Denmark Team: Media survey – religious diversity:
As the society develops, our sight at religion changes. Nowadays many people do not take the time to go to church or pray. Many people find it old school and boring, they want changes and they want the churches to follow the development of society.
Another way that religion changes because of the society development is that the number of religions in Denmark grows. Since year 2000 the number of religious communities has risen from 90 to 160. The religious landscape has become more multitudinously, says experts.
All over the world societies becomes more multicultural. Religions meets other religions, which is called culture clash, religions also meet new countries, people and prejudices that needs to be disproved.
A reasonable cause of the rising number of religions is because of the rising number of immigrants. As a nation we have to be more open for new religions.
In an article we read about Christians, who light candles, to show respect for a man that has died. But the Muslims didn’t see it as a thing to show respect, they see it as a symbol only used by Christians. For the man in the article this is an example of him living with an illusion, because what he thought was normal, and a symbol of respect, actually turned out to be something special.
All of this is compared to formerly were people were more religious, they went to church every Sunday and for holidays. If we look at our grandparents, which is no more than three generations back, we can see that they added more importance to religious values than we do today. And if we go to church on Sundays, we see that the typical church attendance, is the older generation.
In Denmark the Christianity has had a way bigger influence at legislation, language and culture than we will admit. Maybe we won’t admit it, because we, here in Denmark, are not very believing. We want to believe that the laws are made from common sense and to have good impact on the new and modernised world.
Here in Denmark most of us don’t think much about our religiousness. But our religion actually fills a lot in our mentality and our society institutions.
We live in a globalized world. Events in distant parts will be present, and boundaries between nations and people pulled down. That’s why we need to be more open to new religions, cultures and in general new things.
Lithuanian Team media survey:
Religious diversity in Lithuania
General facts about the country in the context of religious diversity
Today most (some 85,9%) Lithuanians are Roman Catholic and the interwar Lithuania was a very religious society. However the long Soviet occupation (1940-1941 and 1944-1990) with its anti-religious policy brought in a flavor of sometimes radical atheism (6,8% irreligious). It also triggered a decline in religious services attendances and a more clandestine role of religion, which is still largely invisible in public places.
Second largest faith is the Russian Orthodoxy, followed by 4,6%, mostly ethnic Russians. 0,9% of the population are Old Believers, whose Russian ancestors received refuge in Lithuania when they were persecuted in Russia for refusing to adhere to the Nikon’s religious reform. Lutherans, 4th largest religion (0,7%), enjoy a centuries-old stronghold in Klaipėda Region, while the Lithuanian center of the Reformed Christianity (0,2%) is the Biržai district in the northeast.
Since 2005 the Law on Equal Opportunities forbids any direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs and other grounds. Administrative sanctions for production, distribution or demonstration of any articles that stimulate national, racial or religious discord are embodied in the Lithuanian Code of Administrative Law Violations.Although human rights are protected by the Constitution, national laws and international legal instruments, it is more important that the practical realization and protection of the rights is ensured. Because in the context of mass media (television, radio, press) there is almost none information about other religions and believes than Roman Catholic. In addition, some articles in major newspapers such as „Lietuvos Rytas“ puts Christianity above other religions and tries to persude people to look at other religions negatively*. And thus we have miscommunication.
In these circumstances, lacking proper knowledge, society is not always capable of dealing with religion discrimination.
- „Lietuvos rytas“, article „Sektos plauna smegenis ir pinigines“, subheadline „Naujieji religiniai judėjimai suvilioja nelaimingus ir smalsius žmones“ (1999 09 22)
- In your opinion, what makes religion “religion”?
- In your opinion, why there are so many religions in our world and one “God”?
- In your opinion, what is the purpose of the religions?
- In your opinion, do different religions have something in common? If yes, what?
