Dutch Protestants Object

to European Union Emblem

(Remnant News Watch for April 25, 2009)

Mark Alessio

A group of Protestant Christians in the Netherlands is objecting to the “emblem of the European Union being placed on car registration plates in their country, asserting that the symbol conflicts with their religious convictions,” reports Andreas Havinga of Ecumenical News International, EMI (Mar. 13, 2009):

The National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles states that the EU emblem – a circle of 12 golden stars on a blue background – symbolises the veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus, by the Roman Catholic Church.

"Most people don't think about it, but the EU symbol was thought up by a Roman Catholic in honour of Mary," P. H. op 't Hof, chairperson of the Reformed foundation, was quoted recently by the Nederlands Dagblad newspaper as saying. The newspaper reported that a court in the town of Leeuwarden had acknowledged that the issue concerns a matter of conscience.

Transport minister Camiel Eurlings has rejected the Protestant group’s request to have the EU emblem removed from the plates on the grounds that EU policy allows for the display of the symbol on license plates. Plates bearing the emblem have been issued since the year 2000. In response, the Reformed Foundation is selling adhesive stickers bearing the Dutch lion symbol, which can be placed over the EU emblem.

The Reformed Foundation is “a group of members of the Political Reformed Party (SGP), who judge the SGP to be insufficiently Calvinist. Founded in 1918, the SGP is the oldest political party in the Netherlands, and is known for its refusal to take part in any government Cabinet.”

Do the stars on the EU emblem symbolize the Virgin Mary, the Woman “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars,” as described by St. John in his Apocalypse? On December 7, 1999, Zenit reported that EU emblem designer Arsene Heitz was reading about the apparitions of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal while designing the emblem:

According to the artist, he thought of the 12 stars in a circle on a blue background, exactly the way it is represented in traditional iconography of this image of the Immaculate Conception. In the beginning, Heitz saw it as a flight of fancy, among the many that run through an artist's imagination; but the idea caught his attention, to the point that it became the subject of his meditation.

Others have tried to downplay this. Javier Paredes, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Alcala in Spain, told Zenit at the time that, although “in Heitz's soul the words of the Apocalypse were very present .... neither the stars nor the blue of the flag are particularly religious symbols, thus respecting the conscience of all Europeans, regardless of their beliefs." Toine Manders, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, commenting on the Reformed Foundation’s request to remove the EU emblem from license plates, said, “These 12 stars were already around in the period of Greek mythology, in other words long before Christianity.”

In pondering the National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles’ license-plate hysteria, one must wonder whether or not a staggering inability to make cogent historical connections has become a requisite for political activism these days. These John Calvin groupies are losing sleep over the fact that EU license plates feature 12 stars which could symbolize the Mother of God. Okay, then, let’s go back in time for some perspective.

On October 7, 1571, Catholic naval forces from Spain, Venice and Genoa triumphed over the invading Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto (off Greece in the Gulf of Patras). The outnumbered Catholic fleet (i.e., “The Holy League”), commanded by Don Juan of Austria, suffered 13,000 casualties, but managed to free approximately that number of Catholic slaves from the Ottoman ships. The Ottomans, under Ali Pasha, lost 25,000 men. The Battle of Lepanto is a crucial battle in Western history, for it prevented the Muslim invasion of Europe.

Knowing that the Holy League was outnumbered by the Turks, Pope St. Pius V called upon all Catholics to pray the Rosary for victory. One of the Holy League’s commanding admirals, Andrea Doria, took a copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with him into battle. In fact, it was the victory at Lepanto which gave rise to the liturgical feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary” (originally called “Our Lady of Victory”).

Moving on. In July of 1683, the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha and an army of 300,000 men reached Vienna and laid siege to the city, which was being defended by only 15,000 men. Fleeing from Austria, Emperor Leopold asked for the assistance of John Sobieski, one of Poland's great military heroes. The plea was seconded by the Papal Nuncio.

In August, Sobieski set out for Vienna. Battle was engaged before the walls of Vienna on September 12, 1683. After a minor setback, Sobieski finally stormed the enemy camp, routed the Turkish forces and saved the city ... and Europe. When Sobieski and his men had first set out for Vienna, his forces marched behind the banner of the Blessed Virgin. Passing by the Sanctuary of Mary in Czestochowa, they stopped to pray, imploring Our Lady's help and blessing.

This is history at its most glorious, and there is not a man, woman or child alive in Europe today who does not owe a serious debt of gratitude to the Catholic forces of Lepanto and Vienna. But, the clowns at the National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles are upset because the 12 stars on the EU “was thought up by a Roman Catholic in honour of Mary." If it were not for those courageous Catholics fighting under the standard of the Blessed Virgin, these “Reformed” politicos would be on their hands and knees five times a day praying towards Mecca! Apparently, simple gratitude is too much to expect from these people.

There’s irony here, too. The National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles is a Dutch outfit. Yes, Holland – the land where Theo van Gogh was butchered in the street like an animal for daring to criticize Islam. The land where, according to German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, unveiled Muslim women are the victims of smileys – i.e., “the girl gets one side of her face cut up from mouth to ear, serving as a warning to other Muslim girls who should refuse to wear the veil.” With a Muslim threat equal to that repelled at Lepanto and Vienna facing them, what do these historically-clueless “Reformed” neo-Calvinists get the heebie-jeebies about?

 License plates!



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