Icelandic Culture: Exploring Religion in Iceland

We’re heading to Iceland Airwaves! Here’s a cultural preview story Andrew will explore while there. Follow Columbia students’ journey, which begins October 30, on the Iceland Airwaves 2013 blog.

Here in America, separation of church and state has always been a given.  To us, it really seems bizarre that the two would ever be intertwined.

In Iceland, however, the Lutheran church is sponsored by the state.  Priests act as civil servants on top of being spiritual advisers.  Evangelical Lutheranism is taught in public schools where most children are confirmed.

Although a majority of the population consider themselves Evangelical Lutherans, other faiths are represented on the island and the organization Siðmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, provides people secular alternatives to state-sponsored religious ceremonies.

This investigative story will explore views from many different perspectives around Iceland, weigh the pros and cons of this system, and assess public opinion around the issue of a state sponsored church.

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