One in five Icelandic Members of Parliament (MPs) went to a Humanist event to mark the opening of parliament on October 1. The number of MPs choosing to attend the Humanist event instead of the traditional Lutheran Mass in the National Cathedral has been increasing since the first Humanist event four years ago. Hope Knutsson reports:
On the morning of Saturday October 1, 2011 Sidmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association held a secular alternative event for Members of Parliament (MPs) instead of the Lutheran Mass in the National Cathedral which is held traditionally right before the opening session of Parliament every autumn.
This is the fourth time that Sidmennt has offered an inspiring philosophical talk instead of the religious ritual which we consider inappropriate as the opening event for a secular government body in a democratic republic in the 21st century. Three Members of Parliament attended our first event. Today 13 MPs from 4 of the 5 Icelandic political parties showed up.
They had a light breakfast with us in a hotel across the street from Parliament while listening to a political psychologist give a 10 minute talk called “Towards Making Better Decisions” in which she discussed some of the things that affect people’s decision-making process.
There are 63 MPs in Iceland, thus the turnout for our event was 20% of the legislators in the nation!
We are very proud of this progress and continue to urge Parliament to stop opening its new session every year with a religious ceremony. The Icelandic Parliament is supposed to represent ALL Icelanders, not just the 78% who are members of the state church, most of whom are there because they have been registered automatically at birth in the religious organization of the mother.
Sidmennt has been protesting this process as a human rights violation and been working for separation of church and state since our organization was established in 1990.