Members of the constitutional committee have proposed that the question of whether the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland remains a government institution or not be put up for public referendum.
Committee member Illugi Jökulsson, speaking to Vísir, said, “It was our conclusion to head in that direction right away.” He added that while the committee discussed the pros and cons of separation of church and state, the one conclusion they came to was that in the end, the question would have to be answered in a referendum.
Members of the committee seem to be almost evenly divided on the question, as the Grapevine reported. Icelanders themselves are more decisive on the matter: the last opinion poll on the subject shows 73% of the public in favour of separation of church and state. The job approval rating of Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson was at 24% at the time the poll was taken, and only four in ten respondents said they trusted the church a great deal.
“It’s a matter that means a great deal to people,” Illugi said. “Whether people have strong opinions of faith or strong opinions of atheism, people are dead serious that we must respect both sides, and we intend to try as best we can to resolve the matter with as much satisfaction to all involved as possible.”