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Our God he is so firm a castle,
he may well preserve us,
he was our help in all our sorrow,
our protection in all our danger;
are the first lines of the famous. One must be careful not to take the hymn too literally, because if we, in Luther’s words, think of the Danish national church, the message comes to us with a reservation, which is whether the authorities require coronas, enforce strict restrictions or close services.
It is as if we have completely forgotten that the right to exercise one’s faith is enshrined in Article 67 of the Constitution“Citizens have the right to unite in society to worship God in a way that is consistent with their beliefs, provided that nothing is taught or done that is contrary to morality or public order.”
The right to worship one’s God has a special status in line with other constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and property rights.
It is only a few months ago that the Danish National Church was subject to strict corona restrictions, while 30,000 went to football match between FC Copenhagen and Brøndby. Now we are there again because the government has introduced requirements for coronapas at “services, masses, Friday prayers, weddings, christenings, funerals / funerals and similar religious acts,” as it is called. “If a corona passport cannot be presented, expulsion must take place,” the ministry writes with accompanying fine threats. Well, the rules are not that strict as long as there are under 200 participants.
The demands and restrictions touch on a core of the national church, namely whether the church can expel anyone at all and still be true to itself. The bishop of Viborg Diocese, Henrik Stubkjær, is in attendance Kristeligt Dagblad shocked that one can ask the church to “expel” churchgoers without coronapas, because “services are a free space where everyone can come without having to check membership, nationality or grade book”.
A parish priest on Samsø also rebels: “It is outrageous. And here they went and hoped that the folk church was the folk church. I have to promise that it will pull in the state church, “he writes Johannes Bartholdy Glenthøj in Kristeligt Dagblad.
The Danish National Church may – perhaps not – have recognized that the church as an institution is one of the biggest losers of the corona crisis. It should not be hidden behind talk of contagion and community spirit.
The most important role of the church is a bit like the media to be there, to come out. One can even say that the church concretely for the individual can be more important than the media in a time of worries, danger and grief.
Here the community failed the church during the last long closure, but the church also failed itself. Why should the surrounding society take the people’s church seriously if the church does not take itself seriously, but lets itself be shut down?
If the corona crisis had hit Denmark 50 years ago, where radio, television and newspapers could not be produced in home workplaces, but were created on typewriters, in typewriters and in large printing presses, the government with its corona restrictions would have closed the media in March 2020. The government was close to doing it anyway with DR and TV 2. The media have an independent responsibility for disseminating news in times of crisis.
The same applies to the Danish National Church. The church, like ordinary workplaces or football clubs, should not readily accept demands for corona passes or corona restrictions.
Can priests not themselves assess when, in the words of the Constitution, they disturb public order, if they as Jesus accepts the lepers – or just those with corona – under orderly conditions? You think so.
THOMAS BERNT HENRIKSEN
Source: www.berlingske.dk by www.berlingske.dk.
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