- I believe in cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. Look at the Sun, if there is no Sun, then we cannot exist. Nature is my God. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. – Mikhail Gorbachev
- Everything comes from everything, and everything is made out of everything, and everything returns into everything. – Leonardo da Vinci
- Religions are different roads converging on the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads as long as we reach the same goal? In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals. – Mahatma Ghandi
- The purpose of the religion is to control yourself, not to criticise others – Dalai Lama
- When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” Abraham Lincoln
- “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama XIV
Estonian team’s media survey:
Religion, according to oxforddictionaries.com is “ The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” In the current day and age beliefs are often related to the heritage of the country. For Estonians Christianity came during the 13th century, by the merciless hand of the Teutonic Order. In more recent times Christianity was brought in by the Germans and Danes during the invasions. Because of that, it became associated with the faith of invaders and thus seen in a bad light. Under the soviet occupation public worship was not encouraged, distancing Estonia from religion even further. “I think one of the main reasons why we can today speak about Estonia as a secular society is that the national and religious identity do not overlap,” says Ringo Ringvee, an adviser at Estonia’s department of religious affairs in the following post http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-14635021.
According to a survey done in 2011 (http://www.stat.ee/pressiteade-2013-050) out of people over the age of 15 only 29% admit to following a certain religion. This number goes down even more when taking into account that out of native Estonians only 19% believe. The remaining 10% comes from non-Estonians and the biggest number of representatives comes from Russia. Out the few that believe the dominating religion is not surprising to anyone, that being the Orthodoxy and Lutheranism. On the other hand, paganism is quite widely spread. When asked about believing in some kind of spiritual force, 50% of the people answered positively.
Even with religion being scarce there are a lot of smaller communities dedicated to worshipping other religions. The bigger ones are the major branches of Protestantism like Adventism, Baptist churches, Methodism and Jehovist. The other noticeable groups are in Islam, Buddhism and pagan religions. What remains are a lot of different small religions having about hundred or fewer followers; examples of those would be Shamanists, Wiccans, Hindus, Satanists etc.
All of this leads religion to be barely represented in the media. The most common topic brought up in the news are the surveys done nationwide. They mainly cover the statistics about the current percentage of people believers in any given religion.
A more recent example would be an article in Estonian main daily newspaper the “Postimees” – http://arvamus.postimees.ee/3894865/mida-eestlased-usuvad.
This article writes about the survey done by Estonian Council of Churches. The questions looked at in the article include: should European culture be religious, will Christianity die out and do families talk about religion among themselves.
Questions of Estonia:
- How is religion viewed in today’s society?
- Why do people start believing in a religion?
- What are the benefits and the disadvantages of religion?
- Is it okay to make fun of religious people?
- What religion is the most common in your country?
- How to identify a real religion?
Finland Team media survey:
Religious diversity in Finland
Finnish paganism was once the primary religion in Finland, worshipping several different deities. The most important god of them all was the god of thunder and sky, Ukko. Finland has developed a lot since then, both in regards to religion, as well as everything else.
Ever since 1923, Finland has ensured religious freedom under the national constitution. Residents have the right to be a part of any religion they choose, or to not be a part of any of them. Ever since then Finland has been separating religion and state from each other. Despite this, public education still requires children to study at least one religious class in school. They are however free to choose that personal religious ideology of theirs.
The majority of individuals in Finland identify as members of a Christian church; the vast majority of these Christians are attendants of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Its followers make up 70% of the population. Although Finnish regulation allows for religious freedom, this church is considered one of two national churches in the country. Despite all this, religion isn’t necessarily a big part of people’s identities and daily lives. Most Finns become a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church when they are born, which explains the large percentage of Finns being a part of a religion. A survey was done, and out of the Finns that answered, only 8% considered themselves “very religious”.
The number of people in Finland with no religious affiliation is approximately 22% of the population. This number has increased by 100% over the last 20 years. Increases in people identifying as non-religious are linked to increases in urban living, higher educational levels, and younger generations.
Other religions practiced in Finland (each by less than 1% of the population) include for example Roman Catholicism, Judaism and Hinduism. They have all seen an increase in their numbers due to an increase in international immigration.
Finns are mostly accepting towards representatives of other religions. A survey shows that 69% of the Finns that answered believed in “respecting all religions”, but the increased immigration and the various issues that came with it may have had a negative impact on that.
- Is religion and morality the same thing?
- Why do you think people convert to religion?
- Is having more than one religion good or bad thing?
- Is atheism a religion?
- What would the world be like without religion?
- How do you think religion will evolve/change in the next 50 years?
