Why are some Americans more religious than European counterparts?

Why are some Americans more religious than European counterparts?



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What are some of the historical reasons for why certain Americans are more religious than similar Europeans? For example, there are pronounced differences in Church attendance; Extent of belief in god.

To narrow things down, let us restrict 'America' to Protestant America and 'Europe' to Protestant Europe. (I have written it this way, since historically the majority of early American settlers arriving prior to 1800 have come from the Protestant regions of Europe.)


traditionally, Europeans were told what to believe in, Americans came to American to believe in things of their own choosing.
Of course this is not wholly the case any more, many European countries are as religiously liberal as the US are now. But a strong monoculture exists in those countries still, with the majority of churches being of a specific denomination.
And of course at least on paper many European countries still have an "official religion", usually the one held to by their royal family.
Enforcement of these religions on the population may no longer happen, but remember that the last of the organisations like the Spanish Inquisition were disbanded only a few decades ago (though the Spanish Inquisition was officially ended in 1834, some of the laws under which it and similar organisations elsewhere operated existed well into the 20th century).
Many would flee from such things, often to the Americas. The sacrifice of doing so was high, high enough that it stands to reason that it would be those of very strong religious beliefs would be the more likely to go to the Americas rather than convert (at least in public) to the official religion of their home countries.
Leaving everything behind for an uncertain future in a rough, violent, country, rejected by your friends and family, probably with a death sentence over your head if you give up to return to Europe isn't something for the faint of heart.
And those of strong religious conviction (rather than those who are religious in order to be accepted by their society) are more likely to pass on that conviction to their children.


America's Changing Religious Landscape

Like the 2007 Religious Landscape Study, the new survey shows a remarkable degree of churn in the U.S. religious landscape. If Protestantism is treated as a single religious group, then fully 34% of American adults currently have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised, which is up six percentage points since 2007. If the three major Protestant traditions (evangelical Protestantism, mainline Protestantism and historically black Protestantism) are analyzed as separate categories, then the share of Americans who have switched religions rises to 42%. 16 And these figures do not include an estimate of the number of “reverts” (people who leave their childhood religion before returning to it later in life). If the survey had measured this category, the estimates of the number of people who have switched religions would be higher still.

Along with other sources of change in the religious composition of the U.S. (like immigration and differential fertility or mortality rates), understanding patterns of religious switching is central to making sense of the trends observed in American religion. And perhaps the best way to assess the impact of switching on the composition of the U.S. religious landscape is to consider the ratio of the number of people who have joined each religious group to the number of people who have left. After all, every religious tradition ultimately loses some of the people who were raised within its fold, and every tradition (including the unaffiliated) gains some members who join its ranks after having been raised in a different group.

Looked at this way, the data clearly show that part of the reason the religious “nones” have grown rapidly in recent decades is that they continue to be the single biggest destination of movement across religious boundaries. Nearly one-in-five American adults (18%) were raised in a religion and are now unaffiliated, compared with just 4% who have moved in the other direction. In other words, for every person who has left the unaffiliated and now identifies with a religious group more than four people have joined the ranks of the religious “nones.”

By contrast, both Catholicism and mainline Protestantism, the two groups whose shares of the overall population have declined most sharply in recent years, have lost more members to religious switching than they have gained. Among U.S. adults, there are now more than six former Catholics (i.e., people who say they were raised Catholic but no longer identify as such) for every convert to Catholicism. And there are approximately 1.7 people who have left mainline Protestantism for every person who has joined a mainline denomination.

This chapter examines the religious groups that experience net gains and losses from changes in religious affiliation and documents the high degree of turnover among American religious groups. In addition, it analyzes the patterns of membership gain, loss and retention among religious groups.

The chapter also details the survey’s findings about interfaith marriage, which suggest that religious intermarriage is becoming more common. In fact, people who have gotten married since 2000 are about twice as likely to be in religious intermarriages as are people who got married before 1960.

Net Gains and Losses by Religious Tradition: Unaffiliated Make Big Gains, Catholics Suffer Major Losses

No religious group is only losing members or gaining members. Rather, each religious group is simultaneously gaining and losing members. Examining the total number of people entering and leaving each religion provides the most complete picture of the dynamism of the American religious landscape.

The group that has experienced the greatest net gains due to religious switching is the religiously unaffiliated. Fewer than one-in-ten adults (9.2%) say they were raised as religious “nones.” And nearly half of those who were raised unaffiliated (4.3% of all U.S. adults) now identify with a religion. But fully 18% of American adults were raised in a religious tradition and now describe themselves as unaffiliated. Currently, 22.8% of American adults identify as unaffiliated, which is nearly 14 percentage points higher than the share who say they were raised as religious “nones.”

In contrast with the unaffiliated, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses due to religious switching. Nearly a third of all U.S. adults (31.7%) were raised Catholic, and most of them continue to identify as Catholics today. But nearly 13% of all Americans are former Catholics – people who no longer identify with the faith despite having been raised in the Catholic Church. By comparison, there are far fewer converts to Catholicism 2% of all U.S. adults now identify as Catholics after having been raised in another religion or without a religion. This means that there are more than six former Catholics for every convert to Catholicism. No other religious group analyzed in the survey has experienced anything close to this ratio of losses to gains via religious switching.

Mainline Protestantism also has lost more members than it has gained through religious switching. Overall, 10.4% of adults are former mainline Protestants, compared with 6.1% who now identify with mainline Protestantism after having been raised in another faith.

Driven primarily by the losses experienced by Catholicism and mainline Protestantism, Christianity as a whole loses more adherents than it gains via religious switching. The vast majority of U.S. adults (85.6%) say they were raised as Christians. But more than a fifth of them (19.2% of all adults) no longer identify with Christianity. Far fewer Americans (4.2% of all adults) have converted to Christianity after having been raised in another faith or with no religious affiliation. Overall, there are more than four former Christians for every convert to Christianity.

Within Christianity, the major exception to this pattern is evangelical Protestantism, which gains more adherents through religious switching than it loses. Overall, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults (23.9%) say they were raised as evangelical Protestants. More than a third of them (8.4% of all adults) no longer identify with evangelicalism. But even larger numbers (9.8% of all adults) now identify with evangelical Protestantism after having been raised outside the tradition.

Net Gains and Losses by Protestant Denominational Families: Gains for Nondenominational Protestants, Losses for Many Others

Many Protestant denominational families lose more people through religious switching than they gain. Nearly one-in-five American adults, for example, were raised Baptist (19.2%). But more than four-in-ten of them (8.4% of all U.S. adults) are no longer Baptist. Fewer people (4.5% of all adults) now identify as Baptist after having been raised in another religion, meaning that there are roughly two former Baptists for each person who has become a Baptist after having been raised in another religion or without a religion. The survey finds similar rates of losses to gains (roughly 2-to-1) for Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Congregationalists.

Nondenominational Protestants, by contrast, gain more adherents through religious switching than they lose. Just 2% of Americans say they were raised as nondenominational Protestants, and half of them (1.1% of all adults) no longer identify with nondenominational Protestantism. But 5.3% of adults now identify as nondenominational Protestants after having been raised in another religion or in no religion, meaning that nondenominational Protestantism gains roughly five adherents through religious switching for every adherent it loses.

Retention of Childhood Members: Hindus, Muslims and Jews Most Successful at Retaining Adherents

Hindus, Muslims and Jews are the three religious traditions that retain the largest shares of the adherents raised within their group. Among all U.S. adults who say they were raised as Hindus, fully 80% continue to identify with Hinduism as adults most of those who no longer identify as Hindus now describe themselves as unaffiliated. Roughly three-quarters of those raised as Muslims (77%) and Jews (75%) also continue to identify with their childhood faiths.

Among Christian groups, the historically black Protestant tradition retains the highest percentage of its childhood members, followed by evangelical Protestants and Mormons. Seven-in-ten respondents who were raised within the historically black Protestant tradition continue to identify with it today, while roughly two-thirds of those raised as evangelicals (65%) and Mormons (64%) continue to identify with their childhood faiths. Among those who have left the historically black Protestant and evangelical traditions, there are more people who now identify with other religions than who identify with no religion. By contrast, most former Mormons (21% of all adults who were raised as Mormons) now say they have no religious affiliation.

Catholicism’s retention rate has slipped since the first Religious Landscape Study was conducted in 2007. At that time, 68% of respondents who were raised Catholic continued to identify as such as adults. Today, 59% of those raised Catholic still identify with Catholicism as adults, while 41% do not. One-in-five people who were raised Catholic now say they have no religious affiliation, while 10% identify with evangelical denominations, 5% with mainline denominations and smaller numbers with other faiths.

Just over half of those who were raised with no religious affiliation (53%) still identify as religious “nones,” one of the lower retention rates among religious traditions. The low retention rate of the religiously unaffiliated may seem paradoxical, since they ultimately obtain bigger gains through religious switching than any other tradition. Despite the fact that nearly half of those raised unaffiliated wind up identifying with a religion as adults, “nones” are able to grow through religious switching because people switching into the unaffiliated category far outnumber those leaving the category. A quarter of those raised as mainline Protestants have become “nones,” along with 20% of those raised Catholic, 15% of those raised in the evangelical Protestant tradition and 13% of those raised in the historically black Protestant tradition.

The data show, furthermore, that the share of those raised as “nones” who remain unaffiliated as adults is growing. Compared with 2007, the retention rate of the religiously unaffiliated has increased by seven percentage points (from 46% to 53%). This is driven, in large part, by generational replacement young adults who were raised as “nones” are far more likely than their counterparts in previous generations to continue to identify as unaffiliated. Fully two-thirds of Millennials who were raised unaffiliated continue to identify as “nones” as adults. In fact, “nones” have among the highest retention rates among Millennials, significantly higher than the comparable rates for those raised in the evangelical Protestant (61%), historically black Protestant (60%), Catholic (50%) and mainline Protestant (37%) traditions and about equal to the retention rate for Jews (70%). (The survey included too few interviews with people raised in other faiths to permit a similar analysis by generational cohort.) Among older generations, by contrast, far fewer people who were raised as religious “nones” remain religiously unaffiliated as adults.

Of course, it is possible that growing numbers of Millennials who were raised unaffiliated will begin to identify with a religion as they get older, settle down, get married and have children. However, previous research suggests that generational cohorts typically do not become more religiously affiliated as they get older. Indeed, the current study suggests that most generational cohorts are becoming less religiously affiliated as they age.

Retention Rates Among Protestant Denominational Families

The 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that 57% of all adults who were raised as Baptists continue to identify as Baptists. Anabaptists (52%), Lutherans (51%), Adventists (51%) and Pentecostals (50%) retain the allegiance of about half of their childhood adherents. Many other Protestant denominational families have lower retention rates. Four-in-ten or fewer of those raised as Methodists (40%), Episcopalians (39%), Presbyterians (34%), Reformed Protestants (34%), Holiness Protestants (32%) and Congregationalists (31%) continue to identify with those denominational families as adults.

Significant minorities of those raised in nearly all Protestant denominational families now say they are unaffiliated, ranging from 15% among those raised Baptist, Pentecostal or Restorationist to 28% of those raised Congregationalist. The only exception to this pattern is the Anabaptist denominational family just 5% of those raised Anabaptist now identify as religious “nones.”

Groups Most Heavily Composed of Religious Switchers

The flip side of examining retention rates (which show the groups that are most successful at holding on to those raised in their ranks) is to consider which groups are most heavily made up of people who have switched into the group.

Nearly eight-in-ten adults who currently identify as religious “nones” were raised in a religion, while just 21% were raised religiously unaffiliated. Among adults who currently have no religious affiliation, there are more former Catholics (28%) and about as many former mainline Protestants (21%) as there are people who were raised with no religious affiliation (21%).

Most people who currently identify as Jehovah’s Witnesses (65%) also were raised outside that tradition. And 67% of the Buddhists surveyed indicate that they were raised in a religion other than Buddhism or with no religious affiliation. However, since the survey was conducted only in English and Spanish, Buddhists who speak other languages (e.g., Vietnamese, Japanese or other Asian languages), and who are not comfortable taking a survey in either English or Spanish, are underrepresented. The Pew Research Center’s 2012 survey of Asian Americans indicates that most Asian-American Buddhists were raised as Buddhists.

At the other end of the spectrum, fully 90% of adult Catholics are “cradle Catholics” raised in the church. Similarly, 90% of Hindus say they were raised as Hindus.

Within Protestantism, roughly six-in-ten evangelical Protestants (61%) and mainline Protestants (58%) say they were raised within their respective traditions. Each group includes substantial minorities, however, who were raised in the other faith 14% of current evangelical Protestants were raised in the mainline tradition, and 20% of mainline Protestants were raised in the evangelical tradition. Each group also includes sizable numbers of former Catholics, with 13% of current evangelical Protestants and 12% of current mainline Protestants indicating that they were raised Catholic. Compared with evangelicals and mainline Protestants, the historically black Protestant tradition includes fewer people who have switched in from a different religious background.

Interfaith Marriage Commonplace

Interfaith relationships are common among married people and those living with a romantic partner, and interfaith marriage appears to be on the rise. If Protestantism is treated as a single religious group, then 28% of American adults who are married or living with a partner have a spouse or partner with a religion different than their own. When the three major Protestant traditions (evangelical Protestantism, mainline Protestantism and historically black Protestantism) are analyzed as separate categories, the number rises to 33%.

Interfaith relationships are far more common among unmarried people who are living with a partner (49% of whom have a partner with a religion different from their own) than among married people (31% of whom are in a religiously mixed marriage). Even among married people, however, mixed-faith relationships appear to be growing more common. Nearly four-in-ten married people who were wed since 2010 have a spouse who identifies with a different religious group (including Protestants who are married to a spouse from a different Protestant tradition). By contrast, just 19% of people who got married before 1960 have a spouse with a different religion. 17

These patterns strongly suggest that intermarriage has been rising, but it also should be noted that some research indicates that “in-marriages” (marriages between people of the same religion) tend to be more durable than intermarriages. 18 The Religious Landscape Study does not measure whether couples were in religiously mixed marriages at the time they got married these marriages would no longer be counted as interfaith relationships if one or both spouses switched religions and they now share the same faith. If it were possible to analyze these other types of mixed marriages (i.e., those that ended in divorce and those that now are religiously matched marriages due to religious switching), then the percentage of intermarriages in previous decades may have been higher than it appears because the study only looks at marriages that are intact today.

The apparent rise of religious intermarriage is driven in large part by marriages between Christians and religiously unaffiliated spouses. Fully 18% of people surveyed who have gotten married since 2010 are either Christians with a religiously unaffiliated spouse or religious “nones” with a Christian spouse, as are 16% of people who got married between 2000 and 2009. By comparison, just 5% of people surveyed who got married before 1960 fit this profile. The rates of intra-Christian mixed marriage (e.g., between an evangelical Protestant and a mainline Protestant, or between a Catholic and a Mormon) are closer among those who got married recently and those who have been married for a long time.

Among those surveyed who are married or living with a partner, Buddhists are more likely than members of most other groups to indicate that they are in a mixed-faith relationship, with fully six-in-ten Buddhists (61%) saying their spouse or partner has a religion other than Buddhism. However, Asian-American Buddhists are underrepresented in the study because the survey was conducted only in English and Spanish and not in Asian languages such as Japanese, Mandarin or Vietnamese. In the current study, just 33% of Buddhists identify their race as Asian American. But the Pew Research Center’s 2012 survey of Asian Americans (conducted in English and seven Asian languages) found that roughly two-thirds of all U.S. Buddhists are Asian Americans, and that most married Asian-American Buddhists are married to a spouse who is also Buddhist. Thus, the 2014 Religious Landscape Study’s estimated intermarriage rate for Buddhists is likely much higher than it would have been had the survey been offered in Asian languages (and included more Asian-American Buddhists).

Hindus are more likely than any other religious group to have a spouse or partner with the same religion (91%). Roughly eight-in-ten Mormons (82%) and Muslims (79%) who are married or living with a partner have a mate who shares their religion, as do three-quarters of Catholics and evangelical Protestants.


Why America Loves Israel, Israel Loves Us, and Europe Hates Us Both

Begin with the obvious: the 180-degree disconnect between America&rsquos and so much of Europe&rsquos attitude toward Israel, as evidence, most recently, by Congress&rsquos September 18 unanimous vote declaring Israel a &ldquomajor strategic partner.&rdquo

But in Europe, were it not for lingering (but vanishing) embarrassment over that &ldquoHolocaust thing,&rdquo it would not surprise this writer to see a vote declaring Israel a pariah sail through at least some European parliaments.

As for America, like Europe, it is overwhelmingly Christian. What, then, explains the affectionate bond between this Christian-majority country and the world&rsquos only Jewish state?

1. Both America and Israel were founded by people fleeing religious persecution.

Jews, of course, have been persecuted literally for millennia anti-Semitism has truly earned its characterization as &ldquothe world&rsquos oldest hatred.&rdquo

But the 16 th century saw the advent of a new phenomenon in Europe: the persecution of Christians by other Christians.

The religious persecution that drove settlers from Europe to the British North American colonies sprang from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics alike, that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society&hellip In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists.

No wonder, then, given these Christians&rsquo and Jews&rsquo common historical experience, that the First Amendment to our Constitution prohibited the new government from infringing on the religious liberties of anyone. But the point is, America is unique in having been founded by members of two religions fleeing persecution for their beliefs.

Then there is the Pilgrims&rsquo likening of themselves and their flight from Europe to the New World to the Israelites&rsquo flight from Egypt to the Promised Land.

And that was just the beginning, as proto-Americans continued to identify with the ancient Israelites throughout the Revolutionary War. As historian Don Higgenbotham writes in The War of American Independence (emphasis mine):

In most of the colonies that had militia, a major part of each training day was a sermon, sometimes called an "artillery sermon," which "literally bristled with Old Testament injunctions in support of a just war."&hellip Several generations of Americans saw themselves transformed into the Biblical David, while France (and later Britain) was Goliath incarnate."

No less a figure than Thomas Paine, in Common Sense, arguably the spark that ignited the American Revolution, cites the Jews as argument both against continued allegiance to a monarch and for independence. He then ices the cake by further citing his perceived notion of &ldquoJewish exceptionalism&rdquo to exhort his countrymen to embrace the concept of American exceptionalism (emphasis mine):

The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable but so it was, that&hellip they came&hellip to Samuel, saying, BEHOLD THOU ART OLD, AND THY SONS WALK NOT IN THY WAYS, NOW MAKE US A KING TO JUDGE US, LIKE ALL OTHER NATIONS. And here we cannot but observe that their motives were bad, viz. that they might be LIKE unto other nations&hellip whereas their true glory laid in being as much UNLIKE them as possible.

And need I mention that both and America and modern Israel had to wrest their independence not just from a European power, but from the same European power &ndash Great Britain?

2. America and Israel share the same values.

America is commonly, and correctly, characterized as a Judeo-Christian country.

And it is equally accurate to call modern Israel a &ldquoChristo-Jewish state.&rdquo

I am far from the first observer to note the Old Testament (read: Torah) tone to the Gettysburg Address &ndash &ldquoFour score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent&hellip,&rdquo not to mention Lincoln&rsquos directly quoting Psalm 19:9, from the Hebrew Bible: &ldquo[T]he judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.&rdquo

But of course, the Second Inaugural contains another memorable passage &ndash one suffused with Christianity:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

That&rsquos Jesus speaking there, not Moses. Or to put it another way, the citizens of Richmond and Atlanta would have gotten a much better deal from Lincoln, had he lived, than the citizens of Jericho got from Joshua. And so, too, will the citizens or Ramallah and Gaza City if/when they make peace with the Jewish state. Is there any question that Hamas&rsquos most fervent wish is to destroy the Jewish state? Is there any question that Israel seeks only the same peace she already enjoys with Egypt and Jordan?

But Lincoln&rsquos words aside, what about Lincoln the man? Lincoln was a Christian, of course. And yet&hellip (emphasis mine):

America made it by the skin of her teeth, by the grace of God. We nearly dissolved in the Civil War, and no-one but a president with the character of a Hebrew prophet could have extricated us from disaster.

I have just given you two reasons why I believe America loves Israel and vice-versa. But why do so many Europeans hate both us? One reason, certainly, is the American and Jewish exceptionalism I cited earlier. Europeans simply cannot countenance the high opinions that we Americans and our Israeli counterparts have of ourselves. And it seems that the only thing Europe hates more than our and Israel&rsquos belief in each people&rsquos exceptional nature is our evident joy in proclaiming our exceptionalism openly. Elite Europeans view such open bragging with undisguised distaste.

Problem is, to paraphrase baseball great Jay &ldquoDizzy&rdquo Dean, it ain&rsquot braggin&rsquo if you can do it.

And America and Israel have shown, over and over, throughout history, that they can do it.

Worse, the people, in America and in Israel, who are &ldquodoing it&rdquo are people Europe did not want. But America did, as immortalized in the words, by the American &ndash and Jewish &ndash poet Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me&hellip

To have been not just equaled, but surpassed by this &ldquowretched refuse,&rdquo not to mention being totally dependent on them for defense, must be galling to many Europeans.

Knowing that the processor chip and anti-virus software in the computer on which one is typing that latest BDS screed was developed and/or manufactured in Israel must be no joy, either.

America is no slouch in technological development (often in partnership with Israeli firms), either. But in Israel&rsquos case especially, one suspects that nothing &ndash nothing &ndash raises Europeans&rsquo blood pressures more than to see the people that Europe spat on literally for centuries transform themselves in the historical wink of any eye from this&hellip

That America &ndash a country founded and built, as was modern Israel, by Europe&rsquos &ldquowretched refuse,&rdquo fleeing European religious bigotry &ndash doesn&rsquot have Europe&rsquos problem with Israeli (read: Jewish) military prowess doesn&rsquot surprise me. That the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution &ldquocondemning the rising tide of anti-Semitism abroad&rdquo surprises me even less. &ldquoKeep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. And keep your Jew-haters, too.

And so, when Americans and Israelis look at each other, take pride in our respective achievements and &ndash yes &ndash our exceptional nature, each of us, American and Israeli, celebrates the praiseworthy qualities that we see in the other precisely because we see those same qualities in ourselves, can anyone be surprised when each asks the other the same question:

Begin with the obvious: the 180-degree disconnect between America&rsquos and so much of Europe&rsquos attitude toward Israel, as evidence, most recently, by Congress&rsquos September 18 unanimous vote declaring Israel a &ldquomajor strategic partner.&rdquo

But in Europe, were it not for lingering (but vanishing) embarrassment over that &ldquoHolocaust thing,&rdquo it would not surprise this writer to see a vote declaring Israel a pariah sail through at least some European parliaments.

