Dutch government funds sexual identity ministry

This news report from the Netherlands Information Services, an English language Dutch new service, is intriguing.

Govt Subsidises ‘Homosexuality Healers’
THE HAGUE, 22/11/08 – Emancipation Minister Ronald Plasterk subsidises two Christian organisations that see homosexuality as a curable complaint.
Plasterk recently announced he would give subsidies to Christian gay organisations with the goal of making homosexuality discussible in these circles. But according to De Pers newspaper, these organisations work with therapists that are supposed to ‘cure’ homosexuals of their proclivity. They also only accept homosexuality when it is not actually practised.
Refo Anders is receiving 84,000 euros. “Homosexual feelings, okay. But we reject practising,” confirmed chairman Johan Quist in De Pers. Dealing with homosexual feelings means either celibate living or becoming heterosexual, is also the view of Johan van de Sluis, board member of the Onze Weg (Our Way) foundation, which is receiving 50,000 euros.
Gay interests organisation COC chairman Wouter Neerings is astonished. “Minister Plasterk is normally a man of sound judgement. It looks like a political compromise with ChristenUnie.”
In a reaction, Plasterk said: “These organisations have access to circles where there would otherwise be no homo-emancipation at all. Of course I do not support the aims completely, but they have taken important hurdles. For example, the recognition that there are homos in Christian circles.”

Plasterk is an acclaimed molecular biologist, writer and of late politician, who serves as the Minister of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands. As such, he is responsible for “emancipation” or setting policies supportive of equal rights for women and gays. He rejects Christianity, yet apparently believes there is value in making “homosexuality discussible in these circles.”
I have some question about the characterization of the recipients as “homosexuality healers.” Refo Anders, one of the organizations receiving the money, has expressed reservations regarding change therapy. I cannot vouch for Google translation but here is a link to a page where it appears that Anders believes his group has been mischaracterized by the Dutch press. An excerpt:

The Press newspaper in an article called Refo Anders as a gay “healer”
Despite that Refo Anders in his vision document wrote that they skeptical about change therapy The Press considers it better to know and places it among the gay Refo Otherwise healers.
Otherwise Refo Foundation regrets this “low to the ground” way of journalism companies, particularly since the journalist (Koen Verhelst) a nuanced story that he has heard total passes even after he was recalled on factual inaccuracies in his story, even the inappropriate use of the name of Refo Otherwise urged not to him by corrections that after 37 minutes of us got on his concept press release (which he himself for a few days needed to write).

As I read through the materials, the approach sounds more like Wendy Gritter’s New Directions, than a change ministry.
UPDATE: Johan Quist, of Refo Anders wrote to explain a little further. Although his English is much better than my Dutch, it may take a couple of reads to catch the meaning.

We do not like to change the human with therapy, but otherwise we believe that God has the power to change people, it’s a work inside the heart of a human from God himself. Also its really important that people find the way back to the warm relation with God and from this warm relation God will show him the way to live; some people have to live his total life with homo-feelings And other people God will change, it’s the free way of God !

This is not a homosexuality healing or reparative therapy organization. Rather, this is a Christian ministry with a reformed theology which supports non-gay-affirming people who strive to live by their traditional reformed faith. I like this approach and think it has much to recommend it over the reparative based ministry often practiced in the U.S.

5 thoughts on “Dutch government funds sexual identity ministry”

  1. Thanks for the update. I think Refo Ander and Our Way are two separate groups. I could be wrong but I recall that there were two groups funded originally.

  2. And now it is gone….

    An orthodox Christian organisation that claims to promote gay interests will no longer be eligible for government subsidy. The ‘Our Way’ foundation was in fact attempting to ‘cure’ homosexuality, Education Minister Ronald Plasterk told the lower house of parliament on Thursday. Protecting minority interests is part of Mr Plasterk’s portfolio.
    Earlier in the week, Mr Plasterk was defending his decision to subsidise Onze Weg (Our Way); his change of opinion was prompted by written questions from two opposition MPs.
    The MPs, Boris van der Ham of liberal democrat party D66 and Anouchka van Miltenburg of the conservative VVD, were quoting an article in the Revu weekly that claimed the organisation is targeting homosexuals in order to alter their sexual orientation. Our Way is mainly active among evangelical Christians and was granted a 50,000 euro subsidy in September 2008.
    Subsidy for candour
    The education ministry then asked the foundation for an explanation, which it provided in a letter to the minister. Mr Plasterk told NRC Handelsblad that:

    “The organisation is transgressing the limits by devoting itself to curing homosexuality. Our subsidy is intended to promote an open discussion of homosexuality among orthodox Christians. It is out of the question that we support clubs that advocate helping people to get rid of their homosexual feelings.”

    More from NRC Handelsblad International
    In its letter Our Way wrote that believing in Jesus Christ can lead to “a reduction in the intensity of homosexual feelings, which for some may result in a change towards heterosexuality.” Mr Plasterk acknowledges that the foundation says that such a change is not the result it is aiming for.

  3. So by your title, “Dutch government funds sexual identity ministry,” are you associating your own approach to therapy with their “reformed theology which supports non-gay-affirming people who strive to live by their traditional reformed faith.” Are you going beyond just liking it?

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