- True religion is giving and finding one’s happiness by bringing happiness into the lives of others. ”William J.H. Boetvker”
- Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that region, are all seeking something better in life. “Dalai Lama”
- God has no religion. “Mohandas Gandhi”
- The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. “Thomas Paine”
- The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves. “Swami Vivekananda”
- Goodwill toward all beings is the true religion; cherish in your hearts boundless goodwill to all that lives. ”Gautama Buddha”
The Swedish Team
Religious diversity in Sweden
Until year 2000, Sweden has been a Christian country. Since then, our religious influence has reduced and now we are one of the least religious countries in the world. According to World Value Survey, Sweden is the least traditional country in the world and the country who believes the most in self expression values. Today Sweden is a multicultural country because of the immigration, that brings more religions to Sweden.
Many swedish people think that religious diversity is something negative, that it causes violence and conflicts. This is actually not true, there is only prejudice. We think that these prejudice is coming from the way that media writes about the things that happens in the world. According to the article Religious diversity – good for peace, many religions in one country is having a calming affect on the society since it reduces the violence and the conflicts.
In Sweden we have an organisation that is called “Open Skåne”. Their mission is to create a community between the different religions. They discuss important questions about anti semitism, islamophobia and radicalization for example.
In the swedish media we read that we need to open our community and minds more for religions. By doing this we get more knowledge about them and learn to not having as much prejudice as we have. We also found an article Many ways can lead to religious radicalization where they discuss and speak about jihadism and an organisation to counteract the children to become a jihadist in an early age.
The percentage of religious members of the swedish church has shrunk with 30 percent over the last 25 years. This means that the number of atheists has increased. The majority of religious people in Sweden are immigrants. Without the immigrants, Sweden would be far away from as religious as it is today. There are living people from every religion in Sweden. The biggest religions in Sweden are Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Even though we have big religions in Sweden the biggest part of the population are atheists, agnostics and non-believers.
As a short summery of this, the swedes need to have less prejudice against religions. We got to have a more open community and open minds so we get knowledge about the religions. By discussing important questions about religions we learn more about them and by that we can show each other more respect since we then can understand why different people act in a different way. Religious diversity is not a bad thing as many people may think, it is a positive thing!
- Is it common to question your own religion? If yes, how usual and why?
- Is every religion equally accepted? If no, which is more accepted?
- How does the future look like for the different religions?
- Will it be more or less multi cultured in the future? Why?
- Do you learn about every religion in school? Is there more focus about a specific one?
- Can you believe in more than one religion? Why?
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela
“All my studies in science have confirmed my faith.” ~ Ghillean Prance
“To believe in something, and not to live it is dishonest.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
“I seek refuge in Allah from being among the ignorant” ~ Quran
“The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticise others” ~ Dalai Lama
“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
The Icelandic team
Er þörf á trú í núverandi samfélagi?
Er réttlátt að þjóðir hafi eina sértrú?
Er réttlátt að banna trúarkenslu í skólum?
Verður friði frekar náð án trúar?
Hvernig er fjölbreytileiki trúa í landinu ykkar?
Væri auðveldara að hafa eina trú?
I don’t know how it is in other countries but in Iceland we have a national church, Lutheranism. About 89% of icelanders are registered in the national church and pay a portion of their taxes to the church. I personally think this is idiotic that a nation has a religion and that everyone is a part of it except if they sign themself out of the national ledger and not many people even know about this. Most of all just having one religion when there are many religions being practiced in the country is like having many children but giving only one all the food and the rest has to take care of themself. We took a few examples of how the media writes about
different religions, some were about christianity, lutheranism, and the rest about jehovah’s witnesses. The articles about christianity were always or most of the time praising the religion one article we found was about a old man who was giving out the new testament to kids in Akranes who were playing on the school premises. If some other religion for example Jehovah’s witnesses were forcing books about their religion upon kids the vice principal would not only want to talk to them, they would most likely want to call the cops and try to arrest him.
From the time when people were slaughtered in medieval times to the invention of the computer blasphemy has been forbidden by law and anyone who commits such a crime has suffered horrific consequences. A famous icelandic television program, called ‘’Spaugstofan”’, was accused of blasphemy in 1997. In the end the state’s prosecution decided to not carry on with this accuse and nothing happened. 18 years later a leader of a political party stated that this law that forbid blasphemy should have been abolished many years ago. The same year this man spoke of this outdated law the law was abolished and is not active anymore.