Religion in Denmark

Yesterday I attended a lecture with this same title. It was organized by International Community and given by Assistant Professor, theologian, ph.d. Marie Vejrup Nielsen.

It was interesting to hear about the Danish approach to religion, which is… lets call it particular.

I come from a country which is traditionally Catholic (is this suposed to go with a capital C? I’m not sure), my family is Catholic (not practicant, though) and I knew little about other variants of Christianism, to be honest. I ended up falling in love with someone whose family belongs to the 2-3% of Danish people who are actual Christians. Me. A Biologist. In a family of Creationist. Hum!

Fortunately, Danes are very private about their religious views. According to Professor Vejrup, Danes HATE  discussing religion openly. They consider it to be a private and personal matter, not meant to be public. I guess that’s why they don’t usually go to church (unless it’s Christmas).

And the amount of people who don’t consider themselves religious, still belong to Folkekirken and pay taxes that go to it.  Why? Well, yesterday we talked about cultural Christians. Traditions play an extremely important role on the life of the Danes, and some traditions are linked to the church (baptism, confirmation…). In any case, churches keep trying to organize activities that will attract more and more people into their doors. So far, not very successfully.

Apart from being a very interesting lecture, it was also very educational. I learnt that -in an unrelated note- aparently no corpses (or ashes) can be outside a cementery in Denmark. It’s illegal. That means no keeping ashes of your loved ones in an urn at home and most of all, no spreading!!! How easy is to break the law in a country you don’t know, huh?

Back to religion, I like the fact (eventhough people says that state and religion should be two separate things) that the maximum authority in the Folkekirke is the parliament (or so I understood). So, if the parliament decides that gay couples can get married in the church, then they can. And it doesn’t matter what the priests say. Of course every parish can decide about a lot of little things freely, but the big stuff  is dealed with somewhere else. I love that. I love that there’s no Pope hypocritically  manipulating the lifes and thoughts of the followers believers. In my opinion, the Church shouldn’t have any kind of power. It’s had way too much power over the centuries. And I love that people can actually decide if they want to give money to the church or not.

The Catholic Church in Spain is receiving this year 159 million euros. The same as in 2011 and 2010. In a country with an unemployment rate of 24% , where they have cut the budgets of public health and education systems, where they’ve closed hospitals and overcrowded classrooms, because there’s no money and we are in a crisis… the church receives 159 million euros. Euros that come from taxes that people pay, without them having the chance of deciding where that money goes, or if they want it to go to the church. I think they’d rather have it going to hospitals and schools. I think they’d rather not have to pay double academic fees in universities next year. Or not having to wait months and months for a surgery.

Maybe it’s true that state and church should be separate things… but church needs to be controled by someone outside its walls. Again, my opinion.

I’m sorry, I’ve really deviated from the topic in hand but I’m a bit sensitive when it comes to imposing religion :P

On a funny note, about Danes, someone described them as sun-worshipers  and, eventhough it was of course a joke, I found it as hilarious as pertinent, given how crowded the parks were these last sunny days in Aarhus :D

 

By Natalia • May 4, 2012
Categories: , , , , ,


54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. Posted May 4, 2012 at 19:32 by Barbara Rowe | Permalink

    I found it odd when I lived with a host family in 1971 who did not attend church – – only the father did as he was the minister. In other words, it was just his job??

  2. Posted May 4, 2012 at 19:33 by Barbara Rowe | Permalink

    I should have said they were my host family in Jutland and I am American.

  3. Posted May 5, 2012 at 08:31 by Natalia | Permalink

    Wow, one would expect that maybe the family of the minister would attend church! Maybe yes, maybe it was just his job. I would have found it odd too, in that specific case :)
    Sometimes it seems like Danish like having churches going on and working and “communicating with God and keeping things cool” so to say, but don’t feel the need to be in them :P

  4. Posted May 5, 2012 at 18:09 by ib51 | Permalink

    I believe “catholic”, as an adjective, don’t need a capital letter, except if you talk about an individual who is catholic … but, maybe, we need the opinion of a linguist :-)

    I think we have to make a difference between religion as a component of the way of life of a society and religion as a private and individual belief. I’ve the feeling that, as Spanish or French society are marked by catholic philosophy, Danish society is marked by lutheran philosophy, regardless the individual belief of each Dane . Sure, religious belief, in Denmark stay private … and discreet. E. g. in southern country, a lot of people bear a less or more discreet cross collar, but it seems less common in Denmark. For Luther, Church was just a community in which nobody (Pope, priest …) was above others. Of course, some who had a best understanding, were allowed to explain the good way of thinking and, sometime, to lead the rest of the community. It’s an interesting issue, even for me who is an atheist and, more over, an agnostic . But, maybe, these issues about egalitarianism and community-mind are more ancient, tied to the Viking roots of Danes.

    About private aspect of the religion in Denmark, I’ve noted, since some years, an exception regarding Muslim. Some Danes, as DF and their fan base, can now say publicly “we don’t need Muslims”. Is it an epidermic reaction to the crisis or a deep move? I would believe in the first one. On the other hand, some Muslims make public their own belief by bearing some kind of clothes and I understand that it could shock some Danes … no easy to manage!

    About the split between Church and State it seems to be inevitable, regarding the last reaction of the Church about gay wedding. Some year ago, if I don’t do any mistake, Consort-Prince said that he was a partisan of the separation. Instead of you, I’m not sure that Church needs outside control from the whole civilian society but rather from the community of the believers … wide debate!

    Thanks again for your posts.

    B.J.

  5. Posted May 5, 2012 at 18:59 by Natalia | Permalink

    About gay wedding, I think around 1% of the priests have threatened to quit if it is finally approved. But hey, 1% is almost nothing isn’t it?

    In Spain, religious feelings vary a lot. Whereas in the center and south there’s still a strong catholic tradition, other big cities more to the north or east lack this feeling. There is a lot of immigration from South America, though, and they have also very strong religious beliefs.
    How is it about in France? Do they teach religion in school, for example? Because they do, in Spain.

    I guess Muslims live their religion in a way that is more public (for example with the women wearing the typical islamic veil), but I’ve seen very little Danes wearing any kind of religious jewelery, for example.

    It is a tough topic, but aren’t those always the most interesting ones? :D What I like about Danes is that they have this mix of Christianism and traditions that obviously come from old pagan rituals and they are happy about it :)

    Thanks again for your comments! :)

  6. Posted May 7, 2012 at 06:09 by ib51 | Permalink

    In France, since 1905, Church (hear catholic church) and State are clearly separated and, thus, there is no religious teaching in public school. France is a secular and republican State which respect and protect all kind of belief but stay neutral. Some private schools (mainly catholic) have a deal with state to teach both religious and classic education.
    I left secondary school a long time ago :-( and with Ida, we had no children, thus, I can’t talk about current school but, when I was young, I had never had any lesson about neither religious issue nor religion story.
    On the other hand, despite this separation, Public School have to give a free day in the week to pupils in order to attend religious teaching outside school.
    However, I believe that since 2002, Public School tackle religion issue but not as a specific issue, just in the way to show and explain the different philosophies which are present in France.
    B.J.

  7. Posted May 7, 2012 at 13:44 by Natalia | Permalink

    I went to a religious school up to highschool so I did have religion classes :P It wasn’t that bad, though. Then in high school I chose to study “Religions of the world”, which I found to be really interesting to be honest.
    I think it should be a personal choice. Kids should grow up religion-free so that one day they can decide if they have faith or not. In my opinion if kids are brought up in a very religious environment they can end up not knowing there’s an alternative.
    I wish Spain was a secular republic too!! ^^’

  8. Posted May 7, 2012 at 14:30 by ib51 | Permalink

    I’m not a specialist but I don’t think we choose to have faith, it’s something which is given us. But, indeed, we can choose our way of leading our life (honestly, I’m even not, sure of that) and having numerous choice can help us but, as you say, learning about several religion can, overall, help us to understand how and why people around us could have a different way of life … and, moreover, to respect them. I’m an old idealist :-)
    Of course, Spain is a secular country since Franco death. Spain has no State religion (as Denmark has :-)) but official reference to catholicism or christianity seems to still exist.
    B.J.

  9. Posted May 7, 2012 at 15:20 by Natalia | Permalink

    Maybe there’s no State religion on paper, but our taxes still pay for the church. And there, we have no choice. So I would rather have it like in Denmark and decide if I want to give money to it or not :P

    I find religions fascinating because it makes me think of how people thousands of years ago tried to explain what they couldn’t, or tried to find a way to cope with their fears. I don’t like to think what religion does to people today, because it makes me angry. It’s not something that people uses to find comfort but a tool for mass manipulation.

  10. Posted May 7, 2012 at 18:12 by ib51 | Permalink

    Yes, religions and all kind of philosophical issues are fascinating. But, don’t you exaggerate a little bit :-)? It’s Churches which use tools of mass manipulation. Religion (from religio, to link) could be heard as a tie between an individual and God (or gods or things to the Nature they don’t understand) or between an individual and other men and don’t involve necessary power relationships. But, you are right, the difference between Churches and Religions is not, sometime, easy to do. Surely, you remember K. Marx words “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed man, the core of a world without heart, as it is a the soul of a situation without spirituality. It’s the the opium of people” (sorry, the approximative translations but I only know the phrase in French) … wide debate!
    B.J.

  11. Posted May 7, 2012 at 18:18 by Natalia | Permalink

    You are absolutely right. Religion and church shouldn’t go necessarily linked, but in most cases they do. Everytime someone asks me about my personal position in this matter, I always say the same: I want to think there is something more that what we can see, and touch and measure, BUT any given religion (at least the ones I know something about) implies way too many things I disagree with, so I can’t say I belong.
    It’s very typical of mankind, if we think about it, to take something that could be good and exploit it for his own benefit. Or maybe I’m just a bit pessimistic about our species :P

  12. Posted May 8, 2012 at 14:05 by Jeff Bay-Andersen | Permalink

    This artical has explained to me why my father really didn’t discuss his faith. I was born and raised in America his family was directly from Denmark.

    Now my point…I completely disagree with anyone having control over any Church especially any government. Nothing is more corrupt then government. The church has abused its power that’s a fact. But ….the true christian church has done more good thaen any other group in the history of man. Denominations have it wrong. They cause more division. The freedom in knowing Christ is liberating and should be the biggest part of our lives. After all he is our Lord. For the non believer…accept our openess in expressing our faith as individualism. This is a oost from an Danish American Christian….wow that’s a mouthful … blessings

  13. Posted May 8, 2012 at 14:21 by Natalia | Permalink

    The ideal situation would be that every opinion was respected. I have my point of view and my beliefs, but I deeply respect other people’s religion as long as they don’t hurt anyone else.
    To be honest, I know people of strong faith and sometimes I wish I could be so absolutely sure of something, like they are. Because that brings them peace, and happiness. But that’s not how I am.
    The point is, I respect people who believe, but I want to enjoy the same privilege.

    About the Danes, I guess there’s people who has no problem talking about it. Also, when I talked about them hating discussing religion openly, I meant their own religious beliefs and not religion as a topic. Of course there is going to be exceptions, but again it wasn’t me who came with this idea on the first place, but they said it on the lecture I attended :)

    I agree that governments can be corrupt (although there is quite a lot of transparency here in Denmark), but I still think the Church should be under control/supervision of a group of people that the citizens have (more or less) chosen.
    In the case of the Catholic Church, there’s the Pope as a supreme authority and I don’t think any man (as holly as he might be) should be given that much power. But again, that’s only my opinion :)

  14. Posted May 8, 2012 at 14:22 by Natalia | Permalink

    And Jeff, thanks for your imput, and your blessings :)

  15. Posted May 8, 2012 at 17:25 by Albert | Permalink

    Tax payers in Spain can actually decide, when filling up their income tax return sheet, whether they want to give part of their taxes to the Church or social matters. In fact 0.7% from the taxes due, have to be given to one of these two authorities. That shows that modern Spain is a more or less secular state, where for ex. gay marriage is accepted.

  16. Posted May 8, 2012 at 17:41 by Natalia | Permalink

    That is true, actually. But they have to do that every time, don’t they? Here, you can just stop belonging to Folkekirken and not pay again, I think. And the money the government gives to the church every year in Spain, does it depend on the number of people who marks that spot?
    I really have no idea about it, but I doubt the Spaniards would want the church to get so many million euros when there’s a 25% unemployment :(

  17. Posted May 8, 2012 at 19:50 by Albert | Permalink

    It is not necessary to mark it every time, but only the first time. As churches are considered to be tax exempt organizations, they need money to “survive”, however it is also possible in Spain to withdraw from the Church. But apparently it takes some burocracy.
    Anyway the a/m 159 milions are just a very tiny little part of what the Church receives, as it is said that counting donations, properties, etc etc the estimate amount is about 10.000 milion Euro x year. Clear information is not available in Spain as this, among the Monarchy, the nations without state such as Catalonia and the Basque Country are still a taboo. I think Denmark has a very open and healthier way to discuss matters as there is a huge democratic tradition here.

  18. Posted May 8, 2012 at 20:02 by Natalia | Permalink

    Aw, my dear Catalonia. Dragged into the abyss of Spanish crisis :(
    The church thing is just nonsense. Today I read in the paper that there’s a town in Spain that is gonna start charging to churches the tax for removing the trash. They weren’t even paying that!
    This whole hypocresy of the church getting rich and people not having money for food drives me crazy.
    Spain needs more transparency, among other things.
    Noone knows where the money goes.