As for America, like Europe, it is overwhelmingly Christian. What, then, explains the affectionate bond between this Christian-majority country and the world&rsquos only Jewish state?

1. Both America and Israel were founded by people fleeing religious persecution.

Jews, of course, have been persecuted literally for millennia anti-Semitism has truly earned its characterization as &ldquothe world&rsquos oldest hatred.&rdquo

But the 16 th century saw the advent of a new phenomenon in Europe: the persecution of Christians by other Christians.

The religious persecution that drove settlers from Europe to the British North American colonies sprang from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics alike, that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society&hellip In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists.

No wonder, then, given these Christians&rsquo and Jews&rsquo common historical experience, that the First Amendment to our Constitution prohibited the new government from infringing on the religious liberties of anyone. But the point is, America is unique in having been founded by members of two religions fleeing persecution for their beliefs.

Then there is the Pilgrims&rsquo likening of themselves and their flight from Europe to the New World to the Israelites&rsquo flight from Egypt to the Promised Land.

And that was just the beginning, as proto-Americans continued to identify with the ancient Israelites throughout the Revolutionary War. As historian Don Higgenbotham writes in The War of American Independence (emphasis mine):

In most of the colonies that had militia, a major part of each training day was a sermon, sometimes called an "artillery sermon," which "literally bristled with Old Testament injunctions in support of a just war."&hellip Several generations of Americans saw themselves transformed into the Biblical David, while France (and later Britain) was Goliath incarnate."

No less a figure than Thomas Paine, in Common Sense, arguably the spark that ignited the American Revolution, cites the Jews as argument both against continued allegiance to a monarch and for independence. He then ices the cake by further citing his perceived notion of &ldquoJewish exceptionalism&rdquo to exhort his countrymen to embrace the concept of American exceptionalism (emphasis mine):

The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable but so it was, that&hellip they came&hellip to Samuel, saying, BEHOLD THOU ART OLD, AND THY SONS WALK NOT IN THY WAYS, NOW MAKE US A KING TO JUDGE US, LIKE ALL OTHER NATIONS. And here we cannot but observe that their motives were bad, viz. that they might be LIKE unto other nations&hellip whereas their true glory laid in being as much UNLIKE them as possible.

And need I mention that both and America and modern Israel had to wrest their independence not just from a European power, but from the same European power &ndash Great Britain?

2. America and Israel share the same values.

America is commonly, and correctly, characterized as a Judeo-Christian country.

And it is equally accurate to call modern Israel a &ldquoChristo-Jewish state.&rdquo

I am far from the first observer to note the Old Testament (read: Torah) tone to the Gettysburg Address &ndash &ldquoFour score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent&hellip,&rdquo not to mention Lincoln&rsquos directly quoting Psalm 19:9, from the Hebrew Bible: &ldquo[T]he judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.&rdquo

But of course, the Second Inaugural contains another memorable passage &ndash one suffused with Christianity:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

That&rsquos Jesus speaking there, not Moses. Or to put it another way, the citizens of Richmond and Atlanta would have gotten a much better deal from Lincoln, had he lived, than the citizens of Jericho got from Joshua. And so, too, will the citizens or Ramallah and Gaza City if/when they make peace with the Jewish state. Is there any question that Hamas&rsquos most fervent wish is to destroy the Jewish state? Is there any question that Israel seeks only the same peace she already enjoys with Egypt and Jordan?

But Lincoln&rsquos words aside, what about Lincoln the man? Lincoln was a Christian, of course. And yet&hellip (emphasis mine):

America made it by the skin of her teeth, by the grace of God. We nearly dissolved in the Civil War, and no-one but a president with the character of a Hebrew prophet could have extricated us from disaster.

I have just given you two reasons why I believe America loves Israel and vice-versa. But why do so many Europeans hate both us? One reason, certainly, is the American and Jewish exceptionalism I cited earlier. Europeans simply cannot countenance the high opinions that we Americans and our Israeli counterparts have of ourselves. And it seems that the only thing Europe hates more than our and Israel&rsquos belief in each people&rsquos exceptional nature is our evident joy in proclaiming our exceptionalism openly. Elite Europeans view such open bragging with undisguised distaste.

Problem is, to paraphrase baseball great Jay &ldquoDizzy&rdquo Dean, it ain&rsquot braggin&rsquo if you can do it.

And America and Israel have shown, over and over, throughout history, that they can do it.

Worse, the people, in America and in Israel, who are &ldquodoing it&rdquo are people Europe did not want. But America did, as immortalized in the words, by the American &ndash and Jewish &ndash poet Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me&hellip

To have been not just equaled, but surpassed by this &ldquowretched refuse,&rdquo not to mention being totally dependent on them for defense, must be galling to many Europeans.

Knowing that the processor chip and anti-virus software in the computer on which one is typing that latest BDS screed was developed and/or manufactured in Israel must be no joy, either.

America is no slouch in technological development (often in partnership with Israeli firms), either. But in Israel&rsquos case especially, one suspects that nothing &ndash nothing &ndash raises Europeans&rsquo blood pressures more than to see the people that Europe spat on literally for centuries transform themselves in the historical wink of any eye from this&hellip

That America &ndash a country founded and built, as was modern Israel, by Europe&rsquos &ldquowretched refuse,&rdquo fleeing European religious bigotry &ndash doesn&rsquot have Europe&rsquos problem with Israeli (read: Jewish) military prowess doesn&rsquot surprise me. That the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution &ldquocondemning the rising tide of anti-Semitism abroad&rdquo surprises me even less. &ldquoKeep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. And keep your Jew-haters, too.

And so, when Americans and Israelis look at each other, take pride in our respective achievements and &ndash yes &ndash our exceptional nature, each of us, American and Israeli, celebrates the praiseworthy qualities that we see in the other precisely because we see those same qualities in ourselves, can anyone be surprised when each asks the other the same question:


Why is Western Europe so secular?

If you have lived abroad, it is obvious that the United States is very religious for a wealthy country. Here are some explanations why:

One theory involves the different histories of religious marketing over the last two centuries. Because religion has a long history of state sponsorship in Europe, religious bodies there have perhaps grown lazy. State-supported congregations need not aggressively recruit parishioners to “stay in business.” In the United States, however, religions must support themselves and therefore are more aggressive “marketers,” going to much greater lengths to attract congregants than their European counterparts. In other words, American religious organizations spend a great deal of time and energy advertising, and their advertising nets results (Stark and Finke 2000).

A second theory involves the ethnic, racial, immigrant, and national diversity that typifies American society. Unlike certain European nations that are made up of relatively homogenous populations (Iceland, for instance), the United States is permeated by an enormous array of different cultural groups, whose members may find solidarity and community in religious involvement (Warner and Wittner 1998 Herberg 1955). For example, W.E.B. Du Bois, the first American sociologist of religion, observed the unparalleled importance of the church to black Americans, noting that, beyond promulgating theology, the black churches provided a social space and communal refuge in an often hostile world (Zuckerman 2002). In sum, it is possible that a significant level of ethnic/ cultural/racial heterogeneity, as typified by American society, spurs greater religious participation as people seek a sense of belonging or communal support.

A third consideration involves the possible impact of different social welfare systems. Perhaps when the government takes a greater role in providing social services, religion wanes, and when the government fails to provide extensive social services, religion thrives. For instance, religious belief and participation is the absolute lowest level in Scandinavia, whose countries are characterized by generous social support and extensive welfare systems. In contrast, the United States government offers far fewer social services and welfare programs than any European nation.

A fourth possibility may have to do with differing elementary and secondary educational systems. Perhaps the Europeans have done a better job of conveying rational thinking, scientific methodology, and skeptical inquiry to their children than have American educators.

My take: I don’t believe the fourth possibility of greater rationality. A big chunk of Germany, for instance, thinks that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. The first three all ring true. I would add that America is a more rural country with lower population density. This encourages religion over urban entertainments. Furthermore the European churches are identified with aristocratic landholding, taxation, and state privileges. That being said, I do not expect the low religiosity of Western Europe to last. Europe has gone through waves of greater and lesser secularization. Furthermore people may be biologically programmed to believe in myths and religions. The real puzzle is why religious suppliers have been so slow to offer products that suit the new European mentalities.


The Real Reason the French Work Less Than Americans Do

W hen the French government instituted a policy that will allow employees to disconnect from work email while they’re not in the office, effective at the start of 2017, many American workers may have looked across the ocean with jealousy.

Though the new French law doesn’t set any hard-and-fast rules, it’s designed to help workers limit the amount of time that work email infringes upon leisure time. It’s just one example of the many labor laws and norms&mdashfrom regulations that control actual hours worked to policies about paid parental leave&mdashthat tend to leave European workers with a more even work-life balance than their U.S. counterparts experience.

For instance, in 2015, the French worked an average of 1,482 hours a year, while American workers worked about 1,790 hours, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Meanwhile, U.S. workers&mdashwho receive about 15 days off per year&mdashalso get less vacation time than their European counterparts, who get about 30, according to a 2015 survey from Expedia.com. What’s more, while American employees take about 73% of their allotted vacation time, German and French workers take nearly all of the vacation time they’re allowed.

But how did the worker experience in these two regions get so different in the first place?

Some have argued that European culture is generally more inclined toward a leisurely pace than American culture is. However, the cause of that laid-back French workplace culture is about more than just some vague notion that relaxing is good. As TIME has previously reported, Americans used to believe that their own time spent at the office would decrease over time:

Factory output per worker jumped more than 40% from 1919 to 1925, and even the Great Depression would be only a blip in the broader trend. World War II&rsquos wage-controlled labor market compelled employers to offer better benefits to recruit workers. By 1961, a FORTUNE story heralded &ldquoThe Expanding Vacation&rdquo the piece suggested that organized labor had become sufficiently content with wages to a point where union leaders instead sought ways for workers to enjoy those wages. The United Auto Workers even founded a program whereby it would charter flights to Europe, Hawaii and Mexico for workers. A 1968 law moved several date-fixed federal holidays to Mondays, creating the modern three-day weekend.

But by the 1970s, the steady decline in the average length of the American workweek reversed itself. The decade brought a rise in consumerism that coincided with a slowdown in economic growth, forcing Americans to work more hours just to maintain an ill-considered standard of living, argued sociologist Juliet Schor in her 1992 book The Overworked American. We had volunteered to exhaust ourselves.

Meanwhile, until the 1970s, French employees worked more hours than Americans did.

The reversal can be traced to union and collective-bargaining contracts, says Bruce Sacerdote, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College who has studied workplace trends in the U.S. and in European countries. As unemployment rose in France in the 1970s, French unions responded to the economic trouble in a way that was very different from the response to slowing growth in the U.S.: they advocated a policy of work sharing, in which individual workers’ hours would be reduced in response to the increasing number of people without jobs. Using catchphrases like “work less, work all,” they argued that society would benefit if the same amount of work could be done by a greater number of workers, with each working less.

These attractive policies caused the unions to become stronger and represent more workers. Eventually, they secured valuable time off &mdash which, by the time the economic downturn had passed, had become the status quo in France. Once workers were given several weeks off in August, for instance, they understandably didn’t want to later give up that prized vacation time.

That situation also led to what Sacerdote called a “coordination benefit.” France, for example, has 25 federally-mandated vacation days, allowing most employees in the country to be off at the same time. That way, productivity doesn’t suffer in the same way that it would if people staggered their vacation days.

