One of the first images that people often have when thinking of the ‘peace sign’ is flower children gathering at Woodstock and peaceful protests during the 1960s. However, recent headlines have revealed that officials at a Christian school in the Netherlands deem the symbol as being Satanic, and have gone as far as to destroy $20,000 worth of literature because the peace sign had been incorporated into the design. What was the rationale behind wasting money and causing a stir – the motivating force behind the act may actually surprise you.
Advanced technology and the Internet not only empower those who seek knowledge, but can also add fuel to a controversial subject. Officials decided to conduct research on Google regarding the background information and different uses of the peace sign after parents voiced their concerns and complaints pertaining to a student project at the Pieter Zandt Protestant reformatory school in the Netherlands.
According to the Dutch daily newspaper, Trouw, the school has permitted their students to play a role in the creation and design of a ‘diary’ that features a calendar, tips, humor, and Bible scripture. This project had been a part of the strict school for years now, upholding a set of restrictions regarding the content and imagery allowed in the ‘diary.’ For instance, the literature would contain no items that are thought of as being related to wickedness or corruption, such as movie stars, pop music, fashion, and even cartoons.
This year’s cover design for the ‘diary’ featured one of the students, and she happened to be wearing a T-shirt with a peace sign. Some parents took offense to this, complaining that the symbol was inappropriate and had a connection to the ‘Antichrist.’ The school board chairman decided to take a look into the history of the symbol, and learned that there were some conservatives and fundamentalist Christians in the 1970s that claimed the peace sign was an anti-Christian symbol.
With increasing pressure and in an attempt to calm the parents who strongly felt that the symbol represented Satan, the school went about sending nearly $20,000 worth of the student-created literature to the shredder. A letter was sent to the parents of the 3,000 students attending the school, where the school board chairman requested that all of the diaries should be returned to the school so that they could be destroyed. Part of the letter read that “This is the Nero cross that stood in Roman times for the prosecution, torture and killing of Christians. Even this symbol in our time been associated with occultism.” School officials agreed that destroying the diaries was the ‘lesser of two evils’ despite the almost $20,000 price tag it would cost to replace the shredded literature.
Who Created the Peace Symbol, and Why?
The peace symbol that we know came to be in 1958 when British artist Gerald Holtom created a symbol to represent the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC). It was made by drawing a circle and placing three lines inside. The circle and line design represented the basic positions of two semaphore letters – the system of sending information at great lengths by using flags – a practice often seen when two ships communicated with one another from afar. A flag holder held flags in a certain position to create various letters, such as:
• The ‘N’ – A person holds a flag in each hand, pointing both toward the ground at a 45-degree angle.
• The ‘D’ – A person holds one flag straight down, and one straight up.
Holtom created lines to represent the ‘N’ and ‘D’ in “nuclear disarmament” as they corresponded to the flag positions. The public first saw the peace sign design at a DAC march on April 4, and the symbol was quickly embraced. The Brits later used the emblem for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and in the United States, it became a symbol for the peace movement. Surfing the Internet, you will learn of nefarious characters who have also altered the meaning of the ‘peace sign’ for their own personal agendas. Some say that the lines inside of the circle resemble the prongs of the Devil’s pitchfork. However, across the globe, the sign is mostly known for representing peace.