  19. Posted May 9, 2012 at 00:15 by Albert | Permalink

    Yes, my dear Catalonia too, ;-) sleepwalking into her own oblivion with such a load on her shulters called Spain, but thats another topic of discusdion…

  20. Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:43 by taj | Permalink

    i think relgion is only for peace and love but we use it for our comfortable we not use its send by god ,so we must love and peace adn cool relgions

  21. Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:54 by Sumit | Permalink

    Very fine blog. As an atheist (but at the same time a person always interested in learning about different religions) studying in denmark i thought that such a low number of danes going to church is because most of them are either atheist, agnostic or not ‘Christ Like’ . Now i know better. Cheers

  22. Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:57 by Natalia | Permalink

    Well, I still think there is a majority of Danes that are atheist but in any case we can’t interpret the fact of them not going to church as them being non-religous :)
    I’m glad I could help a bit!

  23. Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:06 by Eastern Orthodox | Permalink

    Unfortunately in Copenhagen there is only one true Eastern Orthodox Church. Protestantism is far far away from true Christianity.

  24. Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:08 by Natalia | Permalink

    I am sorry to say that I am very unaware of the differences between some churches and others :(
    In Aarhus, I think there’s only one Catholic Church, though… but of course I might be wrong :P

    What do you mean protestantism is far from true Christianity? In what way?

  25. Posted May 9, 2012 at 13:40 by ib51 | Permalink

    It’s strange, two people talked about “true christian church” and “true Christianity” … hearing this word in the XXI° century, in a kind of way, fear me. But, maybe, my poor English understanding could be incriminated.
    B.J.

  26. Posted May 9, 2012 at 13:43 by Natalia | Permalink

    I think they just meant that Danes are peculiar when it comes to religion. At least, that’s how I understood it.
    Nevertheless, I would love for someone to explain what is it that makes Christianity to be true or not. And I don’t mean that with any kind of connotation, I just really want to know :)

  27. Posted May 9, 2012 at 20:29 by ib51 | Permalink

    A religion have to be opposed to, at least, one other religion to be called “true religion”; alone, if there is no “false religion” in front of it, a religion is merely called “the religion” :-). In fact, I think that the “true religion” is this one we have faith in . But as there is a lot of religions, there is a lot of “true religions”. This opposition between true and false faith is something which is missing in oriental religions as Buddhism (here, religion heart as link between mankind and what is above our human condition and not necessary a god). I wonder if this notion of true religion is not something specific to monotheism. In the time of polytheism, the different religions tied to so many gods seemed to be compatible one with the others and, even, were able to absorb neighbouring beliefs … it was a good time :-) … but it didn’t exclude, at this time, wars :-(.
    B.J.

  28. Posted May 11, 2012 at 14:51 by Natalia | Permalink

    I guess people reffers to “true religion” in comparison with all the other religions in the world, which then automatically become “false religions”.
    That’s a bit disrespectful if you ask me, but of course all matters of faith tend to always be sort of black and white, don’t they?
    Catholics remind me a bit sometimes of the old polytheists, since they have all these different saints or virgins to whom people pray to ask for different things :P

  29. Posted May 11, 2012 at 16:19 by Anne Ehrenskjold | Permalink

    Hi Natalis

    Finally I’ve got my website done – just finished it. So far I haven’t written a blog, but soon…to day or tomorrow….

    Anne

  30. Posted May 11, 2012 at 16:30 by Natalia | Permalink

    Looks really nice! I love the layout! :D
    It’s now bookmarked, and I’m looking forward to reading something! :)

  31. Posted May 11, 2012 at 17:49 by Anne Ehrenskjold | Permalink

    muchos gracias:-)

    I’m mulling over your idea for my blog. Have a nice weekend.

  32. Posted May 18, 2012 at 14:31 by Natalia | Permalink

    Thank you for the reccomendation in your page! :D

    I liked the viking’s thing very much (oh, I love Bublé <3). It's just too bad that posts can't be commented on (can they?)

  33. Posted July 15, 2012 at 15:21 by sp | Permalink

    Your statements are not accurate. Tax payers in Spain voluntarily decide to give part of their income taxes to the Catholic Church. If they do not want to, they can choose NGOs instead. Other Government help to the Catholic Church is for maintaining the vast number of churches and monuments. These monuments are patrimony of the country and help to foster the tourism (the main Spaniard industry). About the unemployment rate of 24% and the 159 million euro, once the benefit is exhausted, Charity organizations of the Catholic Church help the unemployed people. More are more unemployed Spaniards have to resort to Caritas (a Catholic Church organization) for surviving. So please do not try to give the impression that the Spaniard Government wastes money with the Catholic Church, without its social labor many people would starve. All meal centers are open to see, so next time visiting Spain please take a look, I am sure you will change your opinion.

    p.s.: about charging for removing trash, I inform you that social institutions such as political parties, trade unions, sport clubs… are exempt.

