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And while we’re on the subject of the church

EPI passed on this video to me, where the amazing Stephen Fry holds forth about the Catholic church and just nails it. And while his talk is specific to that church, there are so many things that also apply to the Icelandic national church at the present time — and probably many others, as well.

Meanwhile, according to Fréttablaðið this morning, six out of 12 cabinet ministers want a separation of church and state in Iceland, and two of them have already withdrawn from the church. Our Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir says she has considered withdrawing from the church on several occasions — although she has not done so thus far.

Methinks it won’t be long before church and state are separate here in the Land of the Nice.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tom Harper August 25, 2010, 11:59 am

    Would certainly be a money saver if the state no longer funded them. Maybe then they wouldn’t have to cut university budgets so much.

  • Rik Hardy August 25, 2010, 12:49 pm

    Yup, he nails it.
    I found myself practically open-mouthed the other day as I listened to Sr. Waage practically making a case for a Catholic national church in Iceland, with a special emphasis on confession.
    I suppose Luther isn’t frilly enough for him, although I have to admit I’ve always found him otherwise to be a very knowledgeable and entertaining personality.
    For example, I’ll bet he knows exactly how many priests and bishops have had their heads chopped off for less than what he’s doing now…

  • George August 25, 2010, 1:39 pm

    Although Fry’s snotty, upper crust accent annoys the shit out of me, there’s no denying he’s a clever bugger 🙂

    Back in 1990, a few months after moving to Iceland, I asked my Icelandic ex why flags were flying at half staff. It was Easter. “Jesus’ death”, she replied. I was flabbergasted (Fry would probably say “gobsmacked”). The NATIONAL flag flying at half staff to commemorate the death of a religious figure in a country where almost no one attends the church erected in the name of that figure. It was the weirdest thing I’d ever heard.


  • Kris August 25, 2010, 2:56 pm

    The Catholics will rape your kids, the Protestants will seduce your wives ( and drink all your booze) and the Rabis will chop you up and sell you on the black market (but only the good parts). I’m glad I was never indoctrinated into any religion.

  • JB in San Diego August 25, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Be careful what you wish for. We (allegedly) have had separation of church and state in the USA for 200 years, and yet half the people here still believe we are a Christian nation to the exclusion of all other religions. This religious zeal is widespread enough that people on the right “disparage” Obama by claiming that he is a Muslim (and what if he is….?) and use the separation clause of the Constitution to try to prevent a Muslim prayer center near the site of the 9/11 attacks in NY (because wouldn’t that be like the government promoting Islam?). On second thought, go for the separation of church and state thing, just write the new law in a lot more detail than our own first amendment.

  • Rik Hardy August 25, 2010, 5:08 pm

    I hope Kris will remember that one isn’t a carbon copy of one’s parents, and that it is possible to choose religion without being “indoctrinated” into it.
    Just a small door which I think one ought to leave open.
    I’m talking about a personal faith which is quite independent of the dogmas of any particular denomination or of their attendance/non-attendance at any kind of church.
    Some people have an instinctive feeling for this; others not.
    Make your choice and be happy.

  • sylvia hikins August 25, 2010, 5:37 pm

    I am sitting in front of my computer wearing a bracelet made from cutting up a plastic pipe and scratching out a design on the surface. An African design. I bought it earlier this year in Namibia in a village that was inhabited only by young girls who were the surrogate mothers of AIDs orphans.They made little bits of ‘jewellery’ to sell to tourists. In Namibia, 21% of the population have full blown AIDs and it is estimated that in 10 years time, one third of children under the age of 18 will be orphans. In a country where most people have little or no healthcare, anti-virals are too expensive to even contemplate. So Stephen Fry’s comments about condoms vs religious dogma struck a chord with me. With one or two notable exceptions like Quakers, I believe religion is a method of social control imposed upon others by powerful elites. I might change my mind the day that Stephen Fry becomes Pope!!!
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • George August 25, 2010, 6:57 pm

    What’s this “viking wirral” thing? Is that a suburb of Liverpool? 🙂 Wasn’t Ringo born in “the Wirral”?

