Do you believe or not believe – that is the question. At least for the state-run Lutheran Parish Council of Mejdal in the diocese of Viborg in Jutland.
As the first parish ever in the country, Mejdal is advertising for a new vicar to take care of the religious welfare of its congregation – but the job advertisement makes it clear, the congregation wants someone who actually believes in God, according to Kristeligt Dagblad.
The Parish Council is apparently worried that it may run into the same problems caused by Vicar Thorkild Grosbøll in the Copenhagen suburb of Taarbæk who caused a flurry of controversy in 2003 after stating stated that he did not believe in a creator and interventionist God.
“We have written (Ed: that we want a believer) to underscore that we want a priest who is a believer,” Mejdal Parish Council Chairman Karl Georg Pedersen tells Kristeligt Dagblad.
“It should be obvious, but we’re not at all that sure that it is. The Grosbøll case still haunts us and there are different attitudes among priests to Christianity and the gospels,” he adds.
The council’s prerequisite was included following a questionnaire distributed to the local congregation asking them what they wanted in a new priest.
Denmark’s National Vicars’ Union, however, isn’t too pleased with the idea.
“There is a major problem in measuring people’s beliefs and excluding them. This could easily turn into a form of control. Who is to decide whether a priest has the right belief?” asks union Chairman Per Bucholdt Andreasen.
“A priest should of course keep within the church’s creed, but it’s a question of theological attitudes. I can imagine there are priests who would not apply because it transcends their understanding of how people talk about things,” Bucholdt Andreasen says.
Social Liberal Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs Manu Sareen says he also finds the Parish Council’s actions strange, saying he hopes that ‘the wording (of the ad) is something that the Parish Council hasn’t thought through properly’.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood