic’ Peace Sign

This is a page from a planner given out to the 3,000 students at Pieter Zandt, a Protestant reformatory school in the Netherlands (click to enlarge):

See anything wrong with it?

Check out that one guy’s shirt. With the peace sign on it. That’s the problem.

Parents complained to the head of the school because they believed the symbol to be a sign of the Antichrist.

Even worse, the school’s chairman agreed and destroyed all of the planners:

School board chairman Johan van Putten told Trouw that after checking with Google, he found the peace symbol is a ‘Nero cross’ which in Roman times represented the torture and killing of Christians and has now come to be associated with Satanists.

van Putten told Trouw he realises wasting good paper is a poor example to his pupils. ‘But you have to understand, it was the lesser of two evils,’ he told Trouw.

According to website Goedgelovig, the diary was designed by six pupils. Pownews says replacing the diaries has cost €15,000.

I’d love to know what search terms van Putten typed in that told him the peace sign was Satanic and not about, you know, peace. How afraid is this guy of the parents at his school that he’s unable to write them back a letter saying, “You’re wrong”? Nope. Too difficult. Much easier to just waste their money instead of correcting their misconceptions, I guess.

(via Slacktivist)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Blacksheep

    I’ve been in and around conservative churches in my life, never heard that one.

    The peace sign is a blend of two semaphore signals for “N” and “D”, standing for “Nuclear Disarmament.” (Flags down, flags held out at low 45 degree angles).

    • Michael Harrison

      Two points. One: he’s criticizing what he thinks is a symbol of torture in killing, in defense of a religion whose main symbol represents a device used for torture and killing?

      Two: The BS I heard is that the peace sign is an upside-down, broken cross, thus a mockery of the Christian symbol; that was in a forwarded e-mail, if I recall correctly.

  • WallofSleep

    The first I heard of a peace symbol as the sign of the anti-christ was in a Jack Chick comic back in the day. Not sure where this idea originated, though.

    EDIT: trying a different link…

    • CarysBirch

      Sweater guy reminds me of young William Shatner.

  • charvakan

    Netherlands??? I am so disappointed :-( – and here I was hoping that one day our country will become secular like them…

    • WallofSleep

      The nice thing about blinkered idiots is that they are spread quite evenly throughout the world.

    • Glasofruix

      Don’t worry, in a country with legal pot and gay marriage this kind of idiocy is a minority.

      • the moother

        Legal pot? Not for long…, They’ve closed the majority of coffee shops in the last 10 years. In some cities it’s halved and in others legal sale is now banned.

        Unfortunately, in general, idiocy is alive and well in The Netherlands. It’s become a far less tolerant country and an especially vindictive one at that.

        I defy any Nederlander to say otherwise. It’s a terrible place to be now. The air of freedom and veneer of equality have long left. What is left is racism and xenophobia to a degree that is gobsmacking.

        Ten years ago you would still hear people say with a smile, “in Nederland kan alles” (you can do anything you want in Holland) with the proviso, of course, that you didn’t bother anyone else. You NEVER hear that said at all anymore… It’s a racist, and intolerant and xenophobic country and it sucks.

        Anyone who claims that the Netherlands is a free and egalitarian country only needs to look to Geert Wilders and the PVV who started their platform with anti-islam but soon showed that they were hateful of just about everyone.

        They started a website called “Meldpunt Midden en Oost Europeanen” (Report Central and Eastern Europeans). The acronym “MOE” means “tired” in Dutch and the basis of the website was that if you are tired of your drunken and noisy Polish neighbours that park badly in your street then you could give their names and addresses to the modern-day nazi party of holland.

        The PVV holds a third of cabinet seats and you can bet your bottom dollar that of the 20% of foreigners in Holland, an insignificant few of them voted for Wilders. That means that close to 50% of the Dutch condone this type of fascism and are happy to show their support for it in the voting booth.

        There are far more enlightened places to live in Europe where pot smoking is accepted and gay marriage legal. Spain and Belgium come immediately to mind.

        Kanker Nederland… land vol kanker racisten…

        • Glasofruix

          I’m lucky to live in southern Belgium then, the north and the south have radically different politics (and the north is full of assholes). In my frequent trips to Holland (grocery shopping in Maastricht, not pot trips) i’ve only met friendly people though, even when i scratched a car on a supermarket’s parking lot there was a very nice old dude who helped with translation for the insurance papers.

          • the moother

            Yeah…, try living there a while then… a neighbour of mine once asked another neighbour, “what’s up with the tinted guy?” because, apparently, I’m not white enough for her. I’m pure European, I can assure you of that but because I don’t have blond hair and blue eyes she needs to refer to me as an outsider.

            And the black dude living above me: they complained to the cops about him, said he was a dealer and that his music was always too loud. All bullshit of course but some of them couldn’t help themselves in trying to scrape the brown off of their street… They eventually succeeded though… They got the council to force the landlord to sell his appartments.

            Fucking racist scum. And this all in Rotterdam (Zuid nogal!) that’s about 50% foreign so it’s not like they never seen dark skin before.

        • WallofSleep

          I was there a little over ten years ago, and had a great time. It’s been sad, sitting on this side of the pond and watching what’s been going on in the last decade w/r/t the PVV, Wilders, and the rise of euro-facists.

    • the moother

      Read more below.

  • Jordan

    I know this is horrible, but how easy would it be to randomly troll uninformed religious people and convince them that something they are doing is satanic? Sadly, they usually have so much money it wouldn’t even matter.

  • busterggi

    He’s right – Christianity has had almost no connection with peace during its entire history.

  • Beth

    Yup, I was in a youth group that asked me not to wear a peace sign shirt again and they made me wear my coat while in the church to cover it up. My mother flipped her shit when I came home and threw a brand new shirt in the trash. My parents didn’t attend this church, I was going with a friend.
    Edit: this was in the 90′s and the info in the this article was exactly what I was told.

  • Ch81602

    Here’s the real history of the peace sign.

  • Hykuw

    As long as they are not wasting taxpayer money, then go ahead and spend another 15,000 euros – it’s great for business!

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      They are wasting taxpayer euros.

      • Jim Jones

        Can’t you make them pay for their ignorance out of their own pockets?

        • The Other Weirdo

          They don’t wanna. It’s always better to waste someone else’s money.

        • Quintin van Zuijlen

          Apparently not.

  • Tom

    I would imagine he typed in something like “is the peace sign satanic” and, through the miracle of the insidious search engine bubbling effect coupled with basic confirmation bias, found a website written by some other kook who’d already convinced themselves it is, as opposed to just looking up the sign on its own and seeing what its derivation was (it’s semaphore for the letters ND, if anyone’s interested) and considered that evidence enough. Seriously, they should give people courses in school on how to construct neutral search terms.

    • UWIR

      And now he’s supplied Google with yet another search result for “peace sign Satanic”.

  • ShoeUnited

    You know, it’s funny because I had a nun (yes I was that Catholic) back when I was in school who was pretty strict by not only the peace symbol; but also the V peace sign with your hands AND told us that doing the V behind someone (we called it bunny ears) was devil horns.

    This is far from the first I’ve heard of it viewed as an evil sign. But it’s been a long ass time since I’ve heard it.

    • Tom

      Just out of interest, can one combine the actual hand symbol for the horns with the v-sign behind the head thing, or is that a faux pas?

      • ShoeUnited

        Well, I think the bunny ears is a bit of a faux pas that kids get into for group photos. But when I picture the two combined in my head, you start getting Darth Maul.

      • Mark

        Combining them just results in The Shocker.

    • WallofSleep

      Heh. About the “V” finger thing, you should have told her that “It’s a ‘V’ for ‘victory’, and if you have a problem with that, take it up with Winston Fucking Churchill”.

  • newavocation

    And the Cross is not a symbol of torture?

    • Tom

      No, see, this one was for the bad kind of torture.

      • Jackson Daias

        Since when is there a good type of torture

    • Bitter Lizard

      The difference is that with peace signs, they go on hippies, but with crosses, the hippies go on them.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        So hippies are jewelry… *puffs* …that’s deep, man. That’s deep.

  • MisterTwo

    Oh, I remember that from church when I was a kid in the 60s! The preacher drew a cross on the chalkboard, then an upside down cross, then an upside down cross with broken arms, then finally drew a circle around it.

    I was unaware of the origin as a combination of the semaphore for N and D. I had heard it was “BB” for Ban Bombing.

    Regardless, as I’ve said to Christians and others who insist on going back to the origins of things hundreds of years ago, a thing means what it means today. Even if it was originally a wiccan symbol, which some say, to the average person this emblem means “peace”. If nearly everyone who sees it thinks “peace”, then that’s what it means!

    • trj

      The preacher drew a cross on the chalkboard, then an upside down cross, then an upside down cross with broken arms, then finally drew a circle around it.

      It’s so obvious!

  • Kelsey T

    My grandma got really mad at me for wearing a peace sign necklace in middle school. I had to explain to her that it stands for nuclear disarmament, not the antichrist.

    • SinginDiva721

      I as well had a peace sign necklace (and earrings, bracelet and ring to match!!!) in middle school and in high school too and my grandmother had something to say about it too. She told me it was anti-american and that the lifestyle of the 60′s and 70′s was nothing to celebrate. She also seemed to have a problem with my Peace Love and Mickey Mouse t-shirt too. I never really understood it….

  • Richard Wade

    Back in 1966, when the peace sign was being used by Vietnam War protestors, one of my high school teachers and a fellow student were telling me that the peace sign represented a cross that was turned upside down and broken, so that the horizontal piece was dangling at diagonal angles. They said this meant it represented anti-Christian sentiment.

    I didn’t say anything, I just looked at them. I guess that even at the tender age of 16 I was capable of a withering “You gotta be fucking kidding me” look of disdainful skepticism. They just looked down and walked away. I never heard any more about that lunacy from anyone.

    • WallofSleep

      That’s pretty much the description from the Jack Chick comic I read back in the day.

      • CarysBirch

        In my fundamentalist childhood I was terrified to doodle a peace sign or a yin yang because they apparently meant “occult” and “eastern religion” respectively.

  • Octoberfurst

    Why do people cater to the whims of idiots? So the schools director is going to waste a ton of money just because some uniformed moron thinks the peace sign is Satanic? Really? It’s just some kid in the background wearing a peace sign shirt for crying out loud! I thought the people of the Netherlands had more sense but I see I was wrong.

    I remember as a kid church leaders telling me that the peace sign was the sign of the devil and that good Christians shouldn’t wear it. I thought that was dumb then and I think it is dumb now.

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      The people do, but quite a sizable minority don’t.

  • JaneRenee

    Pretty dumb to destroy the diaries. But he probably just googled “history of peace sign.” Its history isn’t hidden.

  • Machintelligence

    Don’t forget the shitstorm about the Procter and Gamble “moon and stars” logo that was said to be satanic.

    • TychaBrahe

      That crops up again from time to time and most of the recent reintroductions of that urban legend are traced back to Amway representatives.

  • Mando44646

    …there’s no such thing as a ‘Nero Cross’

    • Ray

      Sounds like an awesome band name to me.

  • allein

    If it’s only one page…why not just remove the page? (I guess maybe there might be something on the other side they need in there…) Or is the whole thing contaminated now?

  • Loic

    In the sixties, conservative hawks called it “the footprint of the American chicken,” LOL! My kids have always thought that was funny; recently we were hiking on a beach where eagles had been hopping around and I drew a circle around one of the footprints, which produced chuckles.

  • AxeGrrl

    Kids, of COURSE the peace sign is anti-Christ-esqe! And it comes right from the horse’s mouth, remember?:

    I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”
    (Matthew 10:34)

    • The Other Weirdo

      You have to read that in context.

      • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

        …Which you failed to provide.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          *headdesk* There but for the grace of a day off to chill go I.

        • The Other Weirdo

          If I explain it to you, will it still be funny?

          • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

            I apologize if your initial comment was sarcasm.

      • Amor DeCosmos

        I know, right, because when you read that passage in context, you can see that it is obviously metaphorical, unlike the rest of the Bible which is literal.

      • RobMcCune

        “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Matthew 10:35

        And yea I say unto thee why so serious?

  • C Peterson

    Good thing nobody told him what those big red “A”s mean. He would have blown a gasket.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      And his teachers draw them on kids’ papers EVERY DAY!!!!11!!!!1

      • ShoeUnited

        Maybe not. I know in France they write 19 (as in 19 out of 20 because nobody can get a perfect score since nobody is perfect). So they may not use a letter grade system.

        • Glasofruix

          You can get a 21 out of 20 in some cases and then the national tv talks a couple of minutes about it. In Netherlands i believe it’s a scale from 1 to 10.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Burst my American ethnocentric bubble, willya! *shakes flag menacingly* FREEDOM!!

        • The Other Weirdo

          So what happens if you answer 20 out of 20 questions correctly?

          • Intelligent Donkey

            You get accused of cheating.

          • Kwizi

            It can happen in a math class, but never in literature or history essays. It’s a shame. My dad was an English professor in France (now retired) and he gave 20/20 because the student exceeded expectations. The dean made remarks about it. My dad didn’t change the grade that particular time, but was advised against it, in “an effort to keep the student striving for better”.

            Meh. As students we are used to it.

  • Richard Wade

    Remember when the Procter and Gamble corporate symbol was reputed to be satanic? That Bible-inspired nincompoopery started in the 1980′s and killed the symbol in 1985. But the controversy didn’t cool off until 2011, when after several attempts P&G successfully sued individual Amway distributors for maliciously propagating the rumors of a link to the Church of Satan.

    • Tainda

      Yes I do. I remember checking all of our household products for it and was proud when I threw them away. I was really religious for about 2 years when I was 7 and 8 years old lol

    • A3Kr0n

      Yes, I remember. I am old.

    • midnight rambler

      The odd thing is, I remember when that first started bubbling up, but I had never seen the logo before or after. It didn’t seem to be a prominent symbol. Of course that makes the Satanism even more subliminal!

      • TychaBrahe

        It used to be on a lot of their products. It’s now only on intraoffice documents, both because of the negative publicity and because it’s a really dated symbol.

  • Ahab

    What is wrong with these people? Did they even bother to research the origins of the peace sign, which is derived from the semaphore symbols for “ND” (nuclear disarmament)? Thirty seconds on Google could have told them that. Ugh.

    • sailor1031

      WTF I could have told them that. I was there for the 1958 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Aldermaston march where this symbol was widely used. For years I had one of the very early ceramic badges. I guess there is no limit to the lies the religious will tell to get fools to believe them. So much for that religious “moral compass”.

  • Derrik Pates

    I’d never heard of a “Nero cross”, though a quick Google seems to indicate that’s an actual thing. Would they be bothered that the Jesus fish was originally a symbol for the vagina? If not… who cares? Lots of symbols meant other things till someone else came along and used them for something else.

    Edit: This is probably what the guy found, but I’d think you’d have to already know about this “Nero cross” business to find it:

    • Mitch

      Yeah, that’s one of the first sites I found when searching “history of peace symbol” on google.

  • the moother

    Just to clarify (and I’ve written a screed in reply to someone else on this page), this type of ignorance and stupidity is not exceptional in Holland. The racist and xenophobic PVV holds a third of parliamentary seats in Holland so obviously it’s not really a country full of smart people… there is a not insignificant proportion of the population that is no smarter than your average rethuglican… Some moron even built a replica of Noah’s ark in Holland so it’s not exactly a the bastion of enlightenment that it used to be.

  • Mick

    The students should use sticks of chalk to draw new peace signs all over the school every day for the rest of the year.

  • Mitch

    It has been said before, symbols change meaning. The swastika was (and still is) used in Indian religions, but that doesn’t stop the vast majority of people from immediately thinking of Nazis and antisemitic sentiments.

  • cary_w

    Don’t you just wish these people could, you know, help the poor, comfort the sick or buy books for schools or do something worthwhile with their money instead of throwing it away to re-print perfectly good planners, put up giant crosses and hand out bibles? Imagine how much good they could do in the world if they actually focused on helping people instead of boosting their own egos and freaking out about meaningless trifles.

  • Daphne
    The origin of the peace symbol according to Wikipedia. I find it interesting.

  • LesterBallard

    Reason and rationality, where would we be without them?

    • Jim Jones

      Planet earth.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Wait, what? I understand something like this with Dumb Americans™, but I was under the impression that Europeans were all smart, speak 27.583 languages and would never ever nuh huh no way ever allow religious zealotry to impeded life like that.

  • Itsrealfunnythat

    Wikipedia says this sign was originally a sign of despair… created in the 1950′s about the despair of war… It has no religious connotations.

  • UWIR

    “‘But you have to understand, it was the lesser of two evils,’ he told Trouw.”

    I’m shocked aT his casual profaning of The mosT sacred of ChrisTian symbols. The cross should be used solely To honor ChrisT’s sacrifice, and noT for secular purposes such as beginning preposiTions or numbers. The lower-case T was clearly puT in The Roman alphabeT to mock ChrisT’s death, and is a symbol of SaTanism.

  • GabyYYZ

    There, was that so hard for him to look up?

    • TychaBrahe

      Obviously a liberal plot.

  • Heisenberg

    Some Christians believe that the Peace Symbol is an upside-down, broken cross, and are threatened by it because it represents finding peace without going through Jesus.

    I shit you not…

  • camperben

    Morons doing moronic things

  • JA

    Christians who think an upside down cross is a satanic symbol do not know the history of their own religion. But then again, Christians not knowing the history of their own religion is hardly surprising.

  • Rain

    How afraid is this guy of the parents at his school that he’s unable to write them back a letter saying, “You’re wrong”?

    Religious fundy goofballs? Be afraid. Be very afraid, lol.

  • Gringa123

    Wait until they find out the origin of the “jesus” fish

  • SDCupcake

    I had never heard of this until I went to my MiL’s wearing a peace sign shirt and her husband told me it was an affront to christianity, which was a shock to my Methodist boyfriend. And then he played “The Ballad of the Green Berets over and over and over. That was a fun memorial day…I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though, he also refuses to give presents (although he’s happy to receive them) and, on christmas eve, told a room full of children about his hard drinking and whoring days before he was saved. Needless to say, he’s a real hoot to be around.

  • Mira

    One of the Christian schools I went to growing up confronted me about a necklace I was wearing that a dear friend gave to me and told me it was evil–yep, it was a peace sign. They told me it was the sign of the antichrist because it was the “cross with broken arms” or something. I was shocked and dismayed: even my dad stood up for me and argued with them, but they told me I had to take it off or not come back.

  • McDaniel

    This lie about the peace symbol could not be more false. Here is the origin of the peace symbol, designed in 1958.