From Iceland — Justice Minister Wants to Re-Examine Automatic Religion Registration

Justice Minister Wants to Re-Examine Automatic Religion Registration

Published March 12, 2009

Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir wants to re-examine an Icelandic
law that automatically registers children to a religious denomination.
The Office of Equal Rights has contended that there is no practical reason why a newborn child should be automatically registered with any religious organization or church. In addition, they contend that the current law which automatically registers the child with the mother’s religious affiliation if the parents cannot reach an agreement is a breech of equal rights law.
“Although the equal rights perspective is very important,” said Árnadóttir in parliament, “the interests of the child should be the priority. Whether it’s in the best interests of a child to not be registered with a religion, although his mother and father are, is something that needs to be examined more closely.”
Iceland has a national religion – the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland – which is a part of the government, supported by taxes, and is under the administration of the Ministry of Justice (by its full name, the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastic Affairs). Separation of church and state is becoming more a part of the public dialogue, especially as budget cuts need to be made in the economic crisis.

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