What is Denmark's religion


Legal situation on religious freedom and its actual application

According to the Danish Constitution, everyone has the right to practice their beliefs freely, provided that this does not violate morality or disturb public order. Furthermore, everyone is free to found a religious association.1 Access to civil and political rights must not be denied to anyone on the basis of their religious views.2 Conscientious objectors do not need to do military service.3

The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the Danish national church and receives government grants. Membership is essential for the ruling monarch.4 176 other religious communities (including 113 Christian, 30 Muslim, 15 Buddhist, eight Hindu and three Jewish) are registered and officially recognized by the Danish Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs. Other communities are entitled to practice their religion, but do not enjoy special privileges reserved for registered communities. These include, for example, the right to marry and baptize, residence permits for foreign clergy and tax exemptions.5

Religious instruction in Evangelical Lutheran theology is a compulsory subject on the timetable, as is an introduction to world religions, philosophy of life and ethics. However, students can be exempted from this with the consent of their parents. All public and private schools, including denominational schools, receive state funding. It is at the discretion of each school to offer devotions; participation is voluntary for students.6

Carrying out ritual slaughtering without prior stunning of the animal (this also includes kosher and halāl slaughter) is prohibited in Denmark, but the importation of kosher and halāl food is permitted. Judges are not allowed to wear any clothing with a religious symbolic character, e.g. headscarves, turbans, large crucifixes or skull caps.7 In addition, a draft law tabled by the Justice Department in early 2018 bans the public wearing of clothing that covers the face, including: the burqa and the niqab.8

Male circumcision is legal in Denmark, provided that the procedure complies with the law and is carried out by a doctor. However, a citizens' petition was submitted to parliament in 2018, the aim of which is to ban this practice. The motion met with criticism from leading representatives of the Muslim and Jewish communities alike.9

The blasphemy clause provided for in the Danish Criminal Code was repealed by Parliament on June 10, 2017. As a result, prosecutors dropped charges against a man charged with burning a Koran.10 Public statements threatening, insulting or degrading people because of their religion or belief are still illegal.11

In December 2016, paragraph 29c was added to the Danish Aliens Act. Since then, the immigration authorities have been allowed to keep a "black list" and prohibit religious preachers from abroad from entering the country if concerns about public order in the country justify this.12 As of December 2017, eleven preachers were on the list - all Muslims, with the exception of an American pastor who burned several copies of the Koran in 2011.13



In the Hate crime- The OSCE's database of hate crime reports lists six unspecified anti-Christian crimes reported by the Danish authorities in 2016.14 No anti-Christian incidents were reported by civil society organizations.15

According to a survey of clergymen living near asylum seekers' homes in July 2016 and a report by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in the same year, asylum seekers who converted from Islam to Christianity were harassed and threatened several times.16

In the Hate crime21 unspecified anti-Semitic crimes were officially recorded in the database.17 Five other incidents (an attack on property and four cases of threat) were reported by civil society organizations.18

In August 2016, the window of a kosher butcher's shop in Copenhagen was smashed with a brick.19 In September 2016, a Jew received threatening messages referring to the Holocaust; Another man of Jewish faith who works for a youth organization was insulted and threatened with anti-Semitic abuse.20

In May 2017, the head of a Jewish community complained about an imam who had called for attacks on Jews during a sermon in the Masjid al-Faruq mosque in Copenhagen.21

Islamophobic crimes were in the period under review Hate crime-Database no official reports; Civil society organizations also reported no incidents.22

In August 2016, the building of a Muslim school was smeared with anti-Islamic slogans; targets were also painted on several window panes. In September 2016, members of an Islamophobic group defaced a grave in a Muslim cemetery with a blood-like substance and a pig's head.23


Perspectives for Religious Freedom

In addition, there were no other significant incidents or negative developments regarding religious freedom in Denmark during the reporting period. However, if the bill is passed making the circumcision of boys a criminal offense, it could affect the religious freedom of Muslims and Jews living in Denmark.

  1. Denmark’s Constitution of 1953, Article 67, constituteproject.org, www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Denmark_1953.pdf, (accessed February 12, 2018).
  2. Ibid, Article 70.
  3. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, ‘Denmark, International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, U.S. State Department, www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm, (accessed February 12, 2018).
  4. Denmark’s Constitution of 1953, Articles 4 and 6.
  5. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, op.cit.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. 'Denmark's burka ban could also forbid masks and fake beards', The Local - Denmark, January 26, 2018, www.thelocal.dk/20180126/denmarks-burka-ban-could-also-forbid-masks-and-fake-beards , (accessed February 26, 2018); J. Blem Larsen and P. Glud, 'Forbud mod burkaer Skal også gælde kunstigt skæg, masker og huer', DR, January 25, 2018, www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/forbud-mod-burkaer-skal-ogsaa -gaelde-kunstigt-skaeg-masker-og-huer, (accessed on February 26, 2018).
  9. S. Gadd, 'Ban circumcision for boys under-18s, says Intact Denmark', The Copenhagen Post, January 30, 2018, cphpost.dk/news/ban-circumcision-for-boys-under-18s-says-intact-denmark .html, (accessed February 20, 2018).
  10. Elin Hofverberg, 'Denmark: Blasphemy Law Repealed', Global Legal Monitor, Library of Congress, July 6, 2017, www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/denmark-blasphemy-law-repealed/, (accessed on February 4, 2018).
  11. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, op.cit.
  12. Forslag til Lov om ændring af udlændingeloven [Draft to amend the Aliens Act], Paragraph 29c, Folketinget (Danish Parliament), www.ft.dk/RIpdf/samling/20161/lovforslag/L48/20161_L48_som_vedtaget.pdf, (accessed on 25 February 2018).
  13. 'Denmark adds Saudi cleric to list of banned “hate preachers”', The Local - Denmark, December 12, 2017, www.thelocal.dk/20171212/denmark-adds-saudi-priest-to-list-of-banned-hate -preachers, (accessed February 25, 2018).
  14. Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, 2016 Hate Crime Reporting - Denmark, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, hatecrime.osce.org/denmark, (accessed February 7, 2018).
  15. Ibid.
  16. Jonas Christoffersen, Louise Holck, Ulla Dyrborg, Emil Kiørboe and Christoffer Badse (eds), Human Rights in Denmark: Status 2016-2017, The Danish Institute for Human Rights, www.humanrights.dk/sites/humanrights.dk/files/media /dokumenter/udgivelser/status/dihr_status_2016-17_uk.pdf, (accessed on February 16, 2018).
  17. 2016 Hate Crime Reporting - Denmark, op.cit.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, op.cit.
  20. 2016 Hate Crime Reporting - Denmark, op.cit.
  21. ‘Copenhagen imam accused of calling for killing of Jews’, BBC, May 11, 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39885745, (accessed February 22, 2018).
  22. Jonas Christoffersen et al., Op. Cit.
  23. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Op. cit.