Denmark’s law may force preachers to submit sermons to Government

Denmark’s religious liberty and freedom of speech and expression are at risk, say the country’s Christian leaders.

They’re protesting about a proposed law requiring leaders of all faiths to translate their sermons into Danish and submit them to the government.

The new law, is primarily aimed at radical Islamic groups, but will affect all churches.

The country has more over 270,000 Muslims. Sermons in the mosques are generally preached in Arabic.

Denmark’s government says the law – which is scheduled to be reviewed this month at the Danish Parliament – is necessary to curb the growth of Islamic extremism.

Some commentators say although the measure is aimed at getting the preaching of jihad out of mosques, Europe’s political correctness means a broad, politically correct net is scooping up preachers of all religions.

Church of England Bishop Robert Innes (pictured) wrote a letter to Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen expressing his alarm over the measure.

It places an “overly restrictive” bind on freedom of expression, he wrote.

“I am sure it comes from a genuine concern about the security of the state and the monitoring of all religious minorities who might be perceived as a security risk.

“I share the ambition of the Danish government to ensure safety and security and the desire that all religious organizations in Denmark conduct their act peacefully, but to require translation of sermons into the national language goes too far.

“In a democratic society I would hope the government would strive for better cooperation with religious organizations than hastily resorting to legislation interfering with their freedoms.

“This is a first which is why it is so important we find a way to address and encourage the Danish government to find another solution. Because my real concern is that if the Danes do it other countries may copy,” he noted. “That would be a very worrying development indeed.”

Innes says incremental changes in the law are causing minority groups to be treated with increasing suspicion.

Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church have also written to the Danish government about the changes affecting religious liberty and freedom of speech, saying: “… we are risking that the Danish State neglects the recognition of non-Danish speaking congregations as being part of the ecclesiastical and cultural life of Denmark.

“It would cause great harm, should the many Danish congregations abroad face similar action from foreign states. Passing the bill would furthermore damage the reputation of Denmark in the rest of the world.”

An Anglican chaplain in Denmark says she is concerned about sending translated sermons to the government.

“Any sermon depends on Biblical text and context; the scripted and unscripted; the dynamic between preacher and congregation … in a translation, how would nuance, meaning and emphasis be carried?”

Other European churches voicing concerns about the proposed law include the Lutheran World Federation, the Roman Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and the Conference of European Churches.


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