As the president of Werkgroep Traditie and in name of all our members and Ásatrú-families in the Low Countries I offer you a warm welcome in Antwerp.
I would like to thank all the delegations that were willing to travel so far in order to be with us at the Congress here in the heart of Flanders.
I would also like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium for their financial support, the City of Antwerp as well as the various private sponsors from our Movement.
Before you stands a proud man. Proud since we have been given the opportunity to host the 8th World Congress of Ethnical Religions & Traditions here in our little country in Northern Europe. Proud since we sincerely believe in its aims and its value and in the role that it can play in the future. On the battlefield of religious imperialism the Congress offers an oasis of tolerance and a shelter for those who claim the simple right to coexist. A lone but powerful cry in the empty desert of universalism.
It is no coincidence that the theme of this Congress has become spiritualism & tradition in an anti-traditional world. For the western urge for total globalisation shows little or no respect for local traditions and values worldwide. Rather swiftly the world is changing into a village and we all are expected to become world-citizens. The American (western) dream of the world melting-pot is being imposed on each and everyone of us and little by little we feel what the Native Americans must have felt centuries ago when they were slowly robbed of their identity and cultural heritage. It may not happen again!
Looking at what western civilisation with its purely economical and anti-traditional ideals has become (and is becoming) and looking at the consequences of further industrialisation for the environment I cant help but feel a strong resentment.
But feeling resentment is one thing. Taking legal actions another. For the World Congress when it wants to become a player on the world chessboard the time of reacting has come. It is our aim at the end of this Congress to come to a set of clear and strong resolutions that are put in the right juridical language in order to be directed to the UNO, the European Parliamant as well as the local authorities worldwide.
We will carefully investigate the requested categories for the recognition of (indigenous) religions by the State. We will deal with the secularisation of society and its socio-economic ideology. We need to discuss religion and politics. Is separation of 'church' and 'state' a good situation or is there another solution? What can be done against further globalisation, against the disappearance of ethnicity, languages and cultures? We strongly need to reclaim religious rights for women. From a traditionalist point of view: what is the true function of women in religions. We must examine their important role in the extension of the religious practice.
And last but certainly not least we must deal with the aspect of reclaiming old religious sites. What can be done and what must be done?
Im convinced that together with your contributions we will come to an unanimity which will enable us to do what must be done.
I hope you all will have a pleasant stay in our country and I hope that at the end of the Congress we may reap the rewards of our efforts.
STEFAAN VAN DEN EYNDE
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