Record numbers leave Church of Denmark after atheist adverts

Sep 10, 2016

By Matt Payton

Thousands of people have left the Church of Denmark following a nationwide advertising campaign by the country’s atheist society.

Between April and June, 10,000 people left the church – the highest number of registered withdrawals since 2007.

A campaign by the Danish Atheist Society is being held responsible for the number of leavers – double that recorded between January and March.


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11 comments on “Record numbers leave Church of Denmark after atheist adverts

  • It looks like the pitch was “the church is taking your money and not giving you anything in return. You might as well cut the cord.” It is like cancelling a gym membership you never use. These people may still believe in god.

    Germany also has a scheme for the government to collect tithes.

    In the USA the churches get privilege in the form of tax-free property, income, and secret books.

    This should be unconstitutional. Tax-freedom is surely the government promoting a religion. They are enjoying government services without paying for them.



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  • Roedy #1
    Sep 11, 2016 at 12:05 am

    You might as well cut the cord.” It is like cancelling a gym membership you never use. These people may still believe in god.

    Germany also has a scheme for the government to collect tithes.

    Of course Europe has political parties with open religious associations – such as The Christian Democrats.

    Having said that, there is no good reason why governments should be collecting tithes for churches in the modern age of direct debits and standing orders, which people use for subscriptions to other organisations!



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  • Christianity has little left to tempt people into the pews in most of Northern Europe. Even a pickled herring is more sexy than a Christian sermon. And then there’s the football, movies, rock music, soaps, and all the other more modern ‘opiates’.



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  • Meanwhile a slightly different battle is being fought in Scotland!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-37336340

    The Scottish government’s decision not to allow older pupils to opt themselves out of religious observance is facing a legal challenge.

    The Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) is seeking a judicial review of the policy.

    Earlier this year a United Nations committee called for a change to the guidelines in Scotland.

    The government said schools should discuss options with parents and children – particularly older pupils.

    It added that religious observance should be sensitive to individual beliefs – including those who have none.

    Compulsory attendance

    All school pupils in Scotland need parental permission to withdraw from religious activities like assemblies.

    But sixth form students in England and Wales, normally aged between 16 and 18, have the right to make their own decision about opting out.

    Gordon MacRae, the chief executive of the HSS, said: “Today in Scotland young people are trusted to get married, join the army and vote in elections and for the constitutional future of Scotland.

    “However, Scottish ministers still do not trust them to make their own decisions about attending religious observance or to give young people the same rights as those living in England and Wales.”

    Religious observance must take place in Scottish schools at least six times a year.

    In June, a report by the UN committee on the rights of the child highlighted the fact that children in Scotland are not able to legally withdraw from religious observance.

    It recommended that laws requiring compulsory attendance at religious worship are scrapped.

    Analysis by Jamie McIvor, BBC Scotland education correspondent
    The law may not have changed since 1980 – but the common practice in non-denominational schools has changed hugely.

    In the 1980s, it was still common for children in non-denominational schools to start the day with the Lord’s Prayer, sing hymns and attend a church service at the end of term.

    Today things are very different.

    The common practice is to hold what are, in effect, times for reflection – designed to be inclusive of children from all faiths and none. They do not take the form of worship.

    Schools will often have pastors representing all significant faith communities in their catchment areas.

    While, for example, the local Church of Scotland minister may be a well known figure in the school and may well talk about religious themes – for instance giving a Christian perspective on an issue – they cannot proselytise.

    The right of parents to withdraw their children from these activities is enshrined in law – but, of course, a child cannot make the decision to pull out.

    A few years back, the Church of Scotland considered the issue of formally turning religious observance into “times of reflection” – one reason for this was that some were concerned parents might withdraw their children because they misunderstood the nature of the events.



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  • Doesn’t this have more to do with withdrawing financial support from a state-sponsored religious institution than ceasing either religious observance or personal religious belief? I visited Denmark in 2004; I was Christian clergy at that time. My wife and I visited several churches around the country and attended Sunday services at one, in Copenhagen. My impression was that Danes, while not particularly religious in the sense of belief, value church in times of life transition, like marriage and death. And I felt that the state church kept the fundamentalist undergrowth down! As I understand and briefly experienced, the Danish state church has been – with a mild Lutheran flavor added – essentially a Humanist institution since the time of their great liberal theologian NFS Grundtvig.



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  • Thousands of people have left the Church of Denmark following a
    nationwide advertising campaign by the country’s atheist society.

    I wish a similar occurrence would happen in the US!



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  • @#5 – A few years back, the Church of Scotland considered the issue of formally turning religious observance into “times of reflection” – one reason for this was that some were concerned parents might withdraw their children because they misunderstood the nature of the events.

    The common practice is to hold what are, in effect, times for reflection – designed to be inclusive of children from all faiths and none.
    They do not take the form of worship.

    The faith-head politicians obviously thought that one through in designing this fudged collective activity! 🙂

    Muslims on prayer mats facing Mecca in one corner, Catholics crossing themselves in another, and atheists trying to reflect rationally the coming day in between!



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  • 11
    Pinball1970 says:

    “Thousands of people have left the Church of Denmark following a
    nationwide advertising campaign by the country’s atheist society.”

    @7 I wish a similar occurrence would happen in the US!

    Yes and Europe with Islam



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