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View Diary: Heilbrigðiskerfið: Healthcare in Iceland (59 comments)

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  •  It was actually a compromise (13+ / 0-)

    The nation officially became Christian but people were allowed to continue practicing the old beliefs in private.  

    One of my coworkers' grandfather was a sorceror.  Apparently he ticked off another sorcerer by sending a ghost to haunt him for several generations and got one sent right back at him.  So my coworker apparently has a ghost following him around.

    That said, said coworker is an atheist and believes none of it.  A good number of people here are atheist or agnostic.  Even the most famous of the old beliefs, that of the álfur / huldufólk (elves / hidden people) is only solidly believed by about 10% of the population, and only about half of the population is "unsure".  

    While low-ley private beliefs have long persisted in various quarters, since the 1970s, there has been a revival of overt worship of the old gods by a group called Ásatrúarfélagið.  Only about 0,6% of Iceland are members of the church.  That said, there are probably at least  10 times that many who classify themselves as other forms of pagan.

    It's easy with the high levels of atheism and paganism to downplay the role of Christianity here, but by a large margin most people here are honestly Christian and their religion is an important part of their lives.  But it's a different form than you find in the US.  Some aspects come across as more conservative - for example, there's a state church (although 75% of people want to change that), our official national anthem is a hymn, Christmas and Easter candy have religious messages in them, etc.   On the other hand, it's the sort of culture where you'd make people very uncomfortable walking around with a "Jesus Loves You" shirt, you don't see Jesus fish hardly anywhere (don't think I've seen a single one) or anything equivalent to them, church attendance is extremely low, the country is arguably the most LGBT-friendly and sexually liberated on earth, etc.  In general, it's a very non-judgemental, personal form of Christianity here.  Christians here for the most part wear it in their hearts instead of on their sleeves.

    •  That's how I was raised... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rsie, Rei, Aunt Pat, Larsstephens

      Officially Lutheran (ELCA), baptized and confirmed as such, but my parents taught us that religion is not to be discussed in public - only at home or in church.  Because the minister lied to me during a confirmation class, I remain the only person I know who has read the Bible cover-to-cover (twice, in fact).  Later, after years of historical studies that included matriarchal religions and cultures that existed prior to patriarchal cultures and religions, I became an atheist.

      Modern discussions of religion in politics is a huge embarrassment to me, especially since we have a secular constitution.  I also deplore the fact that the Christian religions in America stick their hypocritical noses into the political affairs of this country and try to force politicians to pass laws reflecting their patriarchal religious beliefs.

      My primary upbringing was in a Scandinavian-American community of mostly Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes (and I have all three for ancestors, plus four others).  Records in their home countries were kept by the official state church (Lutheran), which they did in exchange for being supported financially to do things like upkeep and maintenance of churches, etc.  Those pages in church records are the source of information for all people doing genealogy research in those countries, so I'm intimately familiar with records that go back some three or four hundred years in all three countries and have copies of same.  Records include birth/baptism, confirmation, marriage, death/burial, in/out migrations to/from a parish.

      Just this year Norway voted not to have an official state church any longer.  I think the other two still do have Lutheran as their state religion.  All three countries have stately old churches, and Norway, in particular, has stave kirkes of historical importance that are protected, some of which were built almost a thousand years ago.

      Few people in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark take religion all that seriously.  It's there, but it's not over-emphasized the way certain sects in the US choose to do with metaphorically bashing everyone over the head with their beliefs that they want made into laws so they can impose their beliefs on others via the legal system and under the protection of 'free speech' and continuously inserting their religious beliefs into political discourse.

      Nothing would please me more than to have religion of all kinds de-emphasized and never spoken of in the same sentence as politics or the legal system.  It is unacceptable discourse in a country with a secular constitution meant for secular leaders.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 02:23:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sweden separated state and church (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina, NonnyO

        Sweden separated state and church a number of years ago, so only Denmark and Iceland remain.

        Here in Denmark the issue is contentious and somewhat interwowen with the nationalist/xeonophobic trend that has been evident in politics for the last couple of decades.

        The debate got a new dimension this year, though, as we finally got full marriage equality (the domestic parthership law here was the first in the world and even though marriage in name was the only thing left that was missing it had stayed shy of that). The left, which is now in government, maintained that as long as we have a state church is has to recognize marriage equality, and forced the church to come up with a same sex mariiage ritual.

        Now that made a few heads explode...

        The lutheran churches of Scandinavia are extremely big tents and will hold anything from a moderate mainstream to political and religious lunatics, but now a part of the right wing in the church want a separation too. And as the last bit of the civil registration was removed from church administration recently too, a separation seems to be moving along slowly. But when?

        •  It'll be interesting to see who gets it first, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO

          you or us.  The new constitution enables the parliament to put it up for a vote and then to a referrendum.  Even if the constitution doesn't pass, I expect to keep seeing the issue crop up because 3 in 4 people here want the church separated.

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