By: V4 Agency
Plans are afoot to bring churches under tight state control to curb the spread of Islam, a move viewed as disconcerting by the country’s congregations. Many religious leaders have criticised the draft bill, saying it is overly restrictive.
In a bid to curb the spread of radical Islam, the government has drafted a new bill, which would require churches to translate their sermons written in foreign languages and submit them for a government review. The bill will soon be debated in parliament.
This new type of control was deemed necessary by the Danish government to curb the growing influence of Islamist extremism, but the move was met with criticism. Some Christian churches worry that they may appear Islamophobic or politically incorrect. Robert Innes, the Church of England’s Bishop in Europe has sent a letter to Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen, expressing his concern that the bill would be an “overly restrictive” bind on freedom.
“I am sure it comes from a genuine concern about the security of the estate and the monitoring of all religious minorities who might be perceived as a security risk,” Innes told The Guardian, “but to require translation of sermons into the national language goes too far. It goes in a concerning anti-liberal direction.” He encouraged the Danish government to find another solution, and added that the proposal is also impractical as preachers do not always write full text of their sermons, they might write notes.
Several church leaders are opposed to the bill and have indicated as much to the government. According to the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Danish state fails to take into account that non-Danish-speaking congregations are also part of the religious and cultural life of the country.
Anna Mirijam Kaschne, Secretary General of the Northern Episcopal Conference, said every church would become a matter of general suspicion with the introduction of the bill, which she described as an undermining of democracy.
Denmark is also trying to introduce stricter measures against immigration. The prime minister recently spoke about how social cohesion in the country is jeapardised by the rapid influx of large numbers of immigrants, which is why efforts will be made to keep the number of asylum-seekers to a minimum.
According to PM Mette Frederiksen, few politicians do enough to really integrate migrants and they are not demanding enough of them. She also pointed out that immigrants must be able to provide for themselves and they must embrace Denmark’s national values.