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Moroccan youth to get Christian youth workers

22 October 2008 - District de Baarsjes has awarded a four-year youth work contract to The Mall, an organisation connected to Youth for Christ. GroenLinks wants to know where the organisation stands on issues like homosexuality and whether non-Christians can still apply for a job as youth worker.

Party leader Coos Hoebe points to a Youth for Christ job opening for a youth worker in Alkmaar. The organisation says it is looking for an 'enthusiast Christian' and that its mission is to bring youth into contact with Jesus Christ and to teach them to live according to his intentions.

Hoebe says that excluding non-Christians from a job amounts to discrimination and that it would be unacceptable for such discrimination to play a role in the recruitment of youth workers for de Baarsjes. He also would like to know whether open homosexuals could apply.

Further, he says that many people in the Netherlands do not share Christian values on issues like homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia. He wants to know how Youth for Christ's values will affect the activities offered by the Mall.

The Mall is already offering youth activities in de Baarsjes on a small scale. In Hoebe's eyes, it makes a 'large difference' that the Mall has now been contracted to provide all youth work in the district, leaving youth with no other option but the evangelical youth work.

Moroccan youth make up a large share of the target group of youth work in de Baarsjes, but Hoebe says that for him, ethnic background is not an issue. "The important thing is that youth work should be neutral in terms of religion".

District chairman Arco Verburg announced the new contract in a press release, in which he does not mention the evangelical background of the Mall. He is enthusiastic about the organisation: "We're happy that the Mall will provide our youth work. This is an important investment in the youth of de Baarsjes".

The Mall is offering youth work in a growing number of cities, often in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Thanks to local government subsidies, which now amount to 1.2 million euro, the number of paid staff increased by 30% last year.

Using subsidies for religious activities is a sensitive issue. In July, a Youth for Christ spokesperson told newspaper Friesch Dagblad that because of the subsidies, the missionary aspect is 'more implicitly present' in its welfare work.

"In our welfare work, we are evangelising reactively. If youth ask about it, we tell them about the motivation we derive from our beliefs, but we don't organise any explicitly evangelical activities using subsidies".

Next Tuesday, the district council of de Baarsjes will discuss the youth work contract.

Photo: de Baarsjes

UPDATE 26 October 2008 - Het Parool reports that Youth for Christ has agreed not to hire exclusively Christians in de Baarsjes.


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