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New Youth for Christ controversy

13 January 2009 – A wide majority of the de Baarsjes district council criticises Youth for Christ (YfC) sharply because it has violated an agreement by recruiting Christian youth workers for the district. As far as GroenLinks is concerned, there may be repercussions for District Mayor Arco Verburg (PvdA).

It turns out that YfC, which has recently been commissioned to provide youth work in de Baarsjes, emphasises the Christian nature of the organisation in vacancies on its own website. The organisation’s mission is to “bring youth into contact with Jesus Christ and teach them to live according to His intentions”, it says in four vacancies for functions in de Baarsjes.

The vacancies have by now been removed from the website. For two job openings, the deadline has expired.

Party leader Coos Hoeben of GroenLinks says that he has been approached by a youth worker from eastern Amsterdam, who was interested in a job in de Baarsjes but was put off by the vacancy text.

By the end of last year, District Mayor Verburg promised the council that religion would play no role in the selection of youth workers. The council had expressed concern that the YfC youth workers will not reflect the local population. Also, it questioned the values youth workers will propagate regarding issues such as homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia.

Party leader Martijn de Keizer of coalition party PvdA sharply criticises YfC. “As a result of the way in which they now recruit their staff, only youth workers with strict Christian values will respond. This is unacceptable. YfC must meet its commitments and it would be to its credit if it would repost the vacancies on a neutral website. The PvdA will ask the district administration for a clarification next week”.

Hoebe agrees that the issue must be remedied. In addition, he will raise the issue of District Mayor Verburg’s position next week. “I really hoped that we could close this file, but we can’t stand for this. Verburg is responsible for letting this happen”.

Other parties could not yet indicate whether the issue should have political repercussions. In November, all parties but the VVD supported a ‘motion of sadness’ criticising the District Mayor for hiring YfC.

More to follow. Photo: De Baarsjes District. Background: Moroccan youth to get Christian youth workers


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