Flanders politician re-ignites religious broadcasting debate
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No outdated, woman-unfriendly statements … please.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.
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