Published August 29, 2012
Confidence in the national church is on the rise, but most Icelanders still distrust the institution.
As many will recall, the church found itself embroiled in scandal when Guðrún Ebba Ólafsdóttir, daughter of former bishop Ólafur Skúlason, spoke out in 2010 about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. After several other women came forward saying the same, an investigation was launched in 2011. Among the conclusions of the investigation was that previous Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson – at the time of the incident just a priest on the church council – hid the initial letter of complaint submitted by Guðrún Ebba, and in fact did not file it with the church office for a year and a half.
The scandal prompted hundreds of Icelanders to de-register from the church. While Karl did apologise, he did not resign, but rather opted to not run again for bishop, and called for early elections, which were held last June. Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir was voted into the office, becoming Iceland’s first female bishop.
RÚV now reports that according to the latest Gallup poll, more Icelanders are feeling they can better trust the institution again, but most of them still do not.
45% of Icelanders overall say they trust the national church, up from 19% the previous time the poll was taken. It is unknown if the change in bishops is the sole or even primary cause for the rise, but support for the church has not been this high since 2010.