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덴마크 루터교, 종교의 자유 지지와 함께 이슬람교 배척

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2000-04-04 00:24
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Danish Lutherans support religious freedom, but not Muslim call
to prayer
ENI-00-0126

By Bjarke Larsen
Copenhagen, 31 March (ENI)--Denmark's Lutherans are not in
favour of the Muslim call to prayer being heard in their cities,
according to research among church members about attitudes to
other faiths.

But they strongly support maintaining freedom of religion for
all of Denmark's inhabitants. However, in an effort to promote
the low-key integration of the country's growing Muslim
community, many Lutheran parishes have non-religious programmes
which include participation by local Muslims

These preliminary findings come from the first major study of
the Lutheran Church's views to the swift evolution of Denmark's
multi-ethnic society. There are about 100 000 Muslims in Denmark,
making the Muslim community bigger than both the Catholic Church,
which has about 28 000 members here, and the Jewish community,
which is about 3000 strong.

About 86 per cent of Denmark's population of 5 million belong to
the Evangelical-Lutheran church, officially recognised in the
Danish constitution as "the people's church of Denmark" and
supported by the state. But the constitution also states that
every citizen has the right to religious freedom. This has
traditionally been interpreted to mean that in Denmark there is
freedom - but not equality -of religion.

The study suggests that Danish churchgoers want to maintain this
status for the church - church bells can be rung on Sundays, but
they would prefer not to hear the Muslim call to prayer.

Kristine Kaaber Pors, an ethnographer who carried out the study,
sent questionnaires to all Lutheran parish councils and undertook
in-depth interviews with leaders of some of the councils.

She found that the Danish church had few programmes or
activities directed specifically at new Muslim residents. Most
activities were aimed at refugees from the Balkan countries,
while a big group of Muslim immigrant workers, mainly from Turkey
and Pakistan, were left to their own resources.

Most activities for migrants take place in the central and
suburban parishes of Copenhagen, the capital, and in other major
towns with a strong Islamic presence. Most programmes are
non-religious, such as day-care for children, and second-hand
clothing shops. Parish council members are careful not to impose
their religion on their Muslim neighbours.

"We should not wear a cross for everyone to see, but rather
build an open community spirit and create a feeling of everybody
belonging together," one church member told Kristine Kaaber Pors,
in a statement typical of local attitudes. "That is modern
missionary work in our context."

Despite the importance of the church, Denmark is a largely
secular country, and Danes generally consider religion a private
matter. Even active church members are reluctant to talk publicly
about their beliefs. This attitude partly explains the negative
reaction in some sectors of Danish society to the growing influx
of Muslims, many of whom are more open about their faith.

The growth of ethnic communities here is changing the balance of
Danish society, and also prompting reactions unwelcome to many
mainstream Christians.

The Danish People's Party, a right-wing, populist party which
some have compared to the Freedom Party in Austria, now draws
support from 15 per cent of the voters, according to recent
polls. It opposes Denmark's immigration policies.

The party's success has prompted many people to call for a
stronger church voice in public debate on migration and Islam.
Many Christians want the church to hold a more direct dialogue
with the Muslim community.

"We are not afraid of competition from the Muslims, because we
feel strong enough for dialogue in the years to come - and if we
are not prepared, we will have to grow stronger," one parish
council leader told Kristine Kaaber Pors.

Another said: "If you are afraid of Muslims, you are too weak
yourself in your religious belief."

The study was commissioned by Denmark's Lutheran bishops who
have set up a task group to examine their church's relationship
with the Islamic community.