A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.

Status Of National Church At Stake

Published October 11, 2012

The church and state have had a “long and happy relationship”, says Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, and that the church should be constitutionally protected.
Article 62 of the current constitution states “The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State. This may be amended by law.” These two sentences are now the subject of much debate, as Icelanders prepare to vote for some changes to their constitution on October 20.
On that day, Icelanders will vote Yes or No to six different questions regarding the new constitution. One of these questions asks simply, “Do you want the new constitution to have an article on the national church?” Such an article in place, depending on its contents, could continue the constitutional protection that the Church of Iceland currently enjoys, as a national church which receives funding in part from tax revenues. Without such an article, the concept of a national church itself would cease to exist.
The question has been a contentious one in Iceland, although the tide appears to be turning towards separation – in 2010, 73% of Icelanders said they favoured separation of church and state.
RÚV now reports that the debate is still ongoing. At last night’s meeting of the Constitutional Society, a group formed in 2010 to support the drafting of a new Constitution to be put to a referendum, numerous Icelanders voiced their concerns both for and against a national church article being in the new constitution. Software specialist Valgarður Guðjónsson said that he believes the article should be removed, as the national church is “built on this article”, and that there is no need for the church to be a government office receiving billions of krónur in public support.
Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir disagreed. She argued rather that “The church and state have had a long and happy relationship. In addition, the Christian faith has shaped our thinking, ethics and traditions. This is why I believe [the article] is very important.”



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The lava field created by the Holuhraun eruption is now 44.5 square kilometres, reports RÚV. By comparison, Lake Mývatn is 37 km2. Seismic activity continues to be strong with as many as 60 earthquakes reported in the Bárðarbunga area on Saturday. The largest earthquake reported yesterday had a magnitude of 5.2 and the subsidence of Bárðarbunga caldera continues. Since September 12, the caldera has subsided by 7 metres and the subsidence has now reached the caldera’s half-way point. Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management services have closed roads in the Northeast, north of Dyngjufall as well as some roads out

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