Hjalti Hugason: State Church and Religious Freedom. Interpretation and Revision of the Constitution of Iceland (art. 62–64.)
The Icelandic constiturion contains a special clause stating that he Evangelical Lutheran Church should be a State Church in Iceland, as well as establishing a religious freedom. Here these provisions are interpreted taking similar provisions in the Danish constitution from 1849 into consideration.
It is demonstrated that the church order is only meant to be descriptive, i.e. to stipulate the government's support of the religious tradition (majority chuch) the nation embraces.
In light of this interpretation and the changed social environment, it is suggested that the section about the national church and the religious freedom be joined in a single clause which will be placed with the human rights clauses. The claus might be phrased thus:
All persons have the right to practice their religion or life stance in conformity with their individual convictions and to form associations based on those convictions. Everyone shall be free to remain outside such associations. No one may on account of his religion or life stance refuse to perform any generally religious or life stance association of which he is not a member.
The state shall support and protect all registered religious or life stance associations.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in Iceland. This may be amended by law. That law shall be submitted to a vote for approval or rejection by secret ballot of all those eligible to vote.
Transl. by Arndís Þórarinsdóttir
Keywords: Constitution, law and religion, religious freedom, national church, pluralism.