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Les autres communautés religieuses

As section 66 of the current constitution governs the legal status of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, section 69 governs in a similar phrase the legal status of, literally, ’the from the Evangelical Lutheran Church deviant religious communities’’ that is the other religious communities in Denmark. As freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution, sections 67, 68 and 70, everyone is free to think, believe and worship as they please. There are, however, certain measures regarding religious communities that the constitution delegates to the decisions of parliament. In history, the affairs of other religious communities were decided by the ministry for ecclesiastical affairs who usually consulted the bishop of Copenhagen, but in 1998 this was changed, and now the Advisory Council regarding Religious Communities are consulted. This is an authority that on substantial grounds ’approves’ religious organizations’ and groups’ right to perform marriages, to invite religious professionals, and to have certain tax deductibility. The advisory council is no longer part of the ministry for ecclesiastical affairs, but is part of the Division of Family Affairs at the National Social Appeals Board.

In order to be approved as a religious community, the applicant group or organization needs to be part of a religion in a wide definition of such, there needs to be a substantial amount of members, there must be ministers or religious personnel to guarantee institutional stability, and there needs to be some creed or doctrine, also to make sure that the institution is durable, but also to make sure that it is public. In the past fifteen years, more than 99 religious communities and organizations have been approved.

In order to be approved for performing marriages, the minister or religious professional is to be checked by the police and the group needs to be recognized. That’s because the performance of marriage is a public act delegated by the authorities. Some gain a standing approval, and some an ad hoc approval on a case by case basis.

The marriage itself needs to be consensual, the parties cannot be married to others, there needs to be two witnesses, and they must declare a ’Yes’ when asked by the one performing the marriage. According to international private law some marriages will be recognized from abroad, but when a Danish employed interpreter in Iraq was persecuted for helping the Danish army, he was allowed to bring his two wives to Denmark.

VINDING, N. V., "Religious Communities Deviant from the Established Church" in IVERSEN, et al, The Future Danish Model of Religion. Reitzels Publisher, Forthcoming, 2012.

GEERTZ, A. W. and Mikael ROTHSTEIN, M., "Religious Minorities and New Religious Movements in Denmark", Nova Religio : The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 4, No. 2 (April 2001).

KÜHLE, L., "Recognition of Religious Communities as Symbolic Capital", paper presented to NCSR in Uppsala/Sigtuna, August 22nd to 25th, 2002.

13 septembre 2012