“It led to a general feeling that this was a good thing, that they wanted to be off at the same time,” Sacerdote said, comparing that plan to the informal break that tends to occur between the Christmas holidays and New Year’s Day in the U.S.

And experts say that coordination is not the only benefit of the French method. Though the U.S. is more productive than France in terms of output per worker and income per capita, France’s policies are not making the country lazy. Instead, taking a liberal amount of time off&mdashand fully disconnecting when they do so&mdashtends to make people more productive during the hours they’re actually on the clock, Sacerdote said.

“Almost as much productivity can happen, but within a defined set of hours,” Sacerdote said. “It’s setting an expectation people don’t feel like they have to be checking email.”


Scientific positivism

This desire for renewed faith and passion, however, found alternative goals. One was scientific positivism the other was the cult of art. The name positivism is the creation of Auguste Comte, a French thinker of a mathematical cast of mind who in 1824 began to supply a philosophy of the natural sciences opposed to all metaphysics. Science, according to Comte, delivers unshakable truth by limiting itself to the statement of relations among phenomena. It does not explain but describes—and that is all mankind needs to know. From the physical sciences rise the social and mental sciences in regular gradation (Comte coined the word sociology), and from these man will learn, in time, how to live in society.

Having elaborated this austere system, Comte discovered the softer emotions through a woman’s love, and he amended his scheme to provide a “religion of humanity” with the worship of secular saints, under a political arrangement that the sympathetic Mill nonetheless described as “the government of a beleaguered town.” Comte did not attract many orthodox disciples, but the influence of his positivism was very great down to recent times. Not alone in Europe but also in South America it formed a certain type of mind that survives to this day among some scientists and many engineers.


Why Religion Rules American Politics

Religion is important for American politics because religion is important for Americans. 1 Yet, there are factors in American political life that amplify the role of religion in a way that is not seen in other developed countries.

For a developed country, the U.S. is extraordinarily high on religion. Thus 65 percent of Americans say that religion is important in their daily lives compared to just 17 percent of Swedes, 19 percent of Danes, and 24 percent of Japanese. 2

Why America is more religious than Europe
There are several likely reasons why Americans say that they are so much more religious than Europeans. One may be that they exaggerate their own religiosity in the same way that they claim about twice the attendance rates relative to people actually showing up in church. 1

There is also a large immigrant population, many of whom hail from countries that are poor and comparatively religious. Immigrant groups that happen to be linguistically isolated may remain quite religious even if the broader society becomes increasingly secular. 1

Life is more difficult in the U.S. than in Europe by several measures even though Europe is currently in an economic decline. 3 Problems here range from health problems and lower life expectancy, to higher crime rates, and relative lack of involvement in the community. 4 All of these problems are bound up with inequality - with a chasm between the living conditions of rich and poor. 4 This gap has widened in recent decades and reveals holes in social safety nets relative to Europe. 5

So Americans feel far less secure economically, and in relation to their health and well-being than the overall wealth of the country in terms of GDP per capita would predict. 4 This existential insecurity provides a fertile ground for religion. 1

Historians are fond of attributing American religiosity to historical factors such as the Puritan founders. Yet history counts for little in these matters given that virtually every country has a devout past -- specifically the currently secular countries of Europe.

Why religion is emphasized in American politics
Religion influences American politics to a degree not seen in other developed countries. Despite the constitutional firewall between church and state, national politicians hardly ever give a major speech without invoking religion.

The president is forever asking God to bless America, sending his prayers to victims of disasters, hosting religious leaders, and extolling religious values. Such advocacy of religion is unheard of in Europe but that may be because the majority is no longer religious and because voting members of the native population (as distinct from immigrants) are not very devout.

In America, religion is much more a part of public life whatever the constitution says. There are various reasons for this. One is that evangelical Christians under the banner of the Moral Majority made a determined push to influence political leaders since the 1970s and to inject religion into political debates. This broad agenda animates contemporary right-wing media including talk radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and TV channels such as Fox News.

The religious propensities of immigrants mean that they are receptive to the conservative religious message and can be induced to vote across class lines. In doing so they support an agenda that favors the wealthy and makes them even poorer.

Given this threat from the religious right, Democrats feel pressure to emphasize their own religious credentials, or risk losing a chunk of the poorer immigrant population who make up their natural constituency.

So religion is embroiled in American political life and that magnifies the apparent significance of religion in people's everyday lives. According to wits, U.S. conservatives went to war in Afghanistan to separate religion from politics abroad while striving to unite religion and politics at home.

American politicians talk a lot about religion. Yet, they have no more in common with theocrats like the Taliban than ordinary Americans have with the religious fervor of ordinary Afghanis.

Many poor people in America undermine their economic interests by voting for Republican politicians who are interested in further concentrating wealth in the hands of the affluent. They do so, in part, because the Republicans appeal to their religious propensity.

That religious propensity is strengthened by increasing insecurity in the lives of the poor because difficult living conditions are associated with increased religiosity. 1 So the worse their living conditions become, the more likely they are to follow a self-defeating voting pattern. That seems like another great reason for really separating church and state.

Sources
1. Barber, N. (2012). Why atheism will replace religion: The triumph of earthly pleasures over pie in the sky. E-book, available here.


Contents

Emergence Edit

As with all ethnic groups, the ethnogenesis of the Dutch (and their predecessors) has been a lengthy and complex process. Though the majority of the defining characteristics (such as language, religion, architecture or cuisine) of the Dutch ethnic group have accumulated over the ages, it is difficult (if not impossible) to clearly pinpoint the exact emergence of the Dutch people the interpretation of which is often highly personal. The text below hence focuses on the history of the Dutch ethnic group for Dutch national history, please see the history-articles of the Netherlands. For Dutch colonial history, see the article on the Dutch Empire.

General Edit

In the first centuries CE, the Germanic tribes formed tribal societies with no apparent form of autocracy (chiefs only being elected in times of war), beliefs based Germanic paganism and speaking a dialect still closely resembling Common Germanic. Following the end of the migration period in the West around 500, with large federations (such as the Franks, Vandals, Alamanni and Saxons) settling the decaying Roman Empire, a series of monumental changes took place within these Germanic societies. Among the most important of these are their conversion from Germanic paganism to Christianity, the emergence of a new political system, centered on kings, and a continuing process of emerging mutual unintelligibility of their various dialects.

Specific Edit

The general situation described above is applicable to most if not all modern European ethnic groups with origins among the Germanic tribes, such as the Frisians, Germans, English and the North-Germanic (Scandinavian) peoples. In the Low Countries, this phase began when the Franks, themselves a union of multiple smaller tribes (many of them, such as the Batavi, Chauci, Chamavi and Chattuarii, were already living in the Low Countries prior to the forming of the Frankish confederation), began to incur the northwestern provinces of the Roman Empire. Eventually, in 358, the Salian Franks, one of the three main subdivisions among the Frankish alliance [39] settled the area's Southern lands as foederati Roman allies in charge of border defense. [40]

Linguistically Old Frankish or Low Franconian gradually evolved into Old Dutch, [41] [42] which was first attested in the 6th century, [43] whereas religiously the Franks (beginning with the upper class) converted to Christianity from around 500 to 700. On a political level, the Frankish warlords abandoned tribalism [44] and founded a number of kingdoms, eventually culminating in the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne.

However, the population make-up of the Frankish Empire, or even early Frankish kingdoms such as Neustria and Austrasia, was not dominated by Franks. Though the Frankish leaders controlled most of Western Europe, the Franks themselves were confined to the Northwestern part (i.e. the Rhineland, the Low Countries and Northern France) of the Empire. [45] Eventually, the Franks in Northern France were assimilated by the general Gallo-Roman population, and took over their dialects (which became French), whereas the Franks in the Low Countries retained their language, which would evolve into Dutch. The current Dutch-French language border has (with the exception of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in France and Brussels and the surrounding municipalities in Belgium) remained virtually identical ever since, and could be seen as marking the furthest pale of gallicization among the Franks. [46]

Convergence Edit

The medieval cities of the Low Countries, which experienced major growth during the 11th and 12th century, were instrumental in breaking down the already relatively loose local form of feudalism. As they became increasingly powerful, they used their economical strength to influence the politics of their nobility. [47] [48] [49] During the early 14th century, beginning in and inspired by the County of Flanders, [50] the cities in the Low Countries gained huge autonomy and generally dominated or greatly influenced the various political affairs of the fief, including marriage succession.

While the cities were of great political importance, they also formed catalysts for medieval Dutch culture. Trade flourished, population numbers increased dramatically, and (advanced) education was no longer limited to the clergy Dutch epic literature such as Elegast (1150), the Roelantslied and Van den vos Reynaerde (1200) were widely enjoyed. The various city guilds as well as the necessity of water boards (in charge of dikes, canals, etc.) in the Dutch delta and coastal regions resulted in an exceptionally high degree of communal organization. It is also around this time, that ethnonyms such as Diets and Nederlands emerge. [51]

In the second half of the 14th century, the dukes of Burgundy gained a foothold in the Low Countries through the marriage in 1369 of Philip the Bold of Burgundy to the heiress of the Count of Flanders. This was followed by a series of marriages, wars, and inheritances among the other Dutch fiefs and around 1450 the most important fiefs were under Burgundian rule, while complete control was achieved after the end of the Guelders Wars in 1543, thereby unifying the fiefs of the Low Countries under one ruler. This process marked a new episode in the development of the Dutch ethnic group, as now political unity started to emerge, consolidating the strengthened cultural and linguistic unity.

Consolidation Edit

Despite their linguistic and cultural unity, and (in the case of Flanders, Brabant and Holland) economic similarities, there was still little sense of political unity among the Dutch people. [52]

However, the centralist policies of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries, at first violently opposed by the cities of the Low Countries, had a profound impact and changed this. During Charles the Bold's many wars, which were a major economic burden for the Burgundian Netherlands, tensions slowly increased. In 1477, the year of Charles' sudden death at Nancy, the Low Countries rebelled against their new liege, Mary of Burgundy, and presented her with a set of demands.

The subsequently issued Great Privilege met many of these demands, which included that Dutch, not French, should be the administrative language in the Dutch-speaking provinces and that the States-General had the right to hold meetings without the monarch's permission or presence. The overall tenure of the document (which was declared void by Mary's son and successor, Philip IV) aimed for more autonomy for the counties and duchies, but nevertheless all the fiefs presented their demands together, rather than separately. This is evidence that by this time a sense of common interest was emerging among the provinces of the Netherlands. The document itself clearly distinguishes between the Dutch speaking and French speaking parts of the Seventeen Provinces.

Following Mary's marriage to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, the Netherlands were now part of the Habsburg lands. Further centralized policies of the Habsburgs (like their Burgundian predecessors) again met with resistance, but, peaking with the formation of the collateral councils of 1531 and the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, were still implemented. The rule of Philip II of Spain sought even further centralist reforms, which, accompanied by religious dictates and excessive taxation, resulted in the Dutch Revolt. The Dutch provinces, though fighting alone now, for the first time in their history found themselves fighting a common enemy. This, together with the growing number of Dutch intelligentsia and the Dutch Golden Age in which Dutch culture, as a whole, gained international prestige, consolidated the Dutch as an ethnic group.

