Civil Confirmations On The Rise - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Civil Confirmations On The Rise

Published April 16, 2014

Photos by
Ragnheiður Pálsdóttir

The Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association (Siðmennt) reports a 45% increase in the number of Icelandic youngsters who chose a civil confirmation rather than a religious one.

Vísir reports that Siðmennt’s managing director Hope Knútsson reported that 304 Icelandic kids had their civil confirmation this year, up from 209 the year previous. These kids also comprise 7.3% of all children who went through confirmation this year.

The first civil confirmation in Iceland was held in 1989, at which time only 16 children took part. Hope attributes the rise in part due to “more and more people know[ing] someone who had this kind of confirmation.”

A civil confirmation, as Siðmennt’s site explains, is a non-religious rite of passage:

Our preparation course for civil confirmation is about: ethics, critical thinking, human relations, human rights, equal rights, relations between the sexes, prevention of substance abuse, skepticism, protecting the environment, getting along with parents, being a teenager in a consumer society, and what it means to be an adult and take responsibility for your views and behavior. Our main teachers are philosophers. There are 2 main rules in our course: 1) It is all right to be different, dress differently, look different, and hold different views from the majority. 2) One should always strive to be honest.

Confirmation in the Lutheran church is very popular for young people in Iceland, usually undergoing the ceremony at the age of 13. Their motivations for seeking confirmation, however, are not always entirely spiritual.


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