  34. Posted July 15, 2012 at 16:40 by Natalia | Permalink

    I must admit that you are correct, tax payers can decide not to give money to the church, though not many people do (I honestly think a lot of people don’t know they can do that). Nevertheless, the amount of 159 million euros still seems too much.
    About Caritas, I can’t help but say that I know of struggling families that have needed them and haven’t got much help, because a lot of these help organizations are targeted to the “most vulnerable social groups” which usually include immigrant families, very often residing illegally in the country and who, of course, have never paid taxes. But I guess I am biased (because of these particular cases I know of).

    The vision of the Spanish government “wasting” money or investing it wrongly (and cutting budgets where it shouldn’t cut them) is my opinion (although I know for a fact it’s shared by a lot of other people) and it is not meant to offend anyone’s faith. I just believe the educational or health system should have gotten part of that money since they are, again in my opinion, a priority.

  35. Posted July 15, 2012 at 17:47 by sp | Permalink

    It is well known in Spain that if you do not want to, you can refuse to give money to the Catholic Church. There have been campaigns with TV advertisements.

    It is arbitrary to say that 159 million Euros still seems too much. How do you measure if 159 million Euros is too much or too less? Trade unions get 500 million Euro, is that too much or too less? The main employers’ organization gets another 500 million Euro, is that too much or too less? It depends on the results for the community.

    It seems that you have been abroad for a while and you no longer know the new Spaniard reality. The days of only poor immigrants going to Caritas are all gone. Nowadays families that used to pertain to the middle class are the new regulars for Caritas (by the way, in my opinion, illegal immigrant families should not be left aside for not having paid taxes)

    Education and health should be the top priority, but if you mean that reducing the budget for the Catholic Church will help to improve the situation, you are just wrong. Catholic Church rules many schools (many of them for poor people, my nephew speaks a little of Arab because of so many immigrants in her classroom). Even more, you said that you went to a Catholic school and you seem to be very well educated. Many important universities in Spain are also ruled by Catholic institutions. There are also many nuns taking care of sick people and I remember during the 80s only nuns willing to take cared of aids patients.

    All institutions ruled by Catholic Church are open to see, I invite you to witness the social labor of the Catholic Church. I am sure that you will feel that every penny is well spent.

  36. Posted July 15, 2012 at 18:07 by Natalia | Permalink

    I guess I am unaware of all the things the Church does. I have to give credit of my education to my parents, apart from my school (which my parents paid, by the way, it wasn’t a public school), but yeah, I am well educated, thanks :P

    I don’t like getting into the “illegal immigrant right’s” discussion, because although I agree that those families should be helped too, I believe that Spanish families should have some sort of priority. They’ve been paying taxes their whole lives and it’s nonsense that they’re put on second place and denied help because “they have family and friends here and immigrants don’t” (that’s the argument I’ve heard the most).
    I know it sounds selfish but I am an immigrant and everything I have achieved here I have had to work for, noone has given me anything for free.

    I just used the Catholic Church as an example (probably not the best one) of how the current government is cutting budgets where it shouldn’t. There’s many other places where they could save money where the effects on society wouldn’t be as devastating.

    I’m sorry that my non-religiousness stops me from seeing the social labor of the Church (although with all the gold in the Vatican, a lot of people in the world could be fed and saved and isn’t that what religion is all about? helping the ones in need? :P)

  37. Posted July 15, 2012 at 18:31 by sp | Permalink

    Just a last comment,

    > although with all the gold in the Vatican, a lot of people in the world could be fed and saved and isn’t that what religion is all about? helping the ones in need? :P )

    Yes, it seems to be a good idea. Should the Catholic Church put the Vatican on sale? Would you like to buy a church? Maybe an American investor could buy the Sistine Chapel and take it to Texas. Would you sell the church of your hometown or will you preserve it for the next generations to admire it?

    C’mon be serious most of the goods pertaining to the Church are not available for sale. Just as, no matter how hard things are in Spain, the Spaniard Government will not sell all the treasures of the Museo the Prado.

    All the gold in the Vatican is there to be admired, it may seems contradictory the sumptuousness with the message of humbleness of the Gospel, yes of course, but we must judge the circumstances according the historical moment and not according to our present moment.

    I will be an immigrant soon to Denmark and I also have a scientific background.

  38. Posted July 15, 2012 at 18:40 by Natalia | Permalink

    I wasn’t implying it can be sold, and it was a rethorical question, but I understand how some people might not find that funny.
    I was simply stating, as you mentioned, the contradictions in the image of the Church and the message they preach.

    And answering to your question, I would definetely sell the church in my hometown if that would help the families in town not to starve or be able to put their kids through school. It’s a building, after all.

    Best of luck moving to Denmark, fellow scientist :)

  39. Posted July 23, 2012 at 13:16 by Joe | Permalink

    Dear Natalia,
    Thank you for writing these things. It is sad to read what you think to have discovered and it is sad to see people finding their answers in what you wrote.
    Jeff Bay-Andersen made an important point there about “the true christian church”. Now it is exactly on that that people start to react, because they would claim their church/denomination to be true or claim certain denomination far from it. Again, Jeff already answered that: the answer is not again in naming and shaming your/another denomination. The Bible is the best reference to find what the true church is and a congregation should seek its purpose and lifestyle from there.
    May I shortly react on your point that you love it that the government can overrule a church on certain as you call it ‘big stuff’.
    Firstly your “And it doesn’t matter what the priests say.” Well, a Christian would say that God overrules everything, so whatever the priest, parlementarian, president,… and democratic vote says does not matter. A church can therefore not give its blessing over something God does not want.

  40. Posted July 23, 2012 at 14:28 by Natalia | Permalink

    Dear Joe,

    so many interesting comments came out of this discussion. I must admit I haven’t heard of Jeff Bay-Andersen, but I will read about him as soon as I have some time. I have to point out, though, that you defined the Bible as the best reference to find what the true church is, and I must ask: Why the Bible? Why not the Coran? Or the Buddhist texts? :)

    I understand that for a Christian God overrules everything, but again I need to disagree, since in my opinion “what God wants” is open to personal interpretation. Without any intention to offend, but I cannot imagine a God (the way my grandmother used to tell me he is) that would want to stop two people from loving and unite eachother just because they’re of the same sex (for example). But again, I could easily be wrong :)

  41. Posted August 9, 2012 at 03:31 by Eric Palhof | Permalink

    Many of the comments presented were focused on the wealth of the churches and critical of them for not serving people. In America, we have traditionally relied on churches to do most of the social welfare up to the last century. They played an important role in serving and building institutions of learning and teaching generosity to others. They were the only framework of society that people could count on. Over time governments have gained control of what people are to believe through taxation and amendments to the laws and constitution. Governments restrict citizens through regulations and enforcement. In our constitution it strictly states that we have rights to believe in what we want to without government intrusion even if others do not agree. Once a government commands it’s citizens to do things against their conscience and enforces its will through police is when you no longer are free. It happened next door to Denmark over a half a century ago and Yugoslavia 30 years ago. It can easily happen again as history repeats itself because people become complacent in their freedom without responsibility and seed those responsibilities to governments. When governments and media persecute religious views is what brought us the holocaust. I think we need is a more self regulating society where there is limited government as we used to have where people were instilled with a sense responsibility. You just can’t allow governments too much control as they fall into dictatorships as we see around the world now.

  42. Posted August 10, 2012 at 18:55 by Natalia | Permalink

    I’m very much in agreement with you here, Eric. Freedom is crucial. People has the right to believe and worship whatever they want (as long as they don’t violate someone else’s rights, therefore no goat slaughtering and all). My opinion is, though, that Churches should rely in people’s contributions and not necessarily get money from the public funds.
    I understand that the Church has an important role in many societies and countries, related to charity, and I really wish people was nice enough so that fewer rules could guarantee a peaceful coexistence.
    Coming from a country where people is now having their most basic rights violated (the right to peaceful demonstration, for example) I know what a bad government can result on, but unfortunately, laws and commands are still somewhat necessary. People are just not good enough not to have them.

  43. Posted August 19, 2012 at 14:28 by Sp | Permalink

    The right to peaceful demonstration is not violated in Spain. There are authorized demonstrations against the government every week as you can see in the news. I do not know which other rights are being violated.

  44. Posted August 19, 2012 at 15:08 by Natalia | Permalink

    I know a lot of people who have been assaulted by the police (Mossos d’Esquadra) when peacefully demonstrating on the streets of Barcelona. I know of a 8 year-old kid (children of some people I know) who was hit by a rubber ball for being on the streets.
    I have seen a lot of images of police brutality against all sorts of people (even old people). So, I think that right is being violated, from the moment in which people cannot think of demonstrating because they’re too scared of the consequences.
    I agree there is people who always turns peace into vandalism, but police brutality should also be prosecuted and it isn’t.
    Also, other rights as the one to decent housing is being overlooked when people are kicked out of their houses and the price of apartments is way out of the budget for most of the population (specially the unemployed sector).

