A proposal put forward at the national convention of the Independence Party opens the way for the separation of church and state.
The draft of the national convention proposal – which outlines the party platform for the coming year – begins with a chapter headed “Human Rights”. This chapter includes the following:
“The effect of the national church on Icelandic society is both cultural and ethical. The current organisation of the church and the separation of church and state needs to be examined, with the prosperity of the national church and the people leading the way.”
This chapter also emphasises that “religious beliefs do not trump the law”.
As Kjarninn points out, the current platform of the Independence Party makes no mention of even considering separation of church and state. In fact, they emphasise that the party “will defend the natural church”.
Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal, who has the ultimate governmental authority over the church, recently attending an open meeting in Eskifjörður where she was asked about the possibility of separation of church and state. She responded that she felt the discussion “has reached the point where we should talk about how this relationship [between church and state] should be.”
The possibility of the separation of church and state has come up several times in recent years. In particular, the issue of same-sex marriage – which the church opposed – contributed to the fact that the majority of Icelanders (65% by 2010 figures) support separation of church and state. The issue has come up again as the “freedom of conscience” exemption for ministers who oppose same-sex marriage has come under criticism.