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Denmark plans to abolish prayer public holiday

A draft law aims to cancel the Prayer Day as a public holiday to increase the defence budget. “There is more at stake than a public holiday”, say religious leaders.

FUENTES, Kristeligt Dagblad AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus COPENHAGEN 17 DE ENERO DE 2023 16:58 h
A church in Copenhagen, Denmark. / Photo: [link]Kristijan Arsov[/link], Unsplash CC0.

The daft law for the abolition of the Christian Great Prayer Day as a public holiday in Denmark was recently sent to the parliament for consultation.

Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen defended the abolition of the holiday last December, saying it would help provide extra money for the defence budget. The parties only have until January 19th to table ammendments.

The Danish Ministry of Finance said that by eliminating the holiday, the gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by €1.3 billion. In turn, the government would be able to increase the defence expenditure to 2% of the GDP, reaching NATO standards.

According to the Minister of Labour, Halsboe-Jørgensen, “great days of prayer have no basis in Christian faith. It is a day without major Christian traditions attached to it. So if you have to choose between public holidays, I think this is the best choice”.

After the consultation, it is expected that the draft law will be approved and in place within just over a month, CNE News reported.


Political and trade union criticism

The daft law received much criticism from different society sectors, which define it as “sad”, “unhistorical” and “an interference in the internal affairs of the Church”, among other things.

“The government has come as a thief in the night”, pointed out Victoria Velásquez, Danish MP for the eco-socialist Red-Green Alliance in the Christian Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad.

The Bill was announced right before the collective agreement negotiations began, but in an interview with Danish newspaper Børsen, Mona Striib, chairman of FOA, a trade union for the public sector, asked the government “to take this proposal off the table as soon as possible”.

She warned that otherwise, one of the consequences could be that part of the trade union movement would vote no to the collective agreement.


Birthe Rønn Hornbech resignation

Birthe Rønn Hornbech recently left the liberal Venstre party due to its support to the abolition of the Prayer Day. She represented it for 28 years in parliament and was Minister for Refugees, Immigrants and Integration and for Ecclesiastical Affairs.

For Hornbech, the government “has shown an abysmal ignorance” with the draft law, which is an “expression that Denmark’s liberal party has passed away”.

“Politicians are theologically and Christian illiterate and completely unaware of the scale of this disaster”, she added in her interview with Jyllands-Posten.


“Government breaks contract with Church”

Religious leaders have also criticise the daft law, stressing that “there is more at stake than a public holiday. Government breaks contract with Church”, reported Kristeligt Dagblad.

“We have a special Danish model, where the state at the political level respects that you legislate for the external affairs of the national church, but stays away from what are the internal affairs of the church, including liturgy, hymns and theological questions. That balance is being broken”, said Marianne Christiansen, a bishop in Haderslev.



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