Denmark is a Scandinavian country located in northern Europe. With a population of almost six million the Nordic country was ranked number one on the 2016 United Nations World Happiness Report with the majority of citizens enjoying a high standard of living. Although Denmark isn’t known as being a particularly religious country most of the residents who do subscribe to a religious faith belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church of Denmark. The nation’s 1849 constitution guarantees its citizens with freedom of religion and the right to believe (or disbelieve) as they choose. Among the various religions currently practiced in modern Denmark society include Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism.
Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church of Denmark
The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church is a protestant denomination which can trace its origins back to 1536 in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation when Lutheran Christianity became the official state religion. The faith’s doctrine stresses the acceptance of a variety of religious beliefs providing that they agree with the five official books determined in the 1683 Danish Code. These documents include Luther's Small Catechism, as well as The Augsburg Confession, and the Creeds of the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian. Membership in the church is voluntary and a matter of personal choice. The majority of citizens who belong to The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church usually become official members of the faith through the ritual of baptism which typically takes place shortly after they are born.
Due to increased immigration from countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Somalia, the second largest religion in Denmark is Islam. According to recent estimates, some 270,000 Muslims, most identifying as Sunnis, currently reside in the Nordic country. Despite having a secular atmosphere which stresses acceptance and cooperation Denmark hasn’t escaped conflicts involving various religious communities. The most well known example of this cultural clash was the so called Muhammad cartoon controversy which took place in 2005. At that time a Danish newspaper published a number of drawings depicting the central Muslim prophet, something that’s strictly forbidden according to tenets of the Islamic faith. By publishing the cartoons the actions of The Jyllands-Posten newspaper were deemed to be blasphemous by legions of Muslims not only within Denmark but also around the world. This highly publicized incident sparked heated debate, boycotts, and even violence.
Currently, around six thousand Danes identify as members of the Jewish faith. Although the community has always been a minority within Danish society the Jewish population was significantly higher before the ravages of World War II. During the Holocaust members of Denmark’s resistance movement as well as ordinary citizens ensured the safety of large numbers of local Jews by securing them with passage out of the country and north to the safety of neighboring Sweden.
Atheism and Secularism
Just as important as Denmark’s stance on freedom of religion is the right of its citizens to reject any and all faith based churches and institutions. A 2012 article featured in salon.com named Denmark as one of the best countries in the world in which to live if you’re an atheist. Reasons cited for this include the fact that most Danes don’t consider religion as playing an important role in their lives but instead consider it as having a largely ceremonial function.