Utrecht, Netherlands (ENI). Two regional church authorities in the Netherlands are reported to have decided to take no disciplinary action against a self-proclaimed atheist pastor, Klaas Hendrikse.
The decision of the authorities in the southern Dutch province of Zeeland was published in a letter to their congregations, the Protestant daily newspaper the Nederlands Dagblad reported on 24 March.
The church authorities said disciplinary proceedings against Hendrikse, who is a pastor of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, would be likely to lead to, 'a protracted discussion about the meanings of words that in the end will produce little clarity'. The letter also noted that people have debated the issue of 'God's existence' throughout time.
Hendrikse gained attention with his book published in November 2007, in which he said that it was not necessary to believe in God's existence in order to believe in 'God'. The Dutch title of the book translates as, 'Believing in a God who does not exist: manifesto of an atheist pastor'.
In his book, Hendrikse recounts how his conviction that God does not exist has become stronger over the years.
'The non-existence of God is for me not an obstacle but a precondition to believing in God. I am an atheist believer,' Hendrikse writes in the book. 'God is for me not a being but a word for what can happen between people. Someone says to you, for example, 'I will not abandon you', and then makes those words come true. It would be perfectly alright to call that [relationship] God.' "