National identity Edit

By the middle of the 16th century an overarching, 'national' (rather than 'ethnic') identity seemed in development in the Habsburg Netherlands, when inhabitants began to refer to it as their 'fatherland' and were beginning to be seen as a collective entity abroad however, the persistence of language barriers, traditional strife between towns, and provincial particularism continued to form an impediment to more thorough unification. [53] Following excessive taxation together with attempts at diminishing the traditional autonomy of the cities and estates in the Low Countries, followed by the religious oppression after being transferred to Habsburg Spain, the Dutch revolted, in what would become the Eighty Years' War. For the first time in their history, the Dutch established their independence from foreign rule. [54] However, during the war it became apparent that the goal of liberating all the provinces and cities that had signed the Union of Utrecht, which roughly corresponded to the Dutch-speaking part of the Spanish Netherlands, was unreachable. The Northern provinces were free, but during the 1580s the South was recaptured by Spain, and, despite various attempts, the armies of the Republic were unable to expel them. In 1648, the Peace of Münster, ending the Eighty Years' War, acknowledged the independence of the Dutch Republic, but maintained Spanish control of the Southern Netherlands. Apart from a brief reunification from 1815 until 1830, within the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (which included the Francophones/Walloons) the Dutch have been separated from the Flemings to this day.

Dutch Empire Edit

The Dutch colonial empire (Dutch: Het Nederlandse Koloniale Rijk) comprised the overseas territories and trading posts controlled and administered by Dutch chartered companies (mainly the Dutch West India Company and the Dutch East India Company) and subsequently by the Dutch Republic (1581–1795), and by the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands after 1815. This and the innovations around it, has left behind a substantial legacy [55] despite the relatively small size of their country. The Dutch people have been pioneers of capitalism, [56] [57] and their more recent emphasis on a modern economy, secularism, and a free market [35] ultimately had a huge influence on the great powers of the West, especially the British Empire, its Thirteen Colonies, and ultimately the United States. [58]

The ideologies associated with (Romantic) Nationalism of the 19th and 20th centuries never really caught on in the Netherlands, and this, together with being a relatively mono-ethnic society up until the late 1950s, has led to a relatively obscure use of the terms nation and ethnicity as both were largely overlapping in practice. Today, despite other ethnicities making up 19.6% of the Netherlands' population, this obscurity continues in colloquial use, in which Nederlander sometimes refers to the ethnic Dutch, sometimes to anyone possessing Dutch citizenship. [59] In addition to this, many Dutch people will object to being called Hollanders as a national denominator on much the same grounds as many Welsh or Scots would object to being called English instead of British.

The (re)definition of Dutch cultural identity has become a subject of public debate in recent years following the increasing influence of the European Union and the influx of non-Western immigrants in the post-World War II period. In this debate typically Dutch traditions have been put to the foreground. [60]

In sociological studies and governmental reports, ethnicity is often referred to with the terms autochtoon and allochtoon. [61] These legal concepts refer to place of birth and citizenship rather than cultural background and do not coincide with the more fluid concepts of ethnicity used by cultural anthropologists.

Greater Netherlands Edit

As did many European ethnicities during the 19th century, [62] the Dutch also saw the emerging of various Greater Netherlands- and pan-movements seeking to unite the Dutch-speaking peoples across the continent. During the first half of the 20th century, there was a prolific surge in writings concerning the subject. One of its most active proponents was the historian Pieter Geyl, who wrote De Geschiedenis van de Nederlandsche stam ('The History of the Dutch tribe/people') as well as numerous essays on the subject.

During World War II, when both Belgium and the Netherlands fell to German occupation, fascist elements (such as the NSB and Verdinaso) tried to convince the Nazis into combining the Netherlands and Flanders. The Germans however refused to do so, as this conflicted with their ultimate goal, the Neuordnung ('New Order') of creating a single pan-Germanic racial state. [63] During the entire Nazi occupation, the Germans denied any assistance to Greater Dutch ethnic nationalism, and, by decree of Hitler himself, actively opposed it. [64]

The 1970s marked the beginning of formal cultural and linguistic cooperation between Belgium (Flanders) and the Netherlands on an international scale.

The total number of Dutch can be defined in roughly two ways. By taking the total of all people with full Dutch ancestry, according to the current CBS definition, resulting in an estimated 16,000,000 Dutch people, [note 1] or by the sum of all people with both full and partial Dutch ancestry, which would result in a number around 25,000,000.

Language Edit

Dutch is the main language spoken by most Dutch people. It is a West Germanic language spoken by around 29 million people. Old Frankish, a precursor of the Dutch standard language, was first attested around 500, [65] in a Frankish legal text, the Lex salica, and has a written record of more than 1500 years, although the material before around 1200 is fragmentary and discontinuous.

As a West Germanic language, Dutch is related to other languages in that group such as West Frisian, English and German. Many West Germanic dialects underwent a series of sound shifts. The Anglo-Frisian nasal spirant law and Anglo-Frisian brightening resulted in certain early Germanic languages evolving into what are now English and West Frisian, while the Second Germanic sound shift resulted in what would become (High) German. Dutch underwent none of these sound changes and thus occupies a central position in the West Germanic languages group.

Standard Dutch has a sound inventory of 13 vowels, 6 diphthongs and 23 consonants, of which the voiceless velar fricative (hard ch) is considered a well known sound, perceived as typical for the language. Other relatively well known features of the Dutch language and usage are the frequent use of digraphs like Oo, Ee, Uu and Aa, the ability to form long compounds and the use of slang, including profanity.

The Dutch language has many dialects. These dialects are usually grouped into six main categories Hollandic, West-Flemish/Zeelandic, East Flemish, Brabantic, Limburgish and Dutch Saxon. [66] Of these dialects, Hollandic and Dutch Saxon are solely spoken by Northerners. Brabantic, East Flemish, West-Flemish/Zeelandic and Limburgish are cross border dialects in this respect. Lastly, the dialectal situation is characterised by the major distinction between 'Hard G' and 'Soft G' speaking areas (see also Dutch phonology). Some linguists subdivide these into approximately 28 distinct dialects. [67]

Dutch immigrants also exported the Dutch language. Dutch was spoken by some settlers in the United States as a native language from the arrival of the first permanent Dutch settlers in 1615, surviving in isolated ethnic pockets until about 1900, when it ceased to be spoken except by first generation Dutch immigrants. The Dutch language nevertheless had a significant impact on the region around New York. For example, the first language of American president Martin Van Buren was Dutch. [68] [69] Most of the Dutch immigrants of the 20th century quickly began to speak the language of their new country. For example, of the inhabitants of New Zealand, 0.7% say their home language is Dutch, [70] despite the percentage of Dutch heritage being considerably higher. [71]

Dutch is currently an official language of the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, Aruba, Sint Maarten, Curaçao, the European Union and the Union of South American Nations (due to Suriname being a member). In South Africa and Namibia, Afrikaans is spoken, a daughter language of Dutch, which itself was an official language of South Africa until 1983. The Dutch, Flemish and Surinamese governments coordinate their language activities in the Nederlandse Taalunie ('Dutch Language Union'), an institution also responsible for governing the Dutch Standard language, for example in matters of orthography.

Etymology of autonym and exonym Edit

The origins of the word Dutch go back to Proto-Germanic, the ancestor of all Germanic languages, *theudo (meaning "national/popular") akin to Old Dutch dietsc, Old High German diutsch, Old English þeodisc and Gothic þiuda all meaning "(of) the common (Germanic) people". As the tribes among the Germanic peoples began to differentiate its meaning began to change. The Anglo-Saxons of England for example gradually stopped referring to themselves as þeodisc and instead started to use Englisc, after their tribe. On the continent *theudo evolved into two meanings: Diets meaning "Dutch (people)" (archaic) [72] and Deutsch (German, meaning "German (people)"). At first the English language used (the contemporary form of) Dutch to refer to any or all of the Germanic speakers on the European mainland (e.g. the Dutch, the Frisians and the Germans). Gradually its meaning shifted to the Germanic people they had most contact with, both because of their geographical proximity, but also because of the rivalry in trade and overseas territories: the people from the Republic of the Netherlands, the Dutch.

In the Dutch language, the Dutch refer to themselves as Nederlanders. Nederlanders derives from the Dutch word Neder, a cognate of English Nether both meaning "low", and "near the sea" (same meaning in both English and Dutch), a reference to the geographical texture of the Dutch homeland the western portion of the North European Plain. [73] [74] [75] [76] Although not as old as Diets, the term Nederlands has been in continuous use since 1250. [51]

Names Edit

Dutch surnames (and surnames of Dutch origin) are generally easily recognizable. There are several main types of surnames in Dutch:

    the name is based on the personal name of the father of the bearer. Historically this has been by far the most dominant form. These type of names fluctuated in form as the surname was not constant. If a man called Willem Janssen (William, John's son) had a son named Jacob, he would be known as Jacob Willemsen (Jacob, Williams' son). Following civil registry, the form at time of registry became permanent. Hence today many Dutch people are named after ancestors living in the early 19th century when civil registry was introduced to the Low Countries. These names rarely feature tussenvoegsels. the name is based on the location on which the bearer lives or lived. In Dutch this form of surname nearly always includes one or several tussenvoegsels, mainly van, van de and variants. Many emigrants removed the spacing, leading to derived names for well-known people like Cornelius Vanderbilt. [77] While van denotes of, Dutch surnames are sometimes associated with the upper class of society or aristocracy (cf. William of Orange). However, in Dutch van often reflects the original place of origin (Van der Bilt – One who comes from De Bilt) rather than denote any aristocratic status. [78] the name is based on the occupation of the bearer. Well known examples include Molenaar, Visser and Smit. This practice is similar to English surnames (the example names translate perfectly to Miller, Fisher and Smith). [79] based on nicknames relating to physical appearance or other features, on the appearance or character of the bearer (at least at the time of registration). For example De Lange ('the tall one'), De Groot ('the big one'), De Dappere ('the brave one').
  • Other surnames may relate to animals. For example De Leeuw ('The Lion'), Vogels ('Birds'), Koekkoek ('Cuckoo') and Devalck ('The Falcon') to a desired social status e.g., Prins ('Prince'), De Koninck/Koning ('King'), De Keyzer/Keizer ('Emperor') or to color e.g. Rood ('red'), Blauw ('blue'), de Wit ('the white'). There is also a set of made up or descriptive names e.g. Naaktgeboren ('born naked').

Dutch names can differ greatly in spelling. The surname Baks, for example is also recorded as Backs, Bacxs, Bax, Bakx, Baxs, Bacx, Backx, Bakxs and Baxcs. Though written differently, pronunciation remains identical. Dialectal variety also commonly occurs, with De Smet and De Smit both meaning Smith for example. Surnames of Dutch migrants in foreign environments (mainly the English-speaking world and Francophonie) are often adapted, not only in pronunciation but also in spelling.

Religion Edit

Prior to the arrival of Christianity, the ancestors of the Dutch adhered to a form of Germanic paganism augmented with various Celtic elements. At the start of the 6th century, the first (Hiberno-Scottish) missionaries arrived. They were later replaced by Anglo-Saxon missionaries, who eventually succeeded in converting most of the inhabitants by the 8th century. [80] Since then, Christianity has been the dominant religion in the region.

In the early 16th century, the Protestant Reformation began to form and soon spread in the Westhoek and the County of Flanders, where secret open-air sermons were held, called hagenpreken ('hedgerow orations') in Dutch. The ruler of the Dutch regions, Philip II of Spain, felt it was his duty to fight Protestantism and, after the wave of iconoclasm, sent troops to crush the rebellion and make the Low Countries a Catholic region once more. [81] The Protestants in the southern Low Countries fled North en masse. [81] Most of the Dutch Protestants were now concentrated in the free Dutch provinces north of the river Rhine, while the Catholic Dutch were situated in the Spanish-occupied or -dominated South. After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Protestantism did not spread South, resulting in a difference in religious situations.

