February 27, 2021

The government wants to tell them what language to preach in. Ministers are objecting.

Vershal Hogan

Christian ministers in Denmark as pushing back against a law that would require them to send translations of sermons delivered in languages other than Danish to the government.

UG Christian News explains the draft law:

Country officials argue that the “Law on Sermons in Languages Other Than Danish,” seeks “to create greater openness about the preaching of religious preachers in Denmark when they preach in languages other than Danish.”

 

According to The Guardian the draft law also seeks to “enlarge the transparency” of religious events and sermons and for the most part “prevent radicalization and counter incitement to hatred and terrorism” by radical Muslim groups in the country.

The Folkekirken — Denmark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, which represents approximately 75 percent of the country’s religious identification — has objected to the proposal. The Conference of European Churches likewise responded with a letter to the Danish Prime Minister criticizing the as-yet unimplemented measure.

Church Times explains:



The open letter, co-signed by the Danish general secretary of the CEC, Dr Jørgen Skov Sorensen, said that churches speaking minority languages had helped migrants to form communities and integrate with society. The draft law risked tainting Denmark’s image “as an open, liberal, and free nation built on a Christian heritage of individual rights and duties”.

In addition to a number of immigrant groups that have made their home in the country in recent years, Denmark is also home to two non-Danish native language minorities in its territories, Greenlandic and Faeroese. Some have said that even if the law is enacted, those two languages should be exempted.

The law could also have an impact on the national churches of other countries. The Church of England has several hundred members attached to St. Alban’s Church in Copenhagen. Bishop Robert Innes, who oversees Anglican churches in mainland Europe, also contacted Frederiksen, calling the measure “overly restrictive.” The Guardian shared his letter in part:



The bishop said it was unclear whether the law would require translations to be sent to the government before or after being given, but that in either case it was an impractical and illegitimate constraint.

 

He said: “Preachers don’t always write full text of their sermons, they might write notes. They might preach extempore as the archbishop of Canterbury sometimes does and there are questions of idiom and nuance which requires a high level of skill in translation of course. It is a high bar. It is a skilled art and it is an expensive skill as well.”

 

[…]

 

“This is not an isolated incident. I do think that we need to be alert to the encroachment on our freedom to practice our religions. Little by little, minority groups are being treated with increasing suspicion.

 

“For example, in Switzerland our clergy have been informed that they can’t work part time, they can only work full time, because there is a suspicion at what they might be doing in the other half of their time. In France, minority religious groups are required to have their accounts subject to a particularly invasive investigation and to re-register as religious associations every five years.

 

“I think overall there is a suspicion of people using languages that are not the native languages of the country concerned and that is in contravention of the article 9 of the convention of freedom of thought, comment and religion, which does guarantee for people to manifest their own religion and belief in worship teaching practice and observance, which must include the freedom to worship in your maternal tongue.”

Read the entire Guardian story here.

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