The Danish government has rejected a controversial draft law that had been under discussion for the past three years and would have required all religious sermons in Denmark to be translated into Danish. The law aimed to prevent the spread of sermons that contained calls for hatred, intolerance and violence, especially in Muslim communities.
Over the past fifteen years, the Danish authorities have made efforts through changes in immigration legislation, especially for clerics, to limit the access of radical imams to the country. Although the laws were provoked by the actions of radical Islamists, they extend to clerics of all religions, including Christianity, providing proof of an educational qualification from a legitimate public university, financial independence, etc.
This was also the case with the bill that required all denominations to translate their sermons into Danish. This week it was finally rejected by the Minister for Church Affairs Louise Schack.
In March this year, the chairman of the Danish People’s Party asked the minister for church affairs to investigate whether the law could be drafted so that it did not affect all religious communities that preach in a language other than Danish, but only those mosques where “speaks only in Arabic, loudly preaches against women, democracy, Jews and other minority groups, or where violence and terror are spread.” The government did not find such an option for the operation of the law and it was finally rejected.
In January 2021, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) expressed deep concern in a letter to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Minister for Church Affairs Joy Mogensen about a proposed new initiative to make it mandatory to translate sermons from other languages into Danish.
The KEC reminded that as an international European church organization they have always encouraged the use of the mother tongue in a religious context, helping migrants to integrate and form communities that support them and help them navigate the new social environment of which they are now a part .
“From a political point of view, we see such legislation as an unjustified negative signal regarding religion and the role of religious communities in society. Moreover, it would be an indication to non-Danish European peoples and Christian communities that their religious practice and presence in Denmark is being questioned and considered unequivocally problematic,” the address said. “Why should German, Romanian or English communities with a long history in Denmark suddenly translate their sermons into Danish? This would damage Denmark’s image as an open, liberal and free nation built on the Christian heritage of individual rights and responsibilities.”
Photo by Chris Black: