Lou de Palingboer

Lou de Palingboer (February 19, 1898 - March 23, 1968) was the founder and figurehead of a new religious movement in the Netherlands.

Lou was born with the name Louwrens Voorthuijzen in Breezand. He had a strong religious interest from an early age, probably under the influence of his devout father. He chose the profession of fisherman. After a failed marriage he met the young woman Mien Wiertz and he began to believe under her influence that he must save the world from the devil. He received his name "de Palingboer", meaning literally the eel seller, from his temporary job as a seller of eels at the Dappermarkt (a certain market in Amsterdam) that he combined with proselytism to his customers.

Later the group bought a large house that they called the "White House", located in Muiderberg in the municipality Muiden in which they lived in a commune. His followers would deem him a God. For his own sake he denied that "Lou was God" (although, according to Harry Mulisch's Fodder for Psychologists, he claimed to be the author of the Bible), but agreed that "God was Lou." The ambiguity of this was sufficient that some members of his group rejected medicine in favor of his blessing as a cure for ailment. Around this time they began to be seen as a cult by Dutch society and Lou would be briefly imprisoned when a member died of preventable illness. Frequently tensions arose when a partner of a couple was not "in Lou" and the other one was. This resulted in a number of divorce cases in which Lou was summoned to testify in court which he disliked.

Lou moved to Agimont in the French speaking part of Belgium to avoid an order to testify for court for one of those divorce court cases.

After "the death of God" in Belgium, meaning his death, the movement seems to have dissipated but Wiertz who moved to Spain continues to have faith in him. It has a few other elderly believers left.

The group had never been particularly large but it attracted a significant attention in the Dutch media.


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