Mere Anglicanism

Freedom of conscience clause eliminated by Church of Iceland

The Church of Iceland has scrapped its freedom of conscience clause, ending the right of clergy to refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages

The Church of Iceland has scrapped its freedom of conscience clause, ending the right of clergy to refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages. The resolution introduced by the Rev. Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir overturned a 2007 statement by the annual Church Council, the Kirkjuþing, that held the “freedom of clergy in these matters must be respected”. However Ms. Helgudóttir argued that it was now time“take things the whole way and place no limits on human rights.” The conflict between religious freedom and human rights must always be decided in favor of human rights, she argued. As state employees Church of Iceland clergy should not be allowed to place their conscience above the law. On 28 Oct 2015 the 29-member Kirkjuþing endorsed the resolution. It came after the Bishop of Iceland, the Rt. Rev. Agnes Sigurðardóttir (pictured) read a letter to the assembly she had written to the Minister for Home Affairs Ólöf Nordal, saying that she said their was no basis in Icelandic law for a minister to refuse to solemnize a same-sex wedding. In 2010 Iceland amended its marriage laws, making them gender neutral. In other business the assembly lamented the decline in church membership, reporting that only 73.6 per cent of the population were now registered with the state Lutheran church, compared to 84.6 per cent in 2005. A paper presented to the council prepared by Prof. Rúnar Vilhjálmsson attributed the decline to “an increase in secularism, rationality and scientific ideas that have, amongst other things, led to a decline of tradition and an increased emphasis on individual rights and freedom of choice, instead of togetherness based on religious grounds.” Last year Bishop Sigurðardóttir said she believed the decline in church attendance was due to the number of new immigrants and the exodus of young people out of Iceland. The council voted to spend 150 million ISK over the next five years to advertise the church to stem the decline.

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