Contemporary Dutch, according to a 2017 study conducted by Statistics Netherlands, are mostly irreligious with 51% of the population professing no religion. The largest Christian denomination with 24% are the Roman Catholics, followed by 15% Protestants. Furthermore, there are 5% Muslims and 6% others (among others buddhists). [82] People of Dutch ancestry in the United States and South Africa are generally more religious than their European counterparts for example, the numerous Dutch communities of western Michigan remain strongholds of the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church, both descendants of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Cultural divergences Edit

One cultural division within Dutch culture is that between the formerly Protestant North and the nowadays Catholic South, which encompasses various cultural differences between the Northern Dutch on one side and the Southern Dutch on the other. This subject has historically received attention from historians, notably Pieter Geyl (1887–1966) and Carel Gerretson (1884–1958). The historical pluriformity of the Dutch cultural landscape has given rise to several theories aimed at both identifying and explaining cultural divergences between different regions. One theory, proposed by A.J. Wichers in 1965, sees differences in mentality between the southeastern, or 'higher', and northwestern, or 'lower' regions within the Netherlands, and seeks to explain these by referring to the different degrees to which these areas were feudalised during the Middle Ages. [83] Another, more recent cultural divide is that between the Randstad, the urban agglomeration in the West of the country, and the other provinces of the Netherlands.

In Dutch, the cultural division between North and South is also referred to by the colloquialism "below/above the great rivers" as the rivers Rhine and Meuse roughly form a natural boundary between the Northern Dutch (those Dutch living North of these rivers), and the Southern Dutch (those living South of them). The division is partially caused by (traditional) religious differences, with the North used to be predominantly Protestant and the South still having a majority of Catholics. Linguistic (dialectal) differences (positioned along the Rhine/Meuse rivers) and to a lesser extent, historical economic development of both regions are also important elements in any dissimilarity.

On a smaller scale cultural pluriformity can also be found be it in local architecture or (perceived) character. This wide array of regional identities positioned within such a relatively small area, has often been attributed to the fact that many of the current Dutch provinces were de facto independent states for much of their history, as well as the importance of local Dutch dialects (which often largely correspond with the provinces themselves) to the people who speak them. [84]

Northern Dutch culture Edit

Northern Dutch culture is marked by Protestantism. Though today many do not adhere to Protestantism anymore, or are only nominally part of a congregation, Protestant-(influenced) values and custom are present. Generally, it can be said the Northern Dutch are more pragmatic, favor a direct approach, and display a less-exuberant lifestyle when compared to Southerners. [86] On a global scale, the Northern Dutch have formed the dominant vanguard of the Dutch language and culture since the fall of Antwerp, exemplified by the use of "Dutch" itself as the demonym for the country in which they form a majority the Netherlands. Linguistically, Northerners speak any of the Hollandic, Zeelandic, and Dutch Low Saxon dialects natively, or are influenced by them when they speak the Standard form of Dutch. Economically and culturally, the traditional centre of the region have been the provinces of North and South Holland, or today the Randstad, although for a brief period during the 13th or 14th century it lay more towards the east, when various eastern towns and cities aligned themselves with the emerging Hanseatic League. The entire Northern Dutch cultural area is located in the Netherlands, its ethnically Dutch population is estimated to be just under 10,000,000. [note 2] Northern Dutch culture has been less influenced by French influence than the Southern Dutch culture area. [87]

Frisians Edit

Frisians, specifically West Frisians, are an ethnic group present in the north of the Netherlands, mainly concentrated in the province of Friesland. Culturally, modern Frisians and the (Northern) Dutch are rather similar the main and generally most important difference being that Frisians speak West Frisian, one of the three sub-branches of the Frisian languages, alongside Dutch, and they find this to be a defining part of their identity as Frisians. [88]

West Frisians are a part of the Interfrisian Council, established in 1956, which works to promote and develop linguistic and cultural ties across the wider area of Frisia. The council also calls upon the German and Dutch governments to promote the language and culture in respective regions. [88]

According to a 1970 inquiry, West Frisians identified themselves more with the Dutch than with East Frisians or North Frisians. [89] A study in 1984 found that 39% of the inhabitants of Friesland considered themselves "primarily Frisian," although without precluding also being Dutch. A further 36 per cent claimed they were Dutch, but also Frisian, the remaining 25% saw themselves as only Dutch. [90] Nevertheless Frisians are not disambiguated from the Dutch people in Dutch official statistics. [91]

Many West Frisians maintain cultural ties with the other Frisian groups in nearby areas, and across national borders. [92]

Interestingly, in the Netherlands itself "West-Frisian" refers to the Hollandic dialect spoken in the northern part of the province of North-Holland known as West-Friesland, as well as "West-Frisians" referring to its speakers, not to the language or inhabitants of the Frisian part of the country. Historically the whole Dutch North Seacoast was known as Frisia until the incursion of what would become known as the South Sea (nowadays called IJsselmeer) in the early Middle Ages. Current day Friesland became separated from what is now known as North-Holland, but the Frisian influence lasted longest in the northernmost, hence most isolated part, and is apparently still recognizable today.

Southern Dutch culture Edit

The Southern Dutch sphere generally consists of the areas in which the population was traditionally Catholic. During the early Middle Ages up until the Dutch Revolt, the Southern regions were more powerful, as well as more culturally and economically developed. [86] At the end of the Dutch Revolt, it became clear the Habsburgs were unable to reconquer the North, while the North's military was too weak to conquer the South, which, under the influence of the Counter-Reformation, had started to develop a political and cultural identity of its own. [93] The Southern Dutch, including Dutch Brabant and Limburg, remained Catholic or returned to Catholicism. The Dutch dialects spoken by this group are Brabantic, South Guelderish, Limburgish and East and West Flemish. In the Netherlands, an oft-used adage used for indicating this cultural boundary is the phrase boven/onder de rivieren (Dutch: above/below the rivers), in which 'the rivers' refer to the Rhine and the Meuse. Southern Dutch culture has been influenced more by French culture, as opposed to the Northern Dutch culture area. [87]

Flemings Edit

Within the field of ethnography, it is argued that the Dutch-speaking populations of the Netherlands and Belgium have a number of common characteristics, with a mostly shared language, some generally similar or identical customs, and with no clearly separate ancestral origin or origin myth. [94]

However, the popular perception of being a single group varies greatly, depending on subject matter, locality, and personal background. Generally, the Flemish will seldom identify themselves as being Dutch and vice versa, especially on a national level. [95] This is partly caused by the popular stereotypes in the Netherlands as well as Flanders, which are mostly based on the "cultural extremes" of both Northern and Southern culture, including in religious identity. Though these stereotypes tend to ignore the transitional area formed by the Southern provinces of the Netherlands and most Northern reaches of Belgium, resulting in overgeneralizations. [96] This self-perceived split between Flemings and Dutch, despite the common language, may be compared to how Austrians do not consider themselves to be Germans, despite the similarities they share with southern Germans such as Bavarians. In both cases, the Catholic Austrians and Flemish do not see themselves as sharing the fundamentally Protestant-based identities of their northern counterparts.

In the case of Belgium, there is the added influence of nationalism as the Dutch language and culture were oppressed by the francophone government. This was followed by a nationalist backlash during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that saw little help from the Dutch government (which for a long time following the Belgian Revolution had a reticent and contentious relationship with the newly formed Belgium and a largely indifferent attitude towards its Dutch-speaking inhabitants) [97] and, hence, focused on pitting "Flemish" culture against French culture, resulting in the forming of the Flemish nation within Belgium, a consciousness of which can be very marked among some Dutch-speaking Belgians. [98]

The largest patterns of human genetic variation within the Netherlands show strong correlations with geography and distinguish between: (1) North and South (2) East and West and (3) the middle-band and the rest of the country. The distribution of gene variants for eye colour, metabolism, brain processes, body height and immune system show differences between these regions that reflect evolutionary selection pressures. [99]

The largest genetic differences within the Netherlands are observed between the North and the South (with the three major rivers - Rijn, Waal, Maas - as a border), with the Randstad showing a mixture of these two ancestral backgrounds. The European North-South cline correlates highly with this Dutch North-South cline and shows several other similarities, such as a correlation with height (with the North being taller on average), blue/brown eye colour (with the North having more blue eyes), and genome-wide homozygosity (with the North having lower homozygosity levels). The correlation with genome-wide homozygosity likely reflects the serial founder effect that was initiated with the ancient successive out-of-Africa migrations. This does not necessarily mean that these events (north-ward migration and evolutionary selection pressures) took place within the borders of the Netherlands it could also be that Southern Europeans have migrated more to the South of the Netherlands, and/or Northern Europeans more to the Northern parts. [99]

The North-South differences were likely maintained by the relatively strong segregation of the Catholic South and the Protestant North during the last centuries. During the last 50 years or so there was a large increase of non-religious individuals in the Netherlands. Their spouses are more likely to come from a different genetic background than those of religious individuals, causing non-religious individuals to show lower levels of genome-wide homozygosity than Catholics or Protestants. [100]

Since World War II, Dutch emigrants have mainly departed the Netherlands for Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States, Belgium, Australia, and South Africa, in that order. Today, large Dutch communities also exist in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Turkey, and New Zealand. [29]

Central and Eastern Europe Edit

During the German eastward expansion (mainly taking place between the 10th and 13th century), [101] a number of Dutchmen moved as well. They settled mainly east of the Elbe and Saale rivers, regions largely inhabited by Polabian Slavs [102] After the capture of territory along the Elbe and Havel Rivers in the 1160s, Dutch settlers from flooded regions in Holland used their expertise to build dikes in Brandenburg, but also settled in and around major German cities such as Bremen and Hamburg and German regions of Mecklenburg and Brandenburg. [103] From the 13th to the 15th centuries, Prussia invited several waves of Dutch and Frisians to settle throughout the country (mainly along the Baltic Sea coast) [104]

In the early-to-mid-16th century, Mennonites began to move from the Low Countries (especially Friesland and Flanders) to the Vistula delta region in Royal Prussia, seeking religious freedom and exemption from military service. [105] After the partition of Poland, the Prussian government took over and its government eliminated exemption from military service on religious grounds. The Mennonites emigrated to Russia. They were offered land along the Volga River. Some settlers left for Siberia in search for fertile land. [106] The Russian capital itself, Moscow, also had a number of Dutch immigrants, mostly working as craftsmen. Arguably the most famous of which was Anna Mons, the mistress of Peter the Great.

Historically Dutch also lived directly on the eastern side of the German border, most have since been assimilated (apart from

40,000 recent border migrants), especially since the establishment of Germany itself in 1872. Cultural marks can still be found though. In some villages and towns a Dutch Reformed church is present, and a number of border districts (such as Cleves, Borken and Viersen) have towns and village with an etymologically Dutch origin. In the area around Cleves (German Kleve, Dutch Kleef) traditional dialect is Dutch, rather than surrounding (High/Low) German. More to the South, cities historically housing many Dutch traders have retained Dutch exonyms for example Aachen (Aken) and Cologne/Köln (Keulen) to this day.

