Bishop of Iceland Reacts Harshly to Missionary Ban Skip to content

Bishop of Iceland Reacts Harshly to Missionary Ban

Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson criticized the proposals of Reykjavík City’s human rights council to bar missionaries from schools and limit the access of religious associations.

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Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The bishop called the proposals animosity towards the National Church in his sermon in Hallgrímskirkja yesterday, Fréttabladid reports.

If the proposals are carried through, they will contribute to ignorance, prejudice and spiritual poverty, the bishop stated.

“It can clearly be seen in the draft of the human right council’s resolution that the church’s participation in school work will be closed off, church visits prohibited and psalm singing and art creation with a religious purpose as well,” Sigurbjörnsson continued.

He claimed that the education and experience of the church’s employees are being undermined by proposals stating that instead of them, professionals are to be called for in cases of emergencies.

“It is a poorly disguised attack on the professional honor of priests and deacons,” Sigurbjörnsson commented in his sermon.

Margrét Sverrisdóttir, chair of Reykjavík City’s human rights council, said the bishop is overinterpreting the council’s suggestions, calling his reactions frenetic.

She said the purpose is not to attack the National Church. “I believe that this matter is, in most cases, based on misunderstanding and the discussions are all over the place.”

“We are limiting the practice of missionaries during school hours, of course the National Church will be affected,” she explained.

Sverrisdóttir said she doubts the proposals will tie the hands of Christianity teachers in elementary schools.

“I don’t see that the church has to be concerned because nothing is being changed. Psalm singing is not being banned and Christmas parties are not being abolished,” she stated.

Sverrisdóttir pointed out that it has been pending for a long time that clear regulations on missionairing at school hours had to be established, ever since a task force on the cooperation of schools and religious and humanitarian groups submitted a report on the issue three years ago. Nothing had been undertaken until now.

She also pointed out that the matter is still in its initial stages, the human rights council is waiting for reviews from councils of specialists and schools on the proposals. “They will have considerable weight.”

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