Press Release No: 02/21
26 January 2021
In a letter to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Minister for Church Affairs Joy Mogensen, issued on 26 January 2021, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) has expressed deep concern regarding the new suggested initiative on compulsory translation of sermons from other languages into Danish.
In the letter, CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger and CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen have highlighted, how historically, CEC Member Churches have been creating positive impact by encouraging the use of mother tongue in religious contexts, assisting migrants to join and form communities that support and help them navigate societal contexts of which they are now part.
“Politically, CEC sees such legislation as an unreasonably negative signal in relation to religion and the role of religious communities in society. Furthermore, it would be an indicator to non-Danish, European nations and Christian communities that their religious practise and presence in Denmark is questioned and deemed unequivocally problematic,” reads the letter.
“Why should German, Romanian, or English congregations with a long history in Denmark suddenly have to translate their sermons into Danish? This would taint the image of Denmark as an open, liberal and free nation built on a Christian heritage of individual rights and duties. In this regard we emphasise that Article.18 of the Lisbon Treaty, which grants the right to every European citizen ‘to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.’ The right to use foreign languages is fundamental for this right to be fully exercised.”
The letter elucidates concerns on the issue from CEC Member Churches, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) and the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) that holds several German speaking congregations in Denmark.
While recognising the challenges adhering to integration in Denmark and throughout European societies, CEC in the letter emphasises extensive experience of its Member Churches and the positive role religious communities play encountering such challenges successfully.
CEC has encouraged Danish officials to engage further on this issue with church representatives from Denmark and CEC.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 486 75 82 36