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‘Bible promotion through food bank’

13 December 2008 – The Dutch Bible Association (NBG) has announced that it will distribute 10,000 copies of its magazine Hemel (‘Heaven’), produced to promote the bible among non-religious people, through food banks. The publisher says that the magazine will be distributed by Amsterdam food banks as well.

The NBG recommends the one-off magazine as an aid to start conversations about the Bible, religion and the church with non-religious people. The organisation has already distributed copies of Hemel among the 16,000 residents of Asten, a municipality that may have lost one million euro in the Iceland bank failure.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive responses to the distribution in Asten. Encouraged by this, the NBG also wants to make a positive gesture to people living below the poverty line in the month of December”, Lydia van der Meer of the NBG said in a press release.

Food banks across the country will distribute the magazine along with food parcels. Publisher Xplore Groep BV assured that it will be distributed by food banks in Amsterdam as well. However, spokesperson Peter Boterman of Food Bank Amsterdam (VBA) said he is unaware of the initiative.

Boterman says that in general, VBA is hesitant to engage in activities other than the distribution of food (‘we’re not going to distribute TVs or clothes’). However, it does sometimes distribute unsold copies of general interest magazines if they are relevant to the target group. “We’re pragmatic about this, as we are about everything we do”.

Weblog GeenStijl sees the Hemel initiative as a sign of a more assertive attitude among Protestant groups. Other instances would include the announcement by anti-abortion group Schreeuw om leven (‘Cry for Life’) that it is going to distribute little plastic foetuses door-to-door, and protests by Christian groups against Pink Christmas, a gay event in Amsterdam.

The NBG spokesperson was unavailable for comment on Friday.

Image: Hemel launch party with showbiz journalist Wilma Nanninga (Photo NBG)

UPDATE 14 December – The food bank in Amsterdam Noord is definitely not going to distribute Hemel. Paul Scheerder, Director of the Gère Paulussen Leefkringhuis which runs the food bank in Noord, says in a response to the article above that he will not even think of putting the magazine in the food parcels. In Noord, 180 families use the food bank.


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