In a mass preached at Hallgrímskirkja yesterday, Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson accused the Human Rights Committee of Reykjavík city council of inciting prejudice towards the National Church in particular and Christianity in general.
In response to numerous parent complaints of what they perceive as missionary work, the committee recently passed a measure banning church officials from working with playschools and primary schools. There had been reports of children being sent home with religious literature, and a recent poll conducted by MMR showed that 80% of public schools were taking children to church fairly regularly.
Preaching at mass yesterday, the bishop accused the committee of engaging in “prejudice and opposition to faith, especially Christianity,” RÚV reports.
Margrét Sverrisdóttir, chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, believes the bishop’s reaction was “extreme”. Speaking to Vísir, Margrét said that “All we have done is ban missionary work doing school time. I don’t see why the church needs to fear anything, as singing psalms and holding Christmas celebrations will still continue.” She added that there has long been a need for clearer rules about church work on school grounds.
While the national law allows for Christianity to be taught in schools, public schools are under the authority of municipalities, and as such, have the authority to shape school policy.