Few people in the West would consider the Netherlands to be a country receptive to a pro-family message. Fewer still would imagine that any pro-family organization could exist there, much less one that achieves victories.
The Netherlands’ reputation in popular culture is that of a European Las Vegas drawing millions of visitors to Amsterdam for drugs, gambling and prostitution. Its self-image is one of radical individualism—classical liberalism in economics and libertarianism in morals. Believing their own propaganda, Dutch cultural leftists have rested on their laurels for decades, secure in their belief that in Holland, the sexual revolution has triumphed over all opposition.
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This myth suffered a serious blow in February when Civitas Christiana—a Dutch pro-family organization that is an autonomous member of the international network of Societies for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP)—launched a petition through its campaign Gezin in Gevaar (“Family in Danger”) that successfully stopped the distribution of a poem to Dutch children written by LGBT activist and pro-pedophilia author Pim Lammers.
Gezin in Gevaar’s victory sparked an intense, nationwide debate and media firestorm that lasted over one month. The Dutch LGBT movement, the entire Dutch media and even Prime Minister Mark Rutte joined in a massive uproar of anger, disbelief and fear. Every establishment institution defended Pim Lammers’ right to publish pro-pedophilia propaganda, while Dutch television, radio and newspapers mocked Hugo Bos, the secretary of Civitas Christiana, for his traditional Catholic views on family and marriage.
The “Pim Lammers affair” began with Kinderboekenweek (Children’s Book Week), an annual event in the Netherlands that promotes authors of newly published children’s books. It is organized by the Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (Collective Promotion of the Dutch Book”), or CPNB, an association of Dutch publishers and bookstores that promotes Dutch literature. As first reported by reactionair.nl, the CPNB asked Pim Lammers, a well-known Dutch homosexual and LGBT activist, to write a poem that would be distributed to children across the Netherlands.
In addition to being a well-known homosexual activist, Pim Lammers is also a writer of sexually-charged children’s books. One of these books is The Farmer and the Vet, a story about two men who fall in love with one another. Another is The Little Lamb That is a Pig, which is used to teach gender theory to kindergarteners. Yet another book, Trainer, is about a twelve-year-old boy who is abused by his adult soccer coach but seems to like it.
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Controversy began immediately after the CPNB announced its selection of Lammers to write the children’s poem. Some Dutch celebrities, including Kim Feenstra and Monique Smit, made strong statements against it. Anticipating the polemic about its choice of Lammers, the CPNB doubled down, saying that they had “very consciously chosen” Lammers because his books are about “being yourself as a child.” The Dutch Language Union, the international organization that oversees the Dutch language, also tweeted its support for the CPNB.
On February 4, Gezin in Gaavar launched an online petition asking the Children’s Book Week to withdraw its poem-writing invitation to Pim Lammers. Within 24 hours, it went viral and was signed by over 5,000 people. For a country of 17 million, 5,000 is a very significant number, equivalent to approximately 100,000 in the United States. The petition later rose to over 7,200. The controversy also trended on Twitter for weeks.
Within one day after the petition appeared online, Children’s Book Week announced that Lammers had decided to withdraw from writing the poem. He claimed he had received “death threats” and was the victim of “pertinently untrue” allegations that he promotes pedophilia.
Immediately after Lammers’ statement, the entire Dutch media erupted with outrage. The Lammers affair quickly became a national issue, with all the major Dutch newspapers reporting on it, including De Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad, De Volkskrant, NRC, and Trouw. From the very beginning, the media refused to defend Pim Lammers on the central issue: the morality of pedophilia. As if sensing that pedophilic literature for children is a bridge too far in the eyes of public opinion, the Dutch media simply changed the subject. Instead, they made the issue about the alleged death threats against Lammers. In their view, Civitas Christiana, as an “extreme right-wing” organization that is attacking “free speech,” is the real threat to the Netherlands.
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The fact is sexual revolutionaries have fought for the sexualization of children for nearly a century. Wilhelm Reich, who coined the term “sexual revolution,” wrote that children are “sexually aware” beings and that it is harmful to repress their sexual desires. Some of his disciples went on to found pro-pedophilia organizations. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the icon of the May 1968 student revolt in the Sorbonne, admitted in media interviews and his 1975 book Le Grand Bazar that he had enjoyed sexual contact with children as young as five. The German Green Party was forced to apologize in 2014 for its pro-pedophilia positions going back to its founding in 1980.
More recently, the Dutch state-owned broadcaster NPO raised controversy by giving a platform to Nelson Maatman, a member of the pro-pedophilia group MARTIJN Association, to defend his views. NPO also produced a show called “Gewoon. Bloot.” (“Simply. Naked.”) in which adults take their clothes off in front of children. In 2019, the Young Democrats, the youth wing of the Dutch Democratic Party (D66) that is part of the current governing coalition in The Hague, published a document that called for the normalization of pedophilia as “a sexual orientation that one is born with.” It is impossible to deny that the Dutch and European establishment has favored, or at least remained indifferent, to the normalization of pedophilia. And at the cultural level, the spread of Drag Queen Story Hours worldwide is the clearest evidence yet that the LGBT movement wants to groom children to accept its agenda, as one activist admitted on camera.
On Saturday, February 4, a full-page advertisement appeared in all the major Dutch newspapers with the signatures of hundreds of writers, intellectuals and other public figures supporting Lammers. The official reason was to defend “freedom of speech.” Yet many signers, including Marthijn Uittenbogaard, Sidney Smeets, Arnon Grunberg and Meindert Fennema, have previously come out openly supporting pedophilia. Smeets had to retire as a member of parliament in 2021 for soliciting underage boys for sex. No less than twelve signers of the statement in defense of Lammers were also signers of a 2014 statement in defense of the pro-pedophilia group MARTIJN Association. One signer, former Dutch MP Ed Nijpels of the People’s Party (VVD), has publicly advocated for the decriminalization of sexual relations with children since 1978.
Trying to change the subject even further, NPO focused on the alleged death threats to Lammers. One NPO host accused Gezin in Gevaar of inciting these threats and called on the Dutch government to investigate the organization for its “extremist or even terrorist acts.” Gezin in Gevaar vehemently denied ever having made death threats or using violence in any way and pointed out that the organization has itself been the target of several death threats over the past five years. The media remained conspicuously silent when LGBT activists physically assaulted Civitas Christiana volunteers multiple times or when Antifa militants vandalized its offices.
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The next day, Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted a statement defending Pim Lammers, saying that “free speech is a great asset in our constitutional state” and that “only the courts set limits.” Only one member of the Dutch parliament, Wybren van Haga, had the courage to make a public statement against Lammers. “Someone who glorifies child abuse should never be given a podium,” he tweeted.
Civitas Christiana makes no secret that it is inspired and guided by the traditional social and moral teachings of the Catholic Church. It was not surprising, then, that progressive Catholics also came out in opposition to its campaign. Fr. Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten, a Dutch Catholic priest with a prominent social media presence, attacked Civitas Christiana for its positions against homosexuality, its defense of private property, and its supposed goal of imposing an “Islamic caliphate.” Bishop Gerard de Korte of the Diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch also published a statement in which he attacked Civitas for not having accepted “modern culture” and, in particular, for rejecting the principles of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity.
The universal and overwhelming hostility from the media and the Dutch establishment might give the idea that the Dutch people are on their side. Their own words, however, betray the opposite. Dutch writer Dolf Verroen said that Pim Lammers is likely to have his name permanently associated with pedophilia advocacy, a “disaster” for him that will be “difficult to get rid of and will keep popping up on the Internet.”
There is also a fear that traditionalist and even reactionary ideas about the family, morality, and religion are much more attractive in the Netherlands than most people realize. Some newspapers and radio programs expressed fear that groups like Civitas Christiana are “winning the cultural and communications war” and that the “anti-gender movement could gain strength in the Netherlands.” Others expressed shock that such a small group could implement a “successful strategy” with such “wide reach.” The successful campaign is proof that a small group and a well-chosen issue can have a decisive impact on public opinion and defeat the advances of the sexual revolution, even in the Netherlands.
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The unprecedented media hostility was not only about a poem. The petition revealed a serious fissure in Dutch society on freedom and public morality. Unlike the libertarian country portrayed in tourism advertisements, a large minority of its population is disgusted with the sexual revolution and still believes in the natural family but remains silent out of fear.
As Western societies slide ever closer into sexual and social anarchy, this hitherto silent segment of people is reacting and breaking the false consensus. The horrifying consequences of radical individualism with gender ideology and pedophilia are pushing people to reject the paradigm of liberal modernity. Many are even looking to the country’s Christian past for answers. One thing is certain: the image of the Netherlands as an entirely libertarian country without any opposition to the sexual revolution is obsolete.
James Bascom is a writer and researcher for Civitas Christiana, a Dutch non-profit organization that is an autonomous part of the international network of Societies for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP). He lives in Veenendaal, Netherlands.
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