Dutch Protestants: EU car number plates symbolise 'adoration of Mary'
But Ecumenical News International writes of a Protestant group in the Netherlands who are objecting to the EU’s 12 stars being placed on car registration plates, asserting that ‘the symbol conflicts with their religious convictions’.
Of course, one might expect an ecumenical news agency to be a little intolerant of an organisation called ‘The National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles’. In fact, Cranmer would be a little intolerant of having to declare himself a member of such an absurdly-named organisation. The foundation is a group of members of the Political Reformed Party (SGP), who judge the SGP to be ‘insufficiently Calvinist’.
A bit like the People’s Front of Judaea.
But this objection – on religious grounds – is not actually without merit in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights.
All challenges to this symbol in the UK have hitherto focused on the political symbolism, particularly when it appeared to be mandatory in the UK to display the EU emblem on car number plates while it was illegal to display the Union Flag, the Saltire, the Cross of St George, thistles, dragons, or lions and tigers and bears.
The religious objection is straightforward: The National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles is of the opinion 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’. The organisation’s chairman, P. H. op 't Hof (there’s a name) says: "Most people don't think about it” (he’s not wrong there), “But the EU symbol was thought up by a Roman Catholic in honour of Mary."
And so a court in the town of Leeuwarden has acknowledged that the issue concerns a matter of conscience.
Cranmer asks all of his intelligent, reasonable and discerning readers and communicants to observe the EU flag and this picture of Mary surrounded by a 12-star halo:
There is quite obviously no link whatsoever, and any similarities with regard to the number of stars or the colours scheme are purely coincidental.
But this Protestant group has written to Dutch transport minister Camiel Eurlings, requesting that the EU symbol be removed from their car number plates.
Mr Eurlings responded by saying that he saw no reason to do so since ‘it is European Union policy to have licence plates with the symbol’.
Well, that (to Cranmer) would seem like a very good reason to do so, but it is in any case a wholly inadequate response to Mr op 't Hof.
Ecumenical News International explains that the emblem and flag ‘were first used by another European body, the Council of Europe, before being adopted by the EU in 1985... In 1989, the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, reported the emblem's designer, Arsène Heitz, had described the source of his inspiration as a series of reported apparitions by the Virgin Mary in 19th-century Paris. The date on which the Council of Europe adopted the flag, 8 December 1955, coincided with the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary’.
But, notwithstanding the primary source testimony of the flag’s designer – that his inspiration had been the reference in Revelation to ‘a woman clothed with the sun...and a crown of twelve stars on her head’; and notwithstanding the historical account in l'Osservatore Romano concerning Marian apparitions, a Dutch MEP by the name of Toine Manders has rejected the group’s statement as ‘outrageous’. He says on his website: “These 12 stars were already around in the period of Greek mythology, in other words long before Christianity."
But there is absolutely no evidence that Greek mythology was the inspiration for this emblem. If it were, Cranmer thinks The National Foundation for the Preservation of the Political Reformed Principles might be on far stronger ground objecting to the imposition of these 12 stars on their number plates, for the Greeks were obsessed with matters of astrology and paganism which are condemned time and again by the Apostle Paul. Involvement in and corruption by either is expressly forbidden in Scripture.
But if the ‘woman clothed with the sun...and a crown of twelve stars on her head’ is indeed Mary, and if the United States of Europe is being forged beneath her blessed aegis – ‘Our Lady of Europa’ – someone ought to say a few more hails to her, for the beast that is emerging is not only pathologically anti-Christian; it is antithetical to everything she reputedly holds dear.