Who is … Thorkild Grosbøll

Melting sea ice is creating challenges and opportunities in Greenland (Photo: John Lumen)
January 26th, 2013 7:10 am| by admin
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He is a former Church of Denmark vicar popularly known as the priest who didn’t believe in God.

Bad career choice, huh?
Well, saying he didn’t believe in God is something of an oversimplification. In his 2003 book ‘En sten i skoen’ (‘A stone in the shoe’), he wrote that he didn’t believe God created or played an active role in the world.

Doesn’t that still go against some kind of church teaching?
It does, but it wasn’t enough to get him kicked out of the church – at least not right away. He was given the chance to explain himself to his bishop, who then made sure his sermons stuck to church dogma.

Did they?
Not really. He wound up being suspended in 2004 and relieved entirely of his priesthood the next year, despite having the full support of his parish. He really didn’t do much to help his own case though – especially not when he repeatedly fed the press with quotes like: “God belongs in the past. In fact, he’s so old-fashioned that it astounds me that modern people can even believe in his existence.” At the same time, he blamed the press and his superiors for taking his quotes out of context. He was eventually allowed back, but only after he reaffirmed his faith, including the parts about God being the “all-powerful creator of Heaven and Earth”. He retired for good in 2008.

Is he trying to make a comeback?
No, but his moment of public doubt has apparently made such an impact that a church in Viborg, Jutland recently advertised an opening for a vicar, including as one of the requirements was that the successful candidate needed to be ‘a believer’.

Are there more like the Rev Grosbøll?
According to the church looking to hire, yes. Given the stink put up by the vicars’ union and the church minister over the requirement, they would appear to be right. Tolerance is apparently divine.

 

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