  45. Posted August 19, 2012 at 16:09 by sp | Permalink

    As you say sometimes peaceful demonstrations turn violent, in most of the occasions sadly due to a small minority of participants. In those cases the police intervene and in many occasions, sadly, there are displays of brutality which should be avoided. This has happened in Barcelona and it also happened in Seattle, London and many big cities. Anyway, it cannot be said that the right to peaceful demonstration is being violated in Spain since there are peaceful demonstrations everywhere and every week (and most of the times with a lenient police surveying fortunately). The right to decent housing is a very complex problem. But it is not just now as you state, this problem has been present at last ten years with no government determined to solve it.

  46. Posted October 8, 2012 at 00:39 by Dave | Permalink

    Natalia, with this subject you are wrong. The Bible has long been known and respected to be the word of God, Inspired by God yet penned by man. That makes it the ultimate authority on earth. Think about it. This explains why this book has survived all these thousands of years despite empires trying to destroy it. Yet it is the most popular book worldwide. No State should dictate religion and if it does that “religion” is not to be taken seriously because it is really “State”.. This explains why most Danes scoff at the talk of God. This though was not always the case. Go look at the Round Tower in Copenhagen. At one time Denmark believed in God they even put God’s Tetragrammeton (name) on the tower. Even some of their old churches have Gods name on their walls. Yet now those religions silenced the use of that name in english “Jehovah” that is what the Tetragrameton represents. The society you see now has been corrupted to a godless one.

  47. Posted October 8, 2012 at 13:25 by Natalia | Permalink

    I deeply respect your opinion, Dave, and therefore I would like you to respect mine :) I don’t think you can say that the Bible has been known to be the word of God. In my opinion, it is believed to be, by some people (not even a majority of people). I think it’s important that this difference is made. You claim that the Bible is the ultimate authority on Earth, but what about all the people who are not Christians? Should we also impose the Bible as their authority? Are they wrong and ignorant because they don’t share your belief system?
    The Bible is not even the most ancient book/scripture found so it’s survival is not exceptional.
    About the Round Tower in Copenhagen, you’re right. Maybe at one time Denmark believed in God, but at another time they also believed in Thor, Odin, Freja or Loki. Vikings were pagans.
    I can understand how you think the State shouldn’t dictate religion, but saying that society has been corrupted to a godless one is taking things a bit to far, I think. I don’t think a godless society is corrupt or morally inferior to a religious one, in fact more like the opposite. We all know how many atrocities have been committed (and still are) in the name of God (one God or another).

    I approved your comment because all opinions expressed respectfully are totally welcome, and I sincerely hope I am not offending you in any way. I just explained my position as you did yours :)

  48. Posted October 8, 2012 at 20:21 by Dave | Permalink

    You make some valid points Natalia. Of course it comes across a bit hard to take for people to accept that their can be only one true authority or channel God would use on this earth. Their will always be people to argue to the contrary because all people do not want to be thought of as wrong. Trends are not a gauge that deciphers what is true and what is false they are merely fads. The Bible has stood the test of time and still is doing so. The difference with the Bible is that it is scientifically accurate, as well as prophetically accurate, this cannot be said of the other books you say are equal to it. Not everyone who says they represent the Bible necessarily is representative of the Bible. The things they do may be totally contrary to what the Bible promotes.

    I have no problem hearing other viewpoints as long as they are not prejudiced and as long as they do not distort the facts.

    The Irony is the Bible reveals that God Himself will soon make himself know and his true identity will be known to all. Yet also his wrath will as well. Some will survive it others will not and all mankind will be subjected to HIS rules there will be no arguing or wrangling. No one will be allowed to worship any old way they like nor choose not to. The world will be filled with only true worshipers of the only one true God.

    Does that sound confining? Restrictive? Maybe to you it does.. It sounds too decisive, but that is the right of the Creator to do this he makes the rules. We just happen to live in a time where he allows people to make their own choices that does not mean their are not wrong choices.

  49. Posted December 11, 2012 at 12:10 by Bárbara B | Permalink

    Me parece muy curioso lo de que sea ilegal esparcir las cenizas

  50. Posted February 12, 2013 at 02:43 by Eric Palhof | Permalink

    When dealing with beliefs, we need to recognize that everyone believes in something. Even atheist, like Stephen Hawkins, marvel at the natural world and must reconcile how it all came to pass. The debate over how life began is based on a theory by scientist that attempt to say it is fact when it is one theory. Science brought about the concept of “Theory” so it must also acknowledge other interpretations on how the Universe was formed. The Bible and other world religious scriptures claim to being the word of God or absolute Truth and can be validated by science if we have an open mind. It is unfortunate that there is this divide between science and religion as I believe science is a divine observation of God’s creation. I do not believe Creationism is complete in it’s theory because it simplifies the stories in a literal interpretation but Alfred Russell Wallace came forth with the theory of Intelligent Design as he worked with Darwin and noticed certain programming going on in living things. SInce there are all these theories floating around along with the various beliefs, I think it would bring peace on Earth if we were able to bring scientist and religious scholars into the same room. Beliefs guide us in how we raise our families, how we treat others and the deeper meaning of love. Science can analyze it but it can never make a seed and program it into a fruit bearing tree. Science my have a theory of how the Universe was formed but it cannot understand the causal being or force and it’s nature. We can use the science to help us understand the characteristics of the cause by using the empirical scientific method. There are positive negative fingerprints through out the creative process that lead us up the chain to atoms (protons and electrons), pistil and stamen, male and female and man and woman. If we look at it from a Buddhist perspective they not called it the Yin and Yang. There are complimentary parts to all things of creation. So when we look out in the way we view others, we need to understand that there is certain universal principles that underly both science and religion. Both are right but incomplete without the other. People of faith are not all terrorists and not responsible for all the evils of the world. There are many people in the world who misuse the teachings to manipulate the faithful but many times these operators are responsible for these acts cannot uphold the tenants of the faith. Instead of squashing religious beliefs, we would be better off if we learned to respect them and appreciate all the truths they bring to the table. Same with scientists. Lenin and Stalin promoted a thought based on atheism and science alone and they terrorized the entire world. That is why good people need to bring science and religion together and find the common thread of truth throughout these theories. In that context of openness, religion can be taught in schools because it would not be viewed differently then it is in today’s polarized climate.

  51. Posted February 12, 2013 at 18:36 by Natalia | Permalink

    Wow! Very interesting comment, I must say!
    I find it very unlikely that anyone will be able to bring scientists and religious scholars together. Correct me if I am wrong, but whereas scientists might keep an open mind about things and understand that not everything is (at this point) understandable, religion is mostly dogmatic. Things are the way they are written, and that’s it. Don’t you dare doubt it or you’ll burn in hell for eternity. That’s my very personal view, at least.
    You said beliefs guide us on how to raise our families, how to treat others or the meaning of love. I don’t think that is necessarily related to religion. Plus science will also tell you that when you treat others the way you’d like to be treated, there’s more chance of reciprocation and therefore, of others being nice to you ;P

    Of course science doesn’t have all the answers today, but I don’t think religion has them either. Plus, in my opinion, one thing is talking about spirituality and another about religion. Religion implies too many things (in many cases, the idea that one’s religion is the only valid one) and I personally relate it to a lot of things I don’t like (a lot of intolerance, for example).

    So maybe we can agree to disagree, or perhaps we have different definitions for what religion is :)

  52. Posted February 13, 2013 at 19:20 by Eric Palhof | Permalink

    I was hoping to spark some discourse on this topic of Science and Religion as it tends to divide people. It shouldn’t. There is so much that can be learned from both. I do find fundamentalism is not reflective of the Bible and other religious texts and tends to alienate people but when I seriously look at the Bible and teachings such as Buddhism with openness and separate from the influence of fanatical idiots that misinterpret those teachings then I see where science and religion can enhance our understanding of the Cosmos instead of co-existing as polarized beliefs. To develop one’s spirituality, most people investigate teachings to find some answer to their fulfillment and in the US it is well documented that families who adhere to some faith do better in society and are less materialistic. Single parenting is very difficult and the kids of broken families have more anger and behavioral issues because they could care less about how science will help them when they need a loving family. Many people who are successful after surviving in inner city ghettos will be the first to testify that it was their faith in God that helped them the most. The government can never replace a living breathing parent’s love. It is the intangible elements of love that always brings people together. No doubt a conscientious person can be a generous as a religious person but the majority of non-profit institutions are based on religious principles. Those that want to ignore the validity of faith because they just don’t believe in a God are not fully understanding or appreciate the value it brings. One does not have to believe in God to see it helps those that do. Whether we like it or not, Religion is here to stay and it needs to be understood as it does evolve just like science. The reformation is a good example of that.

  53. Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:32 by Anatoly | Permalink

    “It was interesting to hear about the Danish approach to religion, which is… lets call it particular.”

    How funny. Religion not save.

  54. Posted May 14, 2014 at 02:00 by Emma | Permalink

    have a look, this danish pastor, he is philosopher, writer, composer and singer and a funny guy.
    caspar wenzel tornøe

    let me know your feedback!

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Home is Where Your Heart is

Natalia

Atypical Mediterranean married to a Viking and learning the “ways of the North” in beautiful Aarhus. Amateur photographer, fairytale believer, Biologist and closet sci-fi geek, among other things.