Southern Africa Edit

Although Portuguese explorers made contact with the Cape of Good Hope as early as 1488, much of present-day South Africa was ignored by Europeans until the Dutch East India Company (VOC) established its first outpost at Cape Town, in 1652. [107] [108] Dutch colonisers began arriving shortly thereafter, making the Cape home to the oldest Western-based civilisation south of the Sahara. [109] Some of the earliest mulatto communities in the country were subsequently formed through unions between colonists, enslaved people, and various Khoikhoi tribes. [110] This led to the development of a major South African ethnic group, Cape Coloureds, who adopted the Dutch language and culture. [108] As the number of Europeans—particularly women—in the Cape swelled, South African whites closed ranks as a community to protect their privileged status, eventually marginalising Coloureds as a separate and inferior racial group. [111]

Since VOC employees proved inept farmers, tracts of land were granted to married Dutch citizens who undertook to spend at least twenty years in South Africa. [112] Upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, they were joined by French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution at home, who interspersed among the original freemen. [107] Between 1685 and 1707 the Company also extended free passage to any Dutch families wishing to resettle at the Cape. [113] At the beginning of the eighteenth century there were roughly 600 people of Dutch birth or descent residing in South Africa, and around the end of Dutch rule in 1806 the number had reached 13,360. [114]

Some vrijburgers eventually turned to cattle ranching as trekboers, creating their own distinct sub-culture centered around a semi-nomadic lifestyle and isolated patriarchal communities. [109] By the eighteenth century there had emerged a new people in Africa who identified as Afrikaners, rather than Dutchmen, after the land they had colonised. [115]

Afrikaners are dominated by two main groups, the Cape Dutch and Boers, which are partly defined by different traditions of society, law, and historical economic bases. [109] Although their language (Afrikaans) and religion remain undeniably linked to that of the Netherlands, [116] Afrikaner culture has been strongly shaped by three centuries in South Africa. [115] Afrikaans, which developed from Middle Dutch, has been influenced by English, Malay-Portuguese creole, and various African languages. Dutch was taught to South African students as late as 1914 and a few upper-class Afrikaners used it in polite society, but the first Afrikaans literature had already appeared in 1861. [109] The Union of South Africa granted Dutch official status upon its inception, but in 1925 Parliament openly recognised Afrikaans as a separate language. [109] It differs from Standard Dutch by several pronunciations borrowed from Malay, German, or English, the loss of case and gender distinctions, and in the extreme simplification of grammar. [117] The dialects are no longer considered quite mutually intelligible. [118]

During the 1950s, Dutch immigration to South Africa began to increase exponentially for the first time in over a hundred years. The country registered a net gain of around 45,000 Dutch immigrants between 1950 and 2001, making it the sixth most popular destination for citizens of the Netherlands living abroad. [29]

Southeast Asia Edit

Since the 16th century, there has been a Dutch presence in South East Asia, Taiwan, and Japan. In many cases, the Dutch were the first Europeans whom the people living there encountered. Between 1602 and 1796, the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in its territories in Asia. [119] The majority died of disease or made their way back to Europe, but some of them made the Indies their new home. [120] Interaction between the Dutch and the indigenous populations mainly took place in Sri Lanka and the modern Indonesian Islands. Most of the time, Dutch soldiers married local women and settled in the colonies. Through the centuries, there developed a relatively large Dutch-speaking population of mixed Dutch and Indonesian descent, known as Indos or Dutch-Indonesians. The expulsion of Dutchmen following the Indonesian Revolt means that currently [ when? ] the majority of this group lives in the Netherlands. Statistics show that Indos are the largest minority group in the Netherlands and number close to half a million (excluding the third generation). [121]

West Africa Edit

Though many Ghanaians of European origin are mostly of British origin, there are a small number of Dutch people in Ghana. The forts in Ghana have a small number of a Dutch population. The most of the Dutch population is held in Accra, where the Netherlands has its embassy.

Australia and New Zealand Edit

Though the Dutch were the first Europeans to visit Australia and New Zealand, colonization did not take place and it was only after World War II that a sharp increase in Dutch emigration to Australia occurred. Poor economic prospects for many Dutchmen as well as increasing demographic pressures, in the post-war Netherlands were a powerful incentive to emigrate. Due to Australia experiencing a shortage of agricultural and metal industry workers it, and to a lesser extent New Zealand, seemed an attractive possibility, with the Dutch government actively promoting emigration. [122]

The effects of Dutch migration to Australia can still be felt. There are many Dutch associations and a Dutch-language newspaper continues to be published. The Dutch have remained a tightly knit community, especially in the large cities. In total, about 310,000 people of Dutch ancestry live in Australia whereas New Zealand has some 100,000 Dutch descendants. [122]

North America Edit

The Dutch had settled in America long before the establishment of the United States of America. [123] For a long time the Dutch lived in Dutch colonies, owned and regulated by the Dutch Republic, which later became part of the Thirteen Colonies.

Nevertheless, many Dutch communities remained virtually isolated towards the rest of America up until the American Civil War, in which the Dutch fought for the North and adopted many American ways. [124]

Most future waves of Dutch immigrants were quickly assimilated. There have been five American presidents of Dutch descent: Martin Van Buren (8th, first president who was not of British descent, first language was Dutch), Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd, elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms), Theodore Roosevelt (26th), as well as George H. W. Bush (41st) and George W. Bush (43rd), the latter two descendant from the Schuyler family.

The first Dutch people to come to Canada were Dutch Americans among the United Empire Loyalists. The largest wave was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when large numbers of Dutch helped settle the Canadian west. During this period significant numbers also settled in major cities like Toronto.

While interrupted by World War I, this migration returned in the 1920s, but again halted during the Great Depression and World War II. After the war a large number of Dutch immigrants moved to Canada, including a number of war brides of the Canadian soldiers who liberated the Low Countries.


Abortion Is Different in Europe Because Religion Is Different in Europe

The latest microtrend in anti-choice rhetoric is playing gotcha with the liberals by claiming that “even” the super-liberal socialist paradise of Europe has more restrictive abortion laws that we do. (Europe being treated like a single entity with a singular values system rather than a continent of diverse nations, of course.) Michael Gerson and Ross Douthat have both been whining recently that Europeans get to kick women around a lot more before they let them have an abortion, so why can’t America get a piece of the action?

Unfortunately, one pro-choicer, Emily Matchar, took the bait, writing for the Atlantic about how odd it is that “Europe,” which apparently includes Israel now, has more restrictive laws than the United States. The laws are often more paternalistic: Germany, France, and the Netherlands all have waiting periods to think it over, and many nations require you to offer a “reason” you’re getting an abortion, such as mental distress or poverty. There are often more restrictive time limits, too, with abortion only legal up to 12 or 14 weeks. (Never mind that American anti-choicers would never settle for capping abortion access at 12 or 14 weeks, as many nations in Europe do, but instead want to ban all abortion and severely restrict access to contraception.) Matchar has a novel theory as to why this might be:

A nice, neat theory that, in true centrist fashion, imagines there really must be some kind of trade-off of freedom for economic security, as conservatives like to warn. But if you understand that the debate about abortion is less about morality per se than it is about religion—specifically, how much Christianity and its deeply patriarchal history is woven into the legal fabric of a nation—then Matchar’s idea won’t fly.

Americans technically have a stronger wall between church and state, but in practice, we have a huge contingent of religious fundamentalists who control much of the government and use it to impose their strict religious dogma as often as they can get away with it. Many European countries, including England, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, either have a formal state church or church that is nationally recognized as the dominant church, and yet in daily practice, far fewer people in these nations are really religious, much less fundamentalist. Religion is often seen simply as a cultural/historical expression of national or ethnic character, but not necessarily a guiding force in everyday life.

Subsequently, while a lot of these nations have abortion laws that formally reflect Christian paternalism about reproduction and women’s roles, in practice, abortion is much easier to get than it is in the United States. You may have to provide a reason for your abortion in many nations, but it’s simply a formality, a box checked and not an obstacle. More importantly, the abortion providers aren’t being hounded out of existence and in many cases, the cost of the abortion is paid for by the state health care plan. Katha Pollitt recently elaborated in The Nation:

Abortion is also paid for by the NHS in England, even though it’s technically illegal if you don’t have mental or physical health reasons for getting one. Thing is, everyone who wants an abortion has a good reason for it, so this isn’t a substantive obstacle, though it is a nuisance. Waiting periods in all these nations are much less onerous, since your provider is right down the street and you can start the clock when you phone in for your appointment. (As opposed to here, where a woman might have to travel for hours to get to a clinic, only to have to either pay for a hotel room to wait out the waiting period, or drive home and then back yet again, missing work or child care.)

While overlooking the way that fealty to religion is skin-deep in Western Europe, Matchar’s inability to see the role religion plays in Eastern Europe is even more upsetting:

That may be the formal reason for why there’s a crackdown on abortion, but I suspect that the massive surge in hardline religious sentiment in Russia, egged on by the government, is probably the real reason. The crackdown on women’s rights cannot be separated from the rising tide of homophobia and violence against LGBT Russians, nor the outrageous sentencing of the members of Pussy Riot for what amounted to a harmless prank against the Russian Orthodox church. What’s happening in Russia is actually closer to what happened in the U.S., albeit on a much scarier level: Despite legally having freedom of religion, right-wing Christians have amassed a significant amount of cultural and political power that they’re now using to crack down on people they deem sexually deviant, from LGBT folks to women who have other goals besides being docile housewives who welcome every chance to have another baby.

Trying to talk about the struggle over reproductive rights while ignoring religion is like trying to understand sports while ignoring the existence of teams: You might come up with all sorts of compelling thoughts on why the ball is being tossed around, but you’re no closer to understanding the goal of the game.


The New French Right — C’est Catho!

Mark Lilla has a fascinating essay in the current New York Review of Books, about a new kind of conservative emerging on the French Right. Unfortunately it’s behind the NYRB paywall. I’m going to quote some of it here. Reading it, I thought, “They are talking about my Benedict Option friends in Paris.” When I sent those friends the text of the Lilla piece, I discovered that they talked to him at length for it.

He begins by talking about Marion Maréchal Le Pen’s addressing CPAC here in the US. I found her speech to be galvanizing, but Lilla rightly says that most American listeners probably couldn’t understand what she was getting at. The Lilla essay explains why. From the introductory section:

Something new is happening on the European right, and it involves more than xenophobic populist outbursts. Ideas are being developed, and transnational networks for disseminating them are being established. Journalists have treated as a mere vanity project Steve Bannon’s efforts to bring European populist parties and thinkers together under the umbrella of what he calls The Movement. But his instincts, as in American politics, are in tune with the times. (Indeed, one month after Marion’s appearance at CPAC, Bannon addressed the annual convention of the National Front.) In countries as diverse as France, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Italy, efforts are underway to develop a coherent ideology that would mobilize Europeans angry about immigration, economic dislocation, the European Union, and social liberalization, and then use that ideology to govern. Now is the time to start paying attention to the ideas of what seems to be an evolving right-wing Popular Front. France is a good place to start.

At the core of Lilla’s analysis is European Christian nationalism — a rising sense among younger Catholics on the continent that Christianity is a core part of European identity, and that Europe needs a politics based on a more intentional Christianity — a Christianity that regards the secularist liberal settlement of the European establishment (including center-right parties) as poison.

But they aren’t National Front types either. Lilla talks about the meaning of the massive La Manif pour Tous movement to block same-sex marriage, on the grounds that every child needs a father and a mother. Though we American Christians are supposed to be so much more religious than Europeans, nothing remotely like La Manif happened in America.:

The Catholic right’s campaign against same-sex marriage was doomed to fail, and it did. A large majority of the French support same-sex marriage, although only about seven thousand couples avail themselves of it each year. Yet there are reasons to think that the experience of La Manif could affect French politics for some time to come.

