Dutch Quirk #63: Hate on the Netherlands’ bible belt

Most of us have heard of the American bible belt, but did you know that the Dutch have their very own? 🙏🏻

The bible belt in the Netherlands goes by different names: bijbelgordel, bijbelbelt, or refoband. The majority of the 400,000 residents are (you guessed it) Christian conservative Dutchies, that’s 2.5% of the population, which live in that area.

Quite a lot for such a small country, but those who are not from there, sure love to point out how vreemd (weird/different) it is. And, for the most part, not in a good way.

What is it?

First of all, what do we mean by the Dutch bible belt and who lives in it? In the Netherlands, it refers to an area with a large number of conservative Calvinist Christian.

For those living there, religion still plays a central part in their daily lives. ⛪️ For example, the majority of the votes for the Christian conservative parties CU (ChristenUnie) and SGP (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij) stem from this area.

It is called a ‘belt’ because, if you look at a map, you can see that the majority of conservative protestants in the Netherlands live in a strip of land that stretches from Zeeland in the South over the Veluwe to Kampen in the North.

Map of CU and SGP voters in the Netherlands, indicating the bible belt. Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

It is important to note that not all conservative protestants live in the bible belt (note the small speck of red in Flevoland, the city Urk), or follow religious teachings to the same degree.

Why do they do it?

But why does the Dutch bible belt have such a bad rep? Well, the bijbelbelt frequently makes the news because its inhabitants adhere to certain views which don’t sit well with the majority of liberal Nederlanders:

  • Against abortion
  • Against same-sex marriage
  • Against vaccinations

In 2017, a Dutch version of the Nashville Statement (Nashvilleverklaring) made headlines because it openly opposed gay marriage, non-monogamy, and transsexuality. The statement was originally from the United States but found widespread support across the Dutch bible belt.

In response, many non-religious Dutchies and municipalities hoisted the rainbow flag to support the LGBTQI+ community, reported the NOS. 🏳️‍🌈

During the pandemic, the bible belt made headlines because of low vaccination rates and failure to adhere to lockdown measures. The faith of many community members was so strong that they refused to miss their service and attended church regardless.

“No, we won’t get vaccinated, because we believe that the Lord provides for us,” says a man of the Dutch protestant community anonymously in this video. None of his seven children are vaccinated.

Even before, Dutch conservative protestant parents were criticised for not vaccinating their children for serious diseases such as polio, typhus or measles.

Why is it quirky? 

For a country as small as the Netherlands, it is sure interesting to see such drastically different beliefs colliding in one and the same country. This can be explained by the not very well-known phenomenon of Dutch pillarisation.

In the 19th century, to accommodate all the different worldviews and beliefs coming together in the Netherlands, social groups such as Catholics, conservative Calvinists (as in this case) or socialists started to develop their own social institutions separate from one another.

This made living together easier because it avoided overlap, but it also made it, well, separate. If you hear Dutchies talking negatively about the bible belt (which most of them do), it’s probably also in part of that.

It’s also quirky because it once again highlights the long arm of Calvinist tradition in the Netherlands, as well as the many ties between American and Dutch history.

Should you join in? 

Maybe don’t hate on members of the conservative Christian community in the Netherlands. Ideally, we opt for healthy debate and ✨mutual respect ✨.

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: fotografiecor/Depositphotos

Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara moved to the Netherlands at fifteen and she is here to stay! After all, there is so much to love about it, except maybe the bread (as every German will tell you). Next to finishing up her bachelor's degree in European politics (dry), Cara loves to do yoga, swim, and cook delicious veggie food.


  1. Knowledge of facts should be a requirements for posts.
    Urk is not in Friesland, but in Flevoland. Before that, it was in Overijssel.
    Many Bible Belt people support the SGP party, but few will support the ChristenUnie (CU). That the word Christen appears in a party’s name, does not mean that ultra-conservative Protestants will support it.

    • Dear Jan, thank you so much for your feedback. You’re absolutely right about the Friesland-Flevoland mixup and we fixed the article accordingly. Cheers! 🙂


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