Gay marriages costing state church members
The new law allowing gays to marry in state churches has sparked an exodus away from the Chruch of Denmark.
After being debated for years, the law change was passed in June and came into effect two weeks ago. No less than nine independent evangelical Lutheran congregations have started up in the last six months in protest and more are on the way.
Lasse Holmgaard Iversen, national secretary of the Lutheran group Evangelisk Luthersk Netværk, said the state church has moved too far away from the teachings of the Bible.
“For many, allowing homosexuals to be married in the church was the last straw,” said Iversen, who supervises six of the newly-formed congregations.
Henning Andersen, a member of new congregation that started in the Jutland town of Herning just two weeks ago agreed that the Church of Denmark no longer reflects his faith.
“The Bible says clearly that one must not marry homosexuals, I cannot be part of any church that does,” said Andersen.
Ettrup Kurt Larsen, a lecturer at Menighedsfakultetet, a Lutheran theology school in Aarhus, said the state church can look forward to losing more members to independent congregations.
“People are being motivated by the changes taking place to start new congregations,” Larsen said.
The church minister, Manu Sareen (Radikale), said he encouraged those dissatisfied with the change to establish their own congregations.
“If you don't want to be part of an all-inclusive church, then it is a good solution to start a new one.”