The first reason is that it revealed an unoccupied ideological space between the mainstream Republicans and the National Front. Journalists tend to present an overly simple picture of populism in contemporary European politics. They imagine there is a clear line separating legacy conservative parties like the Republicans, which have made their peace with the neoliberal European order, from xenophobic populist ones like the National Front, which would bring down the EU, destroy liberal institutions, and drive out as many immigrants and especially Muslims as possible.

These journalists have had trouble imagining that there might be a third force on the right that is not represented by either the establishment parties or the xenophobic populists. This narrowness of vision has made it difficult for even seasoned observers to understand the supporters of La Manif, who mobilized around what Americans call social issues and feel they have no real political home today. The Republicans have no governing ideology apart from globalist economics and worship of the state, and in

keeping with their Gaullist secular heritage have traditionally treated moral and religious issues as strictly personal, at least until Fillon’s anomalous candidacy. The National Front is nearly as secular and even less ideologically coherent, having served more as a refuge for history’s detritus—Vichy collaborators, resentful pieds noirs driven out of Algeria, Joan of Arc romantics, Jew- and Muslim-haters, skinheads—than as a party with a positive program for France’s future. A mayor once close to it now aptly calls it the “Dien Bien Phu right.”

The other reason La Manif might continue to matter is that it proved to be a consciousness-raising experience for a group of sharp young intellectuals, mainly Catholic conservatives, who see themselves as the avant-garde of this third force. In the last five years they have become a media presence, writing in newspapers like Le Figaro and newsweeklies like Le Point and Valeurs actuelles (Contemporary Values), founding new magazines and websites (Limite, L’Incorrect), publishing books, and making regular television appearances. People are paying attention, and a sound, impartial book on them has just appeared.

Whether anything politically significant will come out of this activity is difficult to know, given that intellectual fashions in France change about as quickly as the plat du jour. This past summer I spent some time reading and meeting these young writers in Paris and discovered more of an ecosystem than a cohesive, disciplined movement. Still, it was striking how serious they are and how they differ from American conservatives. They share two convictions: that a robust conservatism is the only coherent alternative to what they call the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of our time, and that resources for such a conservatism can be found on both sides of the traditional left–right divide. More surprising still, they are all fans of Bernie Sanders.

The intellectual ecumenism of these writers is apparent in their articles, which come peppered with references to George Orwell, the mystical writer-activist Simone Weil, the nineteenth-century anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt, the young Marx, the ex-Marxist Catholic philosopher Alasdair Macintyre, and especially the politically leftist, culturally conservative American historian Christopher Lasch, whose bons mots—“uprootedness uproots everything except the need for roots”—get repeated like mantras. They predictably reject the European Union, same-sex marriage, and mass immigration. But they also reject unregulated global financial markets, neoliberal austerity, genetic modification, consumerism, and AGFAM (Apple- Google-Facebook-Amazon-Microsoft).

One more passage, then I’ll stop:

That mélange may sound odd to our ears, but it is far more consistent than the positionsof contemporary American conservatives. Continental conservatism going back to the nineteenth century has always rested on an organic conception of society. It sees Europe as a single Christian civilization composed of different nations with distinct languages and customs. These nations are composed of families, which are organisms, too, with differing but complementary roles and duties for mothers, fathers, and children. On this view, the fundamental task of society is to transmit knowledge, morality, and culture to future generations, perpetuating the life of the civilizational organism. It is not to serve an agglomeration of autonomous individuals bearing rights.

Most of these young French conservatives’ arguments presume this organic conception. Why do they consider the European Union a danger? Because it rejects the cultural- religious foundation of Europe and tries to found it instead on the economic self-interest of individuals. To make matters worse, they suggest, the EU has encouraged the immigration of people from a different and incompatible civilization (Islam), stretching old bonds even further. Then, rather than fostering self-determination and a healthy diversity among nations, the EU has been conducting a slow coup d’état in the name of economic efficiency and homogenization, centralizing power in Brussels. Finally, in putting pressure on countries to conform to onerous fiscal policies that only benefit the rich, the EU has prevented them from taking care of their most vulnerable citizens and maintaining social solidarity. Now, in their view, the family must fend for itself in an economic world without borders, in a culture that willfully ignores its needs. Unlike their American counterparts, who celebrate the economic forces that most put “the family” they idealize under strain, the young French conservatives apply their organic vision to the economy as well, arguing that it must be subordinate to social needs.

Most surprising for an American reader is the strong environmentalism of these young writers, who entertain the notion that conservatives should, well, conserve. Their best journal is the colorful, well-designed quarterly Limite, which is subtitled “a review of integral ecology” and publishes criticism of neoliberal economics and environmental degradation as severe as anything one finds on the American left. (No climate denial here.) Some writers are no-growth advocates others are reading Proudhon and pushing for a decentralized economy of local collectives. Others still have left the city and write about their experiences running organic farms, while denouncing agribusiness, genetically modified crops, and suburbanization along the way. They all seem inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’ (2015), a comprehensive statement of Catholic social teaching on the environment and economic justice.

Maybe you can understand why I feel so much more at home when I’m in Europe with Christian intellectuals like these people than I do anywhere among American conservatives (unless Patrick Deneen, Mark Mitchell, Jeff Polet or someone in their Front Porch Republic circle are hosting). If you have a subscription, read the whole thing.

Lilla points out that many establishment intellectuals in France don’t take these young Catholics seriously. They mistakenly (says Lilla) view them as National Front apologists. I can tell you from personal experience that Lilla is right: this is simply not true at all. This is typical left-liberal ideological stupidity. I would not be at all surprised if the center-right Gaullist were making the same mistake. We saw Establishment conservatives in the US make the same kind of mistake with Trump.

Lilla points out that Marion Maréchal Le Pen left the National Front’s successor party, and dropped the “Le Pen” from her name. Unlike her infamous grandfather and her aunt Marine, Marion is an intellectual and a serious Catholic. And she is young. She is the kind of political figure that certain young right-of-center intellectuals in the US want Trump to be, but that’s beyond his capacity. He’s just not that into it.

I wish J.D. Vance would get to know the Limite and L’Incorrect crowd (I could make introductions!). He could be our own Marion, I think — though I concede that might be my own unrealistic political fantasizing. Marion Maréchal, like the writers and thinkers around those small magazines, come out of and speak to a coherent conservative cultural view that we simply do not have in America. Our conservatism is far more classically liberal, and captive to uncritical worship of the free market. The new French conservatives are not anti-capitalist, but they believe that economics should be understood and practiced with a more holistic ideal of the common good and national flourishing.

Some of these new French conservatives are readers and followers of The Benedict Option (indeed one of them, Hubert Darbon, translated it into French). Lilla points out that the Limite crowd is more inclined to move to villages, plant gardens, and raise kids in traditional Catholicism — check out my posts from earlier this year about the Journeés Paysannes — whereas the L’Incorrect gang is more interested in confronting the decaying Establishment, and undertaking a Gramscian march through the institutions. There’s a lot of crossover between Limite and L’Incorrect, in real life — my friend the journalist Yrieix Denis writes for both. I see no contradiction between the two approaches. I would only counsel strongly that those who favor more direct engagement with the world should make absolutely certain that they do so from a position of real spiritual strength and discipline.

If you read French, check out Limite here. Here is a translation of the magazine’s “manifesto”:

Limite is an ecology magazine founded in 2015.

The journal promotes an integral ecology that is based on the sense of balance and respect for the limits specific to each thing.

Ecology, because it is a science of interactions and conditions of existence, can not choose the human against nature or nature against the human.

Promoting integral ecology means caring for the most vulnerable and the oppressed as well as opposing all that our ways of life can have degrading and alienating.

Refusing the omnipotence of technology and money, Limite wants to work towards ecological awareness by promoting sobriety, the relocation of our lives, conviviality and fraternity.

In this perspective, Limite is orchestrated by different sensibilities that coexist in a common project: encouraging all alternatives to the market society. Refusing the “alternation without alternative” of the right/left split, Limite reaches out to all those who fight the double empire of soulless technology and the lawless market.

Marion Maréchal, as Lilla points out, is very much on the side of firm and decisive engagement and battle. Her CPAC speech (watch it below) was about this. I honestly don’t know if this kind of conservatism can ever take root in America, but I deeply hope so. It has a better chance in Europe — and, as I’m reading right now Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe, and learning in much greater detail how the European establishment — left wing and right wing — sold out their civilization to mass immigration for the sake of global capitalism and “diversity,” I believe that that Establishment deserves to be smashed. The new French conservatism, and its political frères in the former Eastern Europe, represent the best hope Europe has to avoid real fascism. EU-style technocratic, deracinated liberalism is dying, and deserves to die.

UPDATE: Well, this from a conservative French Catholic reader is discouraging. I had forgotten that Marion abandoned her husband. And I did not know the Maurras/Mauriac distinction with the Limite movement. I would appreciate further explanation and discussion by French readers about these things:

I don’t share your enthusiasm for Marion Maréchal, however. Her conception of the “French identity” indeed is based on religion but above all on race, which has always been – and hopefully will remain – a notion foreign to French culture. Also she is a hypocrite, having divorced her husband and father of her daughter after a few years of marriage to live “sinfully” with a National Front cabinet member. That’s not the behaviour you’d expect from a faith-on-her-sleeve Catholic.

I’m also distrustful of the Limite movement, though it’s home to some remarkable people. Their Catholicity owes more to Maurras than Mauriac. I agree with them that secularism is a poison but we shall overcome by being better, not by conforming to the enemy’s clichés. Unlike them, I feel a stronger connection to my conservative, modest Muslim neighbour than my progressive, secular and Charlie-loving fellow-compatriots, and those I feel threaten most my way of life and values are not those they think.

UPDATE.2: From reader Robert_C:

As a young French Catholic I can say: great article! Both yours and Lilla’s. A few points:

– “A large majority of the French support same-sex marriage.” This was false at the time of the debates. As the debates progressed a small majority became in favour, but I am pretty sure that if there had been a referendum they would have lost (because unlike in the US, most people in favour of same sex marriage here don’t really care about it that much – those against it were passionate.)

–”That mélange may sound odd to our ears, but it is far more consistent than the positionsof contemporary American conservatives.” Yes !

– “Most of these young French conservatives’ arguments presume this organic conception [of society].” Very sharp point and very true – as well as very needed. It also seems like this conception is simply true. The modern atomised individual is an abstraction, and I think that most of its proponents used to understand that at least intuitively. Not anymore.

A final comment on your reader’s response. I agree with him to a limited extent on Marion Marechal, but she also does have a courage which is inspiring. Even though she does not live up to the ideas she is defending, she *is* giving them a vital presence in the public square. Nevertheless, I would not vote for her. Though I fully disagree with your reader on the Limite crowd. Though some of them are from reactionary backgrounds, they do not owe much to Maurras. There *is* a movement of Maurrassian young Catholics and it is getting stronger, but they lack the seriousness of the Limite crowd. In my view, the Maurrassians are mostly young reactionaries who want to have a thrill while affirming their identity. Arguing with them is almost impossible. On the contrary, the Limite crowd are hungry for all good ideas they can find, and they are very open to debate from all sides. I think they have the right attitude.

Maybe once this movement matures you can be a bridge between them and American conservatism. Post-Trump, once it has crashed and burned, it is going to need new and serious ideas to rebuild. Maybe France can be the laboratory for them.