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  • 7 March 2013: Copenhagen atheists want burials in non-religious plots

The atheist association Ateistisk Selskab* has launched a petition to put pressure on Copenhagen City Council, with the next meeting taking place next summer, for it to provide the necessary funds to create a burial plot reserved for atheists in Vestre Kirkegård cemetery, the largest in the city. A plot of 6,000 square metres had already been allocated to them in 2008, but the project, unpopular with the political authorities, had failed due to lack of funding. Today, the ground is abandoned. The association emphasises that each year 6,500 inhabitants in Copenhagen leave the Church of Denmark and that less than 50% of newborns are registered in its records. It insists on respect for the diversity of beliefs. The cemetery already possesses a Jewish and a Muslim burial plot. Atheists want to be buried as they lived, i.e. free of religion.

*The largest association of non-believers in Denmark (1,100 members in August 2012). Founded in 2002, it is intended to be apolitical and is part of the “Atheist Alliance International” network.

For further information, see: The Copenhagen Post, 7 March 2013.

  • 2013 witnessed several debates connected to the implementation of same-sex marriage in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (Folkekirken). The law was implemented in June 2013. Before this, there were several discussions concerning both the issue of a marriage ritual for same-sex couples in the church, and the issue of the relationship between state and church regarding such changes. Denmark had previously a church ritual for the blessing of same-sex couples. The new law concerns a legally binding marriage ritual for same-sex couples, providing equal opportunities for same-sex couples and heterosexual couples. At the same time, a law was passed allowing pastors the right to refuse to perform the ritual.
  • In 2013-2014, a committee was appointed by the government and designated to work on a modernization of the structure of the church, including the relationship between church and state. This caused several debates concerning the relationship between church and state, which have primarily concerned the question of a national church council. The Danish national church does not have a synod or a national level of representation. The primary national level of the church is therefore the parliament and the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs. The debates have focused on pros and cons in establishing a separate church council.
  • In 2013, there was a great deal of focus on a Danish poet, Yahya Hassan, who writes poetry about his life as a child of Muslim immigrants of Palestinian background in Denmark. He became known for his harsh criticism of his childhood, which includes some remarks about Islam. They fuelled both public debate and some incidents, making Hassan’s book the best-selling work ever of poetry by a debutant in Denmark.

D 11 April 2013   

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