Far-Right TFP Funded Launch of Conservative Catholic Activist Group in Netherlands

TFP's crimson capes and banners bring pageantry to events like the 2016 March for Marriage (Photo: Peter Montgomery / Right Wing Watch)

In another example of cross-fertilization between right-wing movements in the Americas and Europe, Tradition, Family and Property helped fund and train activists in the Netherlands who created a group called Civitas Christiana, according to a report in the newspaper NRC published last week. A photo accompanying the NRC story shows Civitas Christiana chairman Hugo Bos and another activist sporting the bright red sashes that make TFP’s U.S. branch a visible presence at Religious Right conferences and public actions opposing marriage equality.

According to NRC’s Charlotte Bouwman, Bos has worked full-time for Civitas Christiana for five years, and his group now has 11 employees who wage culture war battles on three fronts:

Civitas Christiana has three main campaigns: Culture under Fire, aimed at the preservation of Dutch culture and Christian traditions, including Zwarte Piet; Family in Danger, against ‘the LGBT-plus propaganda and gender ideology’, and Stirezo, the Foundation for Law Without Distinction, founded in 1973, which opposes abortion. …

All campaigns of the foundation are counter-revolutionary, says Bos. “Our mission is to defend Christian civilization and we base our actions on God’s law and on natural law.”

TFP was founded in Brazil in 1960 by far-right Catholic activist Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira to fight for “the preservation of Christian Civilization” and “to combat the progressivist, socialist, and even community penetration in Catholic circles,” which he called “one of the scandals of the twentieth century.” It has affiliates and related groups around the world. NRC’s Bouwman reported that Bos visited Brazil several times to learn from TFP, which provided financial support to get Civitas Christiana going. And Bos got training in organizing, list-building and fundraising, “mainly in the U.S., via parent organization TFP.” The group says it now relies on local donations.

“The Netherlands is at war,” says Bos. “An ideological one.”  Bos says that the rising visibility of conservative Christians in the country is a response to the “attack on our culture” by Islam.  He warns that marriage equality will lead to the legalization of pedophilia.

That kind of rhetoric is familiar to followers of TFP in the United States. Back in 2008, TFP bought two-page spreads in national newspapers to publish a screed against “the homosexual revolution.” The ad declared, “This is a battle for the soul of America. The so-called Cultural War is gradually becoming a Religious War.” The group has also blamed homosexuality and same-sex marriage for several natural disasters.

Earlier this month an email from John Horvat, the vice president of TFP’s U.S. branch, complained about the celebration of Pride month and linked to a column calling gay pride “satanic.” Last year the group decried “the postmodern mania for diversity” and the acceptance of Islam in western societies, and it declared that “transgenderism” was “the family’s worst enemy.”

Horvat is the author of “Return to Order,” a critique of American culture and economics that promotes a return to what Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira called “an organic Christian society” inspired by medieval feudalism. TFP says its founder devoted his life “to the re-Christianizing of the temporal order along the ways of the Reign of Christ, to the Reign of Mary.”

TFP is a sponsor of this week’s Road to Majority conference, at which President Trump is scheduled to speak, and has also participated in other major right-wing gatherings including the Conservative Political Action Conference and Values Voter Summit.