During a Christian conference in Iceland this weekend, attendees prayed for a change in the nation’s attitude to abortion, reports RÚV.
The conference, called Kristsdagur (Christian Day) invited attendees to Harpa Concert Hall to “pray for unborn children and the coming generations,” as well as a “renewed sense of responsibility.”
“Really this says that they’re praying for a change in perspective. We can’t be certain precisely what they mean,” said political scientist, Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, in an interview with DV. “If by a change in perspective they mean – to look more positively on the fact that people have the right to make decisions about their own body, then fine. But when you look at Christian movements worldwide, generally when they talk about abortion they are trying to increase feelings of shame. They are trying to instil guilt in people’s minds and limit reproductive health rights.”
Silja Bára, who is co-writing a book on abortions in Iceland, then referred to her friend (and Grapevine’s very own) Paul Fontaine who argued: “In Iceland, abortions are safe and legal. Hospitals and clinics that provide them are not picketed or bombed. Women who seek them are not harassed by organised campaigns. Doctors who provide them are not threatened, assaulted or shot at. So what, exactly, do these people hope to change about Iceland’s outlook on abortion? What do they want to change it into?”
“The comparison [Paul draws] is brutal,” said Silja Bára. “But this is what people fear when this kind of discussion arises.”
Iceland’s President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and the Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, were among those in attendance at Christian Day.
“Certain laws on abortion are applicable in Iceland but of course the church puts emphasis on the preservation of life,” said Bishop Agnes in RÚV‘s evening news. “But that is not to say that abortions aren’t appropriate in certain circumstances.”
Bishop Agnes, a key note speaker at Christian Day, also said that she was not aware of the fact that there were plans to meditate on abortion before attending the conference.
In addition to prayers for unborn children, attendees of Christian Day also prayed that Iceland’s teachers would “realise the truth” and allow the distribution of the New Testament in the nation’s elementary schools.
Additionally, they prayed for politicians, who are forced to face the media each day and asked God to stop negative press about them.
Last year, the organisers behind Christian Day arranged the Festival of Hope, which triggered great controversy in Iceland after they announced homophobic preacher, Franklin Graham, as the main speaker.