The post-war reconstruction years of the 1940s and 1950s are generally referred to as the breakthrough of modernism in urban planning. The Netherlands in particular stands out internationally as a country, which transformed itself with plans and buildings conceived within the vanguard of a modernist vision. Examining the redevelopment of the Dutch city of Eindhoven, this paper suggests, however, that an alternative development of reconstruction planning emerged that ran parallel to the modernist planning project; one that displaced the authority and austerity measures of planned modernism. This development was very much influenced by the ‘pillarization’ of Dutch society, and the resulting tension between Catholic and Socialist parties, which had different ideas on town planning. By analysing the discourse of the ‘big city’ advisory committee, set up in the early 1950s by the North-Brabant regional authority to advise on the urban development of Eindhoven, this paper exposes the contested appropriation and use of modernist planning ideals and principles. Although the historiography on Dutch urban planning has minimized religion's role and presence in post-war reconstruction planning, it is being argued in this paper that it was an important theme, especially in areas like the predominantly Catholic province of Brabant.