    I probably shouldn’t taste from the can of worms that JB from San Diego opened but what does a mosque at Ground Zero have to do with the separation of C + S?

    @ Kris: my grandfather was a Rabbi and I don’t think any black market trade in human organs was going on. He only traded in cash and being A JOO, he was real good at it. Please, let’s hold back the smears, ok? One can object to organized religion without tainting all its ministers or practitioners.

  • Paul Hunnisett August 25, 2010, 7:11 pm

    Does anyone know exactly what motion they are debating?

  • Easy August 25, 2010, 10:20 pm

    I’m pretty sure there are perverts and dishonest people wether they are religious or not, christians, muslims, jews, atheist, rich, poor, short, tall, european, asian, with or without university degrees; and there are also very honest and loving people that belong to the “state church” so beeing part of the Lutheran church or not, won’t make anybody better or worse, people can be in or out of any church or religion and still a perverted dishonest person.

  • Kris August 25, 2010, 11:05 pm

    I’ll try again with a little less flame. Organized religion is more or less hypocrisy. In that regard, they are all the same. Most people I know have left churches in various stages of bitterness and disappointment.
    Why should people pay for that? throw in the injustice of having their kids molested… No thanks.
    Leo Tolstoy wrote The Kingdom of Heaven Lies Within. Oddly, the book is about the spiritual fraud committed by the church in exchange for money/power. He was in particular talking about the support for war and the vast amount of money made by a few. Sound familiar? It should.
    Luckily Iceland is too small to support an army. Maybe it will doubly fortunate not to be able to afford a church.

  • sylvia hikins August 25, 2010, 11:46 pm

    George. Wirral- the penisular on the other side of the Mersey where I moved to after living for 20 years in Liverpool’s inner city. The Vikings came and settled on the then empty Wirral (with the permission of the Anglo-Saxon Queen of Chester) around 930 AD -it is thought they were kicked out of Ireland because of their paganism!! So there are lot of Viking places local to me like Thingwall where the Parliament was, Thor’s Stone, etc. DNA testing done on the Wirral in 2000 showed that nearly 70% of the population had viking DNA. Some of them still dress up as vikings on occasion and re-enact battles! All of the Fab Four were born in the Pool. My kids went to the same school as John Lennon- hence the famous Quarry Men because the school was then called Quarry Bank. Yoko Ono still keeps strong links with John’s old schools. I’ve rambled on enough. Ta-ra mate.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • George August 26, 2010, 1:25 am

    Sylvia, thanks so much! I DID know it had something to do with Liverpool, having read the two books Cynthia wrote about John and just generally recalling early Beatlemania history. Had no idea of the Viking connection, though! You make it sound so cool…especially when speaking of “The Pool” 🙂

  • idunn August 26, 2010, 6:47 am

    Pure eloquence. Thank you for the video.

  • Joerg August 26, 2010, 12:04 pm

    “…I’m glad I was never indoctrinated into any religion.”

    If everything is supposed to be considered as inherited, than I would interpret this statement as a proof that at least the indoctrination into cliché and prejudice has worked well.

    Stephen Fry makes a distinction between religion in the sense of a personal set of beliefs and the institution church, which is exploiting religion for their own gain in power. I couldn’t agree more with him – in both points he addressed in his speech. Tolerance is a valuable good.

  • joeinvegas August 26, 2010, 11:17 pm

    Thank you for posting that. Mr. Fry does speak eloquently, a lot different than the comedy positions I usually see im portrayed in.

  • Grif September 1, 2010, 11:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing.
    It still strikes me that Iceland didn’t separate state and church. I find it highly worrying that this is allowed by the European union within the European union.
    Several years ago I had a few interesting discussions with a beginning (Catholic) priest and a (Catholic) youth priest. Both having their own views that deviate from the official ones. It was sad to hear what kind of struggles they have to ‘fit in’ and be accepted and to perform their vision.