The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) granted a so-called internationalisation project entitled ‘European Bible Belts (EBB): understanding strong religion, social cohesion and cultural integration in Europe’, running from 2016 to 2019. The project is continuing informally, looking at possibilities for renewed financial support.


Main applicant was Prof. Dr. Fred van Lieburg, Faculty of Humanities, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

International partners were:

- Umeå University, Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. Partners: Prof. Dr. Daniel Lindmark and Dr. Stefan Gelfgren.

- University of Agder Department of Religion, Philosophy and History. Partners: Prof. Dr. Ingunn Breistein and Prof. Dr. Helje Kringlebotn Sødal.

- Universität Siegen, Fakultät der Evangelische Theologie. Partner: Prof. Dr. Veronika Albrecht-Birkner.

- Åbo Akademi University, Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology, Department of Church History. Partner: Dr. Jakob Dahlbacka.

- Aarhus University, School of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion. Partner: Dr. Marie Vejrup Nielsen.

International results

The project aimed to investigate various regions in Europa (in particular in the Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinvian countries) with remarkable concentrations of conservative Protestants. Conference have been organised in Kristiansand (2016), Umeå (2017), Amsterdam (2018), and Siegen (2019). One of the results is a volume to appear in Palgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges: Strong Religion and Mainstream Culture: Opposition, Negotiation, and Adaptation, edited by Stefan Gelfgren and Daniel Lindmark.

Several colleagues from Vrije Universiteit were involved in the interdisciplinary endeavour. Some articles were published as results of Dutch research:

- Anneke Pons-de Wit, Dick Houtman, John Exalto, Fred van Lieburg, Johan Roeland & Maarten Wisse, ‘Buildings and Bibles Between Profanization and Sacralization: Semiotic Ambivalence in the Protestant Dutch Bible Belt’, Material Religion 15 (2019) 1-26 (DOI: 10.1080/17432200.2018.1541696)

- John Exalto and Gerdien Bertram-Troost, ‘Strong Religion in a Secular Society: The Case of Orthodox Reformed Schools in The Netherlands’, Education Sciences 2019 (DOI: 10.3390/educsci9010028)

Dutch results

The Dutch participants in the network (affiliated with VUA, PThU/Amsterdam and KU Leuven) present themselves in the Dutch Bible Belt Network (founded in 2013). Co-operating with organisations in the field they organise meetings and prepare publications (Bible Belt Studies, Labarum Academic). On November 3, 2018, a conferene was devoted to the EBB-project under the titel ‘De Biblebelt Globaal?’ in co-operation with European wings of the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij and the ChristenUnie. The papers, added by Dutch translatons of foreign network partners, will be published in the Bible Belt Studies in 2021.

Special mention deserves the very successful exhibition ‘Bij ons in de Biblebelt’ in Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht from July 4 – September 22, 2019. Prof. Van Lieburg was advisor and other network members delivered lectures in the public programme. Most texts appeared in the book ‘Bij ons in de Biblebelt: Nalezing op de tentoonstelling in Museum Catharijneconvent’, edited by Tanja Kootte and Fred van Lieburg (2020).

U kunt de bundel ‘Bij ons in de Biblebelt’ bestellen door een e-mail met uw naam en adres te sturen naar én € 15,- per exemplaar over te maken naar IBAN NL47 INGB 0007 1653 40 t.n.v. Dutch Bible Belt Network te Gouda. U krijgt het dan franco thuisgestuurd.