From Iceland — New (Old) Religion Promises Parish Fee Refund

New (Old) Religion Promises Parish Fee Refund

Published November 25, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Georgelazenby/Wikimedia Commons

A new religion formed in Iceland has one primary objective: “that the government repeal any law that grants religious organizations privilege”, which includes refunding Icelanders’ “parish fees”.

The faith in question, the Zuists, ostensibly worship the ancient Sumerian gods. However, their stated mission has less to do with creating religion than it does to do with separating the state from it:

The organization’s primary objective is that the government repeal any law that grants religious organizations privilege, financial or otherwise, above other organizations. Furthermore Zuists demand that the government’s registry of its citizens’ religion will be abolished.
The organization redistributes the government’s annual financial support equally to all members of the congregation. The organization’s financial matters are handled by an accountant firm, and general administrative matters are handled by a lawyer. Neither the administrative board nor other members will have access to the organizations financial matters.
The religious organization of Zuism will cease to exist when its objectives have been met.

The aforementioned “annual financial support” is derived from parish fees (sóknargjöld), a portion of income tax revenue.

Normally, legally registered religious organisations in Iceland receive an annual payout from parish fees derived from their registered members. As the Zuists have promised to distribute their payout amongst all registered members, they provide detailed instructions on how to register as a Zuist in Iceland. In addition, the Zuists also show how to make your own legally-recognised religion in Iceland.

Separation of religion and the state has been a contentious issue in Iceland in recent years, especially as the country has a national church. A recent Gallup poll on the subject showed that 55% of Icelanders support separation of church and state, with only just under 24% opposed to it.

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