Flanders politician re-ignites religious broadcasting debate

Flanders politician re-ignites religious broadcasting debate September 5, 2018

Last year Sven Gatz, above, Minister for Media in Flanders, tried unsuccessfully to abolish religious services on publicly funded media channels.
Well, he’s trying again to get them banned, this time citing a service aired on radio and the television station VRT that called on women to be submissive to their husbands.
According to the Guardian, Gatz was appalled by a Bible-reading given by an unnamed lay Catholic during a service at Sint-Servaasbasiliek in Grimbergen. The reading, from Ephesians 5:22-33 in the New Testament, said:

Women, be submissive to your husband as the husband to the Lord. For the man is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the church. He gave his life to save her. In this way the woman must submit her husband to everything as the church is submissive to Christ.

Gatz tweeted in response:

No outdated, woman-unfriendly statements … please. What if, for example, an imam would have said this?

The Minister, from the Flemish liberal party, Open VLD, later told the Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad that he would make a renewed push for the abolition of religious services on channels funded by taxpayers.
He said:

Of course I am not behind these kinds of statements. The fact that they come from an old book is not an argument for letting them go to our people. This is not of this time, and that it is broadcast on the VRT for the whole of Flanders is already completely crazy.

Gatz added of his previous call for abolition:

My coalition partners CD&V and N-VA did not agree with that at the time. I hope that we can use incidents like this to reintroduce the debate.

The representation of religion, language and culture on television is often a point of heated debate in Belgium, where French, Dutch and German are the officially recognised home languages.
The Dutch Bible Society, which also has Flemish members, said the excerpt read should not have been “ripped out of its context”.
A spokesman said:

The contested statement is preceded by a very different sentence:  ‘Accept each other’s authority out of respect for Christ’. This indicates that this is a very different matter than legitimisation of the oppression of women by men.

In a statement, TV channel VRT said it:

Continues to regard the broadcasting of eucharistic celebrations as a service to the viewers: both for religious viewers and for viewers who want to get acquainted with such a celebration and do not always agree with what is said in the church. The VRT has no problem with these broadcasts leading to debate and discussion.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • Laura Roberts

    “The contested statement is preceded by a very different sentence: ‘Accept each other’s authority out of respect for Christ’. This indicates that this is a very different matter than legitimisation of the oppression of women by men.”
    This whining is so tiresome! They always do try to go back to that “out of context” well again, don’t they? Had this “Bible spokesperson” given it any thought at all, he would have realised the context he provides does nothing to diminish the shameful passage that follows it. In fact, one could argue that this context serves only to reinforce a wholly repulsive edict.
    Bravo, Mr. Gatz.

  • Angela_K

    Well done Mr Gatz. If only some of our politicians would have the courage stop our state broadcaster, the BBC, from transmitting religious propaganda.
    As a side, Has anyone noticed that in the Sky TV menu there is a whole separate category for religion but none for science.Could it be because the “dirty digger” is a Christian?

  • L.Long

    Even better….continue the religious BS shows and just after them have a secular analysis of the religious BS!!! Or would that hurt too many feelings and become blasphemy???

  • andym

    Angela-K. Papal Knight , I think, along with such luminaries as Jimmy Savile and the seriously creepy Barclay twins.

  • Brian Jordan

    In this way the woman must submit her husband to everything as the church is submissive to Christ.
    Which, translated, says:
    “The church can do whatever it likes so so can a bloke”.
    Sort of the opposite of putting up a straw man. For some reason online thesauruses seem to think the antonym is “backside” but one listed “tin god” as related, which sounds near enough.

  • Brian Jordan

    @Angela K
    More likely the digger knows where there’s money to be made. There’s not much in science.

  • StephenJP

    L.Long has a point: religion is just about the only subject that gets a totally free pass on the media. We all have a good laugh at Thought for the Day (advt: visit Platitude of the Day sometime: http://www.platitudes.org.uk/platblog/index.php); but the BBC’s Department of Woo never, ever, gives anyone a right of reply. As a result, the speakers can get away with the most mendacious nonsense, knowing that they will never be challenged. But this is also par for the course elsewhere in the media: there are very few programmes I can recall that subject the dogmas and beliefs of any of the religions to serious scrutiny. No wonder so many people are so ignorant of what religions actually claim, and where and why their claims are so utterly wrong.

  • AgentCormac

    “The church can do whatever it likes so so can a bloke”.
    Spot on, Brian Jordan. As ever, it’s all about indoctrination, domination, control and who submits to whom in the bedroom. And, of course, who gets to do all the work in the kitchen and raise the kids. Something that those who head the world’s various brands of religious craziness have known for a very long time.
    What a lovely bunch of people they are. And no wonder the likes of Putin, Trump and Bannon want a piece of their action.
    BTW, is it just me, or are the ID fields here on the FT still not working properly?

  • Brian Jordan

    Monday’s episode of Forbidden History by Jamie Theakston, on the Yesterday channel, was pretty rough with Christianity. I only saw parts of it but IIRC they accepted the historicity of Christ but precious little else.
    Rather different from the Bible Secrets programmes, which are rubbish – even if they do have old SF writer – and Fortean – Lionel Fanthorpe in his new role as a priest.

  • StephenJP

    Thanks Brian, I will look it up. Any other suggestions to prove me wrong would be very welcome. Still, I await the first mainstream TV programme to propound the mythicist view about JC!

  • 1859

    The TV channel…’Continues to regard the broadcasting of eucharistic celebrations as a service to the viewers…’
    Why not ask the viewers if it’s what they want? Broadcasting such misogynist bullshit on a publicly funded network must be open to severe criticism. Such biblical passages are poisonous and were no doubt used to justify burning unruly women. Religion is retrograde nonsense.

  • sailor1031

    For what it’s worth this section is not accepted by biblical scholars as being by Saul of Tarse. It is a well known forgery. Not that Saul of Tarse had any authority to preach anyway. Certainly his forgers had even less. This is just unsourced mysogynistic bullsh*t.

  • barriejohn

    Brian Jordan/StephenJP: Some of those Yesterday programmes are dire, and I did mention the one about Tudor Parfitt and the Lemba people here previously. How can they give credence to such palpable nonsense? There used to be similar tripe on the Discovery Channel, and as one comedian quipped only recently: “I know everything there is to know about sharks and Nazis”! However, my jaw dropped when I saw that they were wheeling out Lionel Fanthorpe as one of their “experts”, though it dropped even further when the great man actually opined that someone’s barmy theories belonged in “the realms of fantasy” (I think I have that quote correct). Has he never come across Fortean Times?

  • Brian Jordan

    He’s more than come across Fortean Times
    “Fortean TV was a British paranormal documentary television series that originally aired from 29 January 1997 to 6 March 1998 on Channel 4. Produced by Rapido TV, the program features anomalous phenomena and the paranormal. It was based upon the Fortean Times magazine and was presented by Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe. ”
    It’s a long time ago now, but IIRC his SF stories were dire, too.

  • Brian Jordan

    There’s another series: Raiders of the Lost Past. I’ve only seen yesterday’s edition, which was halfway between Theakston and Fanthorpe. It was about the Garden of Eden and started out ok placing Genesis as a re-hash of Gilgamesh and declaring the whole lot to bebb a metphor. Then the theorist started looking for an actual place and eventually decided it